The Hummingbird effect: Making sense of the chaos to make a real difference

As founders of Hummingbird, the complementary skills and experiences we bring to our business are definitely a core strength. But it takes a high degree of flexibility and curiosity across our whole team and operation for us to deliver on our mission – to get the world humming, one client at a time.

Todd Whaley – CEO

Venesa and I met at Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) in late 2017 when I took up a new role as Services Director for Australia and New Zealand. With Venesa running the Project Management Office (PMO), we both came up against the frustrations inherent in the manual systems used at that time. I had also experienced different PMO services from my time in the UK so when Venesa was investigating Portfolio Project Management (PPM) solutions, it wasn’t long before we had that shared lightbulb moment as we realised the huge opportunity PPM and PMO represented and the problems it would solve for enterprises in Australia.

We also saw that delivering a really effective solution would go far beyond procurement and installation of a PPM system. Simply onboarding technology wouldn’t be enough to deliver the full benefits of automation and access to data. What the Australian market needed was a mature enterprise-level PMO function – one that could effectively unite executives, teams, key decision-makers and other resources to provide enterprise-wide support for all project activities, bridge the gap between strategy and implementation. More than templates, processes and checkboxes, real-time data is collected to make informed decisions.

Fast forward a year or so, and Hummingbird was born. It’s since evolved into a full service offering to Australian enterprise organisations, delivering managed services, specialised consulting, solution design and engagement support. We’re constantly learning, refining and strengthening our approach as the operating environment continues to be disrupted by COVID, technology, supply constraints, labour shortages and more.

Playing to our strengths

It’s been a rewarding undertaking to develop the team and service offerings Hummingbird clients need. If it weren’t for the passion Venesa and I have for our shared vision, and our complementary strengths and knowledge, we couldn’t have pulled it off. My experience in building start-ups, including a ‘PMO-as-a-service initiative’ in Europe, has brought us much of the knowledge and ideas we’ve needed to bring Hummingbird to life. Complementing this, Venesa’s exceptional track record in portfolio, programme and project management delivery and her understanding of the nuances and challenges of the Australian context, has ensured we have built a solid business with a strong organisational culture.

The strength in our partnership starts with being a good fit professionally and strategically. Our commitment to ‘our Hedgehog’ we have developed and defined for our business – the singular vision of what drives us and what we strive to do better than anyone else – is the foundation for how we operate and our continued success. But a rock-solid and productive partnership also comes from a deep understanding of how we best interact and work together and our common shared values and principals

Value-driven at all times

This holistic, balanced approach to our business venture is what we’re working to make possible for every organisation we serve at Hummingbird. While PPM and ePMO services might be the building blocks we offer, we see these as the foundation for transforming the way people work. We’re on a mission to get the world humming, one client at a time by empowering workplaces and teams to be successful and have fun at the same time, to continue growing, learning and getting more from every working day. This is our Hedgehog, our reason to keep questioning the status quo. It’s the purpose we have that ensures each step we take moves Hummingbird and our clients closer to that ideal future state for every employee, stakeholder and client.

Delivering value at all times is the other overarching ‘rule’ by which we operate. Client success is our north star and we’re determined to put all our knowledge, experience and initiative to work in support of their goals. There’s a saying Venesa often brings us back to and it’s fundamental to how we operate at Hummingbird – ‘speak with honesty, think with sincerity, act with integrity’. Our clients have quickly learnt that they can take us at our word because we never promise something we can’t deliver and use our positive can-do attitude and energy to overcome obstacles.

This value-driven approach has seen us develop client relationships based on a high degree of trust. Our clients and their teams know we’re committed to their success. When our efforts start to deliver data that’s accurate and useful, stakeholders become more confident in the way they’re making decisions. In turn, this builds an empowered, supportive culture, where work can be done in a more cohesive and streamlined way.

Flexible and inclusive

Another characteristic of our engagement approach, that enhances our client’s experience and outcomes is our flexibility and agility. Because we’re smaller and don’t work to a pre-defined theoretical process, we can gain a better understanding of what each client really needs. When you’re not railroaded by a process, it’s easier to grasp the outcome that’s needed and use the right mechanisms to get that outcome. And because we’re not wedded to a process, we can flex to the methodology that’s already in place (aligned with best practice), helping clients make the most of the resources and knowledge they’ve already developed in-house.

There is an iconic scene in “Jurassic Park” where Jeff Goldblum explains chaos theory. “It simply deals with unpredictability in complex systems,” he says. “The shorthand is ‘the butterfly effect’ Whilst there is an element of chaos in our everyday life, through the data collated and presented in dashboards and reports, we enable leaders to help explain the effect of seemingly insignificant factors, draw analogies and seek to refine and improve processes, practices one piece at a time.. aka the Hummingbird effect – making sense of the chaos.

Getting everyone paddling in the same direction was behind Microsoft’s transformation when their business was operating in siloes and a reactive business mindset. At Hummingbird we want our whole business community to enjoy a more successful and sustainable future. Getting them humming in the same direction, means we’re looking to maximise the ripple effect by making positive change happen through our own business activities. We take pride in being transparent, positive and doing all we can to empower our clients and their stakeholders, so they can aim for better and better ways of working with us and one other.