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  • Writer's pictureRoger Grant

My Story: Death by a Thousand Cuts

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

In 2014 I could see a cliff coming. We were doubling our business year on year, but we realised that we were no longer fighting traditional competitors. We were going head-to-head with mighty tech titans dressed up as grandma.

Will our growth be disrupted? And if we needed to change, then what do we change to? 

Every man and their dog had THE solution for us. And every one was different. The consultants with their cookie-cutter answers were especially convincing. When faced with uncertainty, their cocky confidence was the ultimate comfort food: instant noodles. Just add hot water and you’ll have success served on a silver platter.

We paid heavy tuition fees to learn that cookie-cutter answers don’t work.

So what worked?

Small high-impact prototyping with real customers. We built, tested and refined through 12 prototypes over 3 years.

I invited people to co-create a service. It was on a voluntary basis, this was additional work on top of our regular day jobs. No running away from the day-to-day targets.

We designed new services. Our initial services were half-baked: free workshops that led nowhere, personality assessments that left customers with that “So what?” feeling. 

The failures were crushing. It was like putting a rookie in a ring with Mike Tyson in his prime. We refused to give up. Conflicts happened regularly, swear words flying around, but we knew we had each other’s backs. 

In the midst of the failures, we found bright spots. Building upon the bright spots, we started gaining traction and the rookie started winning. Through the prototyping, we found a much deeper problem our customers wanted to solve. 

Today we are a leadership development company supporting organisations like Adidas, HP and L’Oreal who are creating fast business impact in highly competitive environments. 

The cold hard truth is no one knows the right answer for your organisation. When I stopped listening to the consultants, I started listening to our people and customers. We sparked off our own ideas and nurtured them to reality. We created fast business impact by changing from the inside out.

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PERSONNA is a leadership development company focused on the people side of transformation. We hold a simple belief that everyone is an extraordinary and powerful force for positive change. When you make work personal, naturally you become a better leader.

We’re here to help people become better leaders, build highly-effective teams, and create a culture of trust & collaboration in their organisations. We provide leadership branding, leadership coaching and group experiences. If you are curious to learn more drop us an email to

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