Peter Jerkewitz is the CEO of NovusWorks, a consulting company that is focused on creating sticky lasting changes that bring improvements in overall business operations. They take a partnership-oriented, hands-on approach to help you achieve your complex business goals, based on strong empathy and a passion for team inclusion and development. The team draws upon decades of experience in project management and business delivery, leadership, team building, creative thinking and strategic insight to help you reach your goals.
Peter brings over 20 years of diverse experience into every conversation and situation. After a nearly 19 year successful career at Microsoft and Amazon.com, Peter began efforts to form NovusWorks in the fall of 2010. He is proud to have worked in a variety of roles, ranging from the individual contributor roles of technical customer support, core developer, test developer and release manager, to the leadership roles of Director of Release Management, Group Program Manager, and Product Unit Manager, responsible for entire product areas. In each of these roles, he learned how businesses and teams work, great leadership skills, and how to respect and leverage each role for what it contributes to ensure success.
MO: What inspired you to start NovusWorks?
Peter: NovusWorks was inspired by a deep passion for making improvements in how organizations run. NovusWorks is deeply committed to creating sticky change. We consciously don’t “do the work” for our clients – rather we participate to help them grow and deliver with their own teams. We don’t identify the problem and leave it to clients to solve. Neither approach – doing the project, or giving detailed lists of problem areas – creates sticky change. Often, quite honestly, they just make things worse for the team over the long term while costing clients wasted money.
A key to success is our focus on people. Knowledge worker organizations are our domain, and we focus on helping organizations grow and leverage the potential in their people. We achieve results in a large part through people-oriented project management. And I don’t mean the mechanical/tracking/timesheet kind. Rather, we favor project management focused on helping a team realize its deliverables by realistically doing risk management and helping people resolve issues – always through and for the people on the team.
MO: You and many of your teammates worked for Microsoft prior. How did your time at Microsoft prepare you for what you do today?
Peter: All the people who are working as part of the NovusWorks family (and not all are former Microsoft, but most are!) have benefited greatly in growing their technical, business, and people skills by working on some of the largest and most complex software products ever released. We’ve contributed in a variety of ways, each of us starting as individual contributors and winding up in key leadership roles. This has given us perspective on different levels, technology, people, and approaches that can prove very valuable in helping clients. We can help them see what’s really going on so we can develop and implement solutions to some of their more compelling issues.
MO: How would readers know whether they might need to call a business operations consulting company?
Peter: There are several reasons organizations need to focus on business operations performance. Typically, it’s through knowing they need to make a big change to enable or continue growth. A re-organization is starting, for example, or they find themselves in the largest and most complex project they’ve ever built, or they’re having challenges really improving team impact and morale, while also hitting key business goals. Organizations that are trying to solve issues that span many groups or functions often leverage NovusWorks for our experience. We focus on simplifying situations and making changes actionable.
MO: So many large corporations hire consultants, with the rest of the company never seeing anything implemented after that investment. How do you recommend our readers make the most of a consultant?
Peter: At NovusWorks, our feedback and recommendations are always in the form of realistic actions. We don’t provide an overwhelming comprehensive list, but rather, a focused list of the changes we’d suggest right now, inclusive of the “how.” Delivering the big list of what to fix, with no insight on how to fix it, or as to why this will be a challenge, isn’t really helping the customer solve. We’re signed up to partner in helping their team make the changes – so they learn and own the results, but have our experience passion and insight along the way as the solution is implemented. We’re there to help adapt the solution as new discoveries are made, ensuring it really works in the end.
One key value NovusWorks brings to our clients is that we’ve done it. We’re experienced technicians and senior managers more than consultants. We draw pride from leadership and really helping teams grow – that’s a lot more than being “a consultant.” I coach my clients with the same passion and dedication that I brought to my direct teams in the past. We feel ownership for the final product and success. We’re not on the sidelines.
Another challenge companies have with the typical consultant is that the consultants are really selling solutions they’ve built over the years. This works well when the clients challenge really matches the ‘solution’ the consultant is selling. With NovusWorks, we do this differently. We want to be leveraged for our experience and passion or skills at helping solve problems, regardless of tool or approach. Because of this difference, we solve problems, really solve. Not just use our ‘tools’ again and again. We evolve and adapt as required to really meet our clients’ business needs.
The best compliment I’ve gotten from a client is that he forgot I was a consultant. He said I embodied more of what they wanted from their team than some on their team did – I was an active role model, not just a coach pointing out flaws. This is who NovusWorks IS.
MO: What is your favorite part about your job?
Peter: I love the diversity of people and challenges. It’s about really understanding the characters and what unique values, perspectives, and challenges they bring – while also understanding the business and product challenges. Our job is to help solve the question of how to bring them together. Clients bring in outside experienced eyes to help them see what is there so they can take action.
MO: You speak about how important teams are to anyone’s business. What is your advice for putting together the best team and making sure it works well together?
Peter: First and foremost, leaders must decide to really connect with, and engage, people on their teams for who they are and what they bring. Assigning people roles and expecting everyone to do it the same way is pure nonsense. The art is in learning to coordinate differences with a common goal. Sometimes, that means people need to change roles, but really leveraging knowledge workers means letting them – and their creativity – have voice and impact. The best teams we’ve been on had this occurring; as a leader, you have to decide to make this environment. It rarely happens by accident.
MO: What is on the horizon for NovusWorks in the next six months?
Peter: As with all companies, growth. We’re continuing to slowly grow in customers, project diversity, and team size. As a modestly larger organization, we’ll be able to cross-leverage experience to better serve clients. We’ll also be formulating a few standard offers that we believe will broad applicability as a starting point with many clients. Initially, for example, will be products on “Managing Initiatives for Business Leaders” and “How to Avoid Automation Fever” for teams.