All of us lived through chaos and change wrought by COVID. Every person, every family and every business has been faced with these changes and IRIO is no different. In the midst of this chapter, John Bower makes his return to IRIO after 10 years leading a non-profit organization. To lead the company not through change, but rather transition.
As CEO, Bower is charged with leading the culture, managing customer and investor relationships, driving revenue and leading the upcoming brand transition.
This summer I found myself having second and a third conversation with Russell about working with IRIO again. Together with Russell and John Hinckley, I helped get IRIO off the ground some 15 years ago. I left in 2012 to pioneer my own vision, and after the whirlwind we all lived through (COVID, politics, etc. etc.), I ended up shutting down what I built in February of 2022 and could not envision myself becoming the CEO of IRIO some 7 months later.
While I was flattered at Russell’s consideration, I did not jump at the opportunity. For one, I was in a fog of having run after a dream, seeing it succeed and eventually having to put a dream in the ground. The other reason was simply I was not that enthused about working at a “texting company” (more on that later) or working in the Multifamily industry.
Multifamily, like all industries, has strengths and weaknesses, with unique quirks that are both endearing and annoying. It was not until I spoke to his young son, Taylor Davis that I began to be intrigued.
Here was a young man, a thinker and he could see the need for transition. COVID has fundamentally changed the world in which we live. We’ve all been impacted and been forced to think differently about just about everything in our lives, including how we do business. And so their story is what captured my attention. Once upon a time, there was a father and son… (I think lots of good stories start like that) and they were struggling to figure out how to live in this brave new world…
And so I began to work with them. We dove into personal vision, CliftonStrengths, clarifying the vision of IRIO, their hopes and dreams, and faced the fears and problems that inevitably come from life and leading a (family) business.
And through that process, Taylor and Russell began to discover a renewed vision both personally and professionally. Using Patrick Lencioni’s Rally Cry, internally we began to say, “Transition is not possible… it is necessary.”
IRIO as a company, in this post-covid world, needed to transition from top to bottom.
A Word on Transition
It is well documented that the last few years in America have been difficult. COVID, remote work, political divide, racial tension, inflation and “quiet quitting” have impacted us all. I went through a transition and well, IRIO is a company in transition. In my own process, I came across William Bridges’ book, The Way of Transition. In it, Bridges states:
“Change is easy, transition is hard. Change is when an external event happens – either caused by actions or decisions, both planned and unplanned that impacts organizations. Transitions on the other hand, are the psychological reorientation undergone in order to come to terms with that change.”
And that is precisely what all of us have experienced – – – a massive change. The old way of living, of doing business has ended. And it is my experience that those faced with change then have the choice to go through the internal “reorientation” required to come to a new beginning. Yet before the new has come, those in transition enter into what Bridges calls the “neutral zone.” And during that interim time, there is both chaos and also creative potential. Yet, it must be faced if the person or company faced with change are to transition well.
Back to working for a “texting company”. As I mentioned, I was reluctant to join a company that was simply known for being a texting company. However, as Taylor began to articulate his renewed vision, and the work the team had begun to do during COVID (not to mention the WHY), I realized that the company had already entered into the neutral zone prior to my arrival. And so I began to envision transformation. And that is my main objective as CEO, to see the company transform, from top to bottom, into something altogether different.
These two words, transition and transformation, are not thrown out lightly. After a certain amount of living and taking all the lumps life has to offer, I know these two ideas are not easily accomplished. However, I am setting out to lead the company through a transition, both internally and externally in order to bring the company, along with our customers, into a new beginning. We are attempting to change the story of IRIO and create a new platform to better serve our customers.
And when I say transform, I mean it. How we think (and how we are thought of), how we operate (hello EOS), how we serve our customers, and ultimately, IRIO’s identity.
And that is the main thrust of IRIO’s transition. Yes, we were innovators in the industry and we brought this to the market before texting in Multifamily was a thing. However, Taylor’s foresight and the team’s work over the last two years is about to be revealed. Early in 2023, IRIO will be changing its name and its mission and unveiling a vision to empower property managers by simplifying their tech stack to build a community at each location.
Authored by JS Bower, CEO