Cloud-based enterprise management software Cascade wants to set itself apart by creating happier and more motivated companies. Its two founders, a former banker and a photographer who once served as a creative consultant to Samsung, say that their platform not only helps drive results, but also increases workplace morale by helping each staffer feel a personal connection to their organization’s goals.
Responsis, the Sydney-based startup behind Cascade, began marketing the platform at the beginning of this year and have signed up 10 clients so far, including UNICEF Australia. Founders Tom Wright and Eric Perriard, who bootstrapped Cascade’s development, first met when they were university students. After graduation, Wright started his banking career and Perriard took a position at manufacturer PPG Industries, which he eventually left to become a photographer and Creativity Trainer at Samsung in Seoul. The two reconnected when Perriard moved to Sydney and took a new corporate position.
Both were frustrated that the workplace problems they encountered at the beginning of their careers still existed.
“The main thing is that people feel disconnected from their organizational strategy. When the CEO stands up at the end of the year and says we hit results, they’re looking for a reaction from people who don’t understand how they were a part of that,” says Wright.
“I was living it every day myself,” he adds. “I had a good-sized team working for me and whether I had a good idea or not, it was dispiriting to see people who work for you disconnected from what you are doing, even things you are proud of.”
Cascade wants to solve that problem by taking real-time metrics about the strategic alignment of an organization, visualizing it and making the information available to everyone in a company. The platform is designed so that it only takes one minute a day for employees to enter data, which Cascade analyzes to help companies predict if and when they will reach performance targets on time.
Wright and Perriard say Cascade sets itself apart from its competitors by focusing on showing individual employees exactly how their tasks contribute to a workplace’s strategy instead of (for example) managing customer relationships, accelerating workflows or scoring performance.
Cascade’s use cases include companies undergoing a major transition such as a merger. One of the platform’s clients had to combine three companies with locations scattered across the Asia-Pacific region and used Cascade’s multilingual software to see real-time feedback about its strategy from different teams and their London headquarters.
Its founders say non-profit organizations like UNICEF can use Cascade to ensure transparency in how they use donated funds.
“Non-profits can assess if they are aligned with public promises and prove it in a very metric way,” says Wright.
Cascade takes an upbeat approach. For example, employees can see how they are contributing to their workplace’s target, but the data visualization doesn’t explicitly tell them if they are falling short of their target (though they can make the inference). The platform also emphasizes transparency by allowing users to see everyone else’s data. That means workers can track their manager’s progress in addition to their own.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. If you are a receptionist answering the phone, you have to be able to understand why you have been told to answer it in 30 seconds or less, otherwise you are just doing what you have been told,” says Wright. “The engagement piece is really the main thing and we do that by trying to challenge the culture a little bit at companies.”