Interplay’s 5th Anniversary

Every year that goes by at Interplay feels like a decade. Typically that feeling is a sign that things are moving slowly. In this case it’s quite the opposite; everything is moving super fast. When so many exciting things are happening simultaneously the rearview mirror is littered with (good and bad) milestones. My instincts can’t process that everything was packed into a single year.

It’s always seemed to me that American society was constructed with four-year building blocks. High school and college are both four years. And most folks stay in their jobs for less than that time. It’s arbitrary but four seems to be the magical number that constitutes a complete chapter in this American life. Turning five, as a result, feels like an important achievement. We’re now in the second chapter. We’re now plural.

Accordingly, I believe that our second chapter equates to our second inning. We’ve accomplished so much, but to me were still at the beginning of this game. There is a lot more to do.

A quick recap.

Interplay has evolved from a vision to a reality. We’re involved with roughly forty companies that employ hundreds of folks and operate out of three countries. It’s real.

But it feels like we’ve taken the next step — we’re becoming an institution. Systems and policies guide us and the whole is greater than any single part. It’s a going-concern. We’re going to be around. That’s exciting to me because I believe that we’re just getting started. For me, the opportunity to build the broader vision is a dream.

Another exciting part about maturing is that we’ve got a seat at increasingly higher-stakes tables. Bigger games, bigger outcomes, more impact. But we’ve got a lot ahead of us — there are even bigger tables that we’re not sitting at yet.

To accommodate this growth, we’re specializing. To me this is one of the coolest elements of the evolution of Interplay. Developing teams of increasingly sophisticated individuals who know a particular subject matter very well fills the soul. It’s a sign that we’re constantly getting better at what we do; our game is improving.

While all of this is fun for me, it does give me pause. I spend a lot of timing thinking about 1) how to scale process without creating bureaucracy and 2) how to increase our headcount without losing touch with our culture.

To achieve the former, we’re focusing on ripping out old processes quickly. When old systems break we remove and replace them. While adding a new process is often intuitive, removing an old process is the part that requires focus and attention.

As for our culture, my strategy to date has been to delegate ownership. If Interplay’s culture “belongs” to me or any other individual, then the broader team isn’t going to care. They’re not going to defend it. If the culture is OUR culture, I think we have a good shot at keeping our soul as we grow. We have something beautiful here — a place where people can do well, be who they are and have fun. My hope is that everyone here will fight to defend that dynamic so we can all remain happy at “work.”

Onward.

The path forward is the same but different. More strategies, more growth, more impact. But it’s different in that our moves are larger now. A single operational shift can send ripples of improvement across numerous operations. And with a larger network new business moves can yield results faster than in the past. For me it’s like having a chessboard stacked with a few queens — very exciting. Game on.

Thank you.

I love my peeps. Even the folks that have moved on to other pastures. I’m grateful to the contributions so many of you have made. From the team at Interplay, my partners in each venture and the folks that have joined up with us, all of you have played an important role in making all of this happen. WE have built something cool, something inspiring, something that gives me meaning. For that I’m grateful.