It’s easy to tell where we’re going if you understand how we got here.
I’ve always been proud of Ambit, but I am particularly proud of how we got where we are today. The diversity of talent, background, and experience of our teams and the importance of the projects we manage are staggering. Most impressive to me is that we’ve assembled a group of dedicated Ambiteers who are so smart and talented that when we’re presented with a new project, we can pull teams together that generate breakthrough ideas and discover new ways to thrill our federal clients.
I am most proud of the culture – the Ambit Way – we’ve built. When we started Ambit, I discovered that I hadn’t just launched a company… I’d launched a cause. I spent years working in federal agencies and seen firsthand where their processes were broken and how we could run their programs smarter, faster, and cheaper. I’d met dozens of bright and talented people who shared our values and were committed to improving government. We knew that together we could help government deliver better services to the citizen, so we decided we would show them how.
Although we were technically a woman owned Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, we never relied on federal set-asides to build our business. We competed on our talents and our merits. And we won.
If you browse through our website you can gain a sense of the impact we’ve had in the federal space. We’ve run mission critical programs during periods of national emergency, we’ve run the single largest revenue producing program in the entire government, we’ve streamlined dozens of programs and recovered more than $112 million in operating costs. We’ve won individual awards, company awards, and industry awards. And we’ve gotten smarter, stronger, and more capable every single year.
My dream for the future of Ambit is still the same as it was back in 2004: that every Ambiteer finds their calling; that they feel like they work as part of an extended family that supports and nurtures their efforts, that they’re engaged in essential and important work, and that they’re making a difference in the lives of millions of citizens through the work we all perform.
In Ambit’s early days, we were sustained by an entrepreneurial fervor that fueled our 70 hour weeks, assuaged the fatigue of proposal overnighters, and focused our attention on fulfilling mission for our federal clients. While we were small (and could fit everyone in the company around a single conference table) we didn’t need much more than our youthful energy and passion to keep us all headed in the same direction.
As we expanded, we gained in knowledge and broadened the scope of our competencies but found it harder to maintain the intimacies and shared experiences that articulated who we were and defined our differences in a sea of beltway sameness. A lot of companies start out being exceptional, but as they grow, there’s a dark, powerful force that claws them back towards the average.
We refused to become comfortable or complacent. Having become fluent/expert in the business of government, understanding the distinctive nuances of federal delivery, process, and procurement, we directed our passion towards our clients, not our programs. We determined to become indispensable.
We brought a new, Human Centered Design approach to our planning and management that had a dramatic effect on the work we performed for our clients. We tackled complex sets of challenges across agencies, forming multidisciplinary teams capable of seeing and solving problems throughout the agency’s ambit. Our team leaders combined regimented, repeatable and proven processes with insight, innovation, and experimentation to transform federal organizations into agile, high-performing models.
Our repeated success validated our purpose and inspired us to work harder on our federal relationships so that more of our ideas became accepted and adopted. It gives us permission to have tough conversations with our clients, and ourselves, about whether we’re asking the right questions, involving the right people, and designing the right solutions. And it encourages us to continually embrace new methods and approaches that connect all levels of the organization and equip everyone, no matter their background, to create impact.
We can’t predict where our focus on Human Centered Design will take us, but we’re certain that we’ll continue to experiment and seek to reinvent ourselves; that our best ideas will likely emerge from unexpected places and that we will have to be ready to constantly adapt and redesign ourselves to meet the emerging challenges facing us and our federal partners.