What does #Protegra do?

I work for Protegra. I’ve worked here since July 23rd, 2001. I’ve performed in a variety of roles and worked on many projects for a wide variety of clients.

But many times we continue to get the question; “What do you guys do?” Some people limit us to a Software Development Consulting company. We often hear “I didn’t know you did that?” Other times people remember we like to do projects rather than resource augmentation.

So what does Protegra do?

We are a consulting company with people who endlessly care to find the ideal solution for the true business problem. Protegra endlessly strives to ask whether the proposed the solution is the best one. Is the suggested problem the actual problem or just a symptom? Can the solution be made better? Is this solution an ideal solution? Our focus is always on solution consulting before solution building. In our opinion, many people jump to solution building before solution consulting.

Have you confirmed you have identified the real problem and have identified the ideal solution?

Protegra solves a client’s business problems through the use of Software Enabled Solutions. Sometimes this is greenfield development, sometimes this is package integration, sometimes this may be mobile development.

The difference is in how Protegra does this. And there are three steps or methods:

1) Protegra uses Innovation Games and other methods to gather Customer Insight as to what the current pains and gains are for the client.

2) Protegra creates Empathy Maps to confirm the true problems and jobs to be done and create and propose ideal solutions to address those business problems.

3) Protegra then uses Agile methods to iteratively deliver solutions to remove the business problems as soon as possible in an iterative way.

When have we done it?

  • We have worked with inventors to realize their visions in a software solution
  • We have worked with government to create and propose a job matching solution in joint ownership with First Nations
  • We have worked with government to determine how we could deliver a Campground Reservation solution in 92 days – Parks Reservation Service
  • We have created a state of the art Payroll and Scheduling system with industry partners – Blue Canvas Group
  • We have worked with clients to find funding for ideal solutions though government grants

We’d love to help your company define an ideal solution to your perplexing problems.

 

A new Taxi Cab company in #Madison #unioncab.coop @protegra

With all the recent discussion of the new business model that Uber has introduced, I was surprised to find another company that kinda did Uber before Uber was Uber in my recent trip to Madison, Wisconsin. 🙂 (Only Better than Uber!!!)

The Discussion

I was taking a cab from the Madison Concourse Hotel to the Pyle Center at the University of Wisconsin campus. (Go Badgers!!!) The first cab driver was very pleasant and dropped me off very promptly and quickly. I asked him if I could arrange a follow-up cab. He mentioned he couldn’t arrange for himself to be there, but handed me a card that I could call when I needed a pick up. (more on this later)

So I examined the card – Union Cab co-op. Interesting….

The drive back

On my drive back, I asked the second cab driver about the Union Cab Co-op company.

He described the history of how the Union Cab Co-op of Madison was formed. You can find all the details here:

Union Cab Co-op

There is a lot of detail in the article but it is summarized very well in the final two paragraphs:

Today Union Cab has gross annual revenues in excess of $7 million with approximately 230 active or probationary members and 65 cabs. We continue to operate under the principles of the Cooperative movement and maintain a “one-member, one-vote” worker democracy.

We intend to continue to grow, serving the transportation needs of Greater Madison, and providing good jobs at a living wage in a safe, democratic and humane environment. But Union Cab is more than just a business; it is an idea and an ideal. It is one of a very small number of worker owned and operated businesses in America. Some consider us the wave of the future, others think we will be relegated to the scrap heap of utopian idealism. Our Membership will determine which it will be.

My Thoughts

The discussion with my second cab driver/owner was the most pleasant and insightful ride I have ever had. We discussed the history of the company and how he has a voice at the table of how the company is operated. He also mentioned how he has a role to mentor new cap drivers and introduce them to the company. 🙂 Then I thought back to Uber. I don’t know for sure, but Uber seemed to be less of a co-operative and more of a private company structure. They may be structured as a co-op, but their website doesn’t give that impression. It seems to be a model where you are more of an independent contractor and are afforded freedom, but don’t share in the control of the company or the profits. They certainly don’t talk about helping and mentoring each other.

I thought back to how co-operatives can be the solution to finding a compromise between private companies that maximize stakeholder profits sometimes at the expense of employees and unions that sometimes maximize union member salaries at the expense of private companies and taxpayers.

Protegra

We at Protegra are also a Co-operative. Everyone Protegran can be a shareholder if they want and can share in the profits. All Protegrans help to decide company direction and strategy. We are 100% employee owned.

I think this co-op model could have promise for many areas in the future. I do agree with Union Cab co-op, I think it is the wave of the future. The control of the company and the profits are shared by the people and not the company or union hierarchy.

Back to the Start

Knowing what I know now, I am even more impressed with the Cab driver who didn’t set up a follow up cab ride on the side. I know I have done this with other private cab companies and their bosses may not have ever seen that fare. I even know situations in Unions where members take extra shifts at the expense of other members.

But somehow this little co-op has build a team where companies and unions have failed. Interesting.

 

#Home

Once people find out I work at Protegra, there are usually two questions that get asked. For those people who have not heard of Protegra, they ask “What does Protegra do?”. I will be writing multiple Blogs over the next few weeks on what Protegra does and how we visually and intuitively work with clients by using Innovation Games, Empathy Maps, Business Model Canvases and Value Proposition Canvases. Cool Stuff. Stay Tuned.

For those people who have heard of Protegra, they ask “What is it like to work at Protegra?”

I’ll try to address that question in this blog post.

Coming Home

I was away from Protegra over the last three years on a client project. Typically at Protegra we like all of our Protegrans (Yes, we call ourselves that) to work at our building. This is because of the sense of community and affinity that can be built and the collaboration and information sharing that is maximized when people can discuss ideas face to face. In addition, providing the opportunity for “Water Cooler” discussions can lead to the generation of the best ideas.

I should state that the client site I was at was as good as it could be. The clients were awesome and the project was a great learning experience. The client treated us like employees and the amenities were top-notch.

So I really wasn’t sure to expect coming back to Protegra after such a long time away. What would it be like? Would it be any different from the last few months? What it is like to work at Protegra?

I have now been back for 3 days and it is like being home. The amount of free-flowing ideas has made me smile and made my head spin at the same time. The meetings where everyone has an equal voice to propose ideas and discuss opinions is really quite unique. When everyone feels comfortable enough that they can propose anything and discuss anything, you have created an atmosphere like a home.

Protegra is also one of the few places I have been at where people seek out collaboration when they don’t need to. A decision could be totally within control of one person, but they will still seek out 3-4 other Protegrans and ask them what they think. And that to me is the indication that you have a special place. The focus is not on individual authority and advancement, it is about making the best decision for the client and Protegra as a whole. Why wouldn’t I seek out other opinions to make the decision the best it could possibly be?

Summary

So what is it like to work at Protegra? It is like being at home where you understand that even if you disagree, you can talk about it and your opinions will be respected and everyone is there to build something larger than just themselves.

To me, that is pretty special.

In my upcoming blogs we will talk about what how we work collaboratively at Protegra.