Proto’s ability to make the work more practical may also make it more meaningful from a talent perspective.
“It’s also just more interesting as an employee because you get to learn so much more. You develop deep craft but you’re also building horizontal expertise,” Rigby said. For example, a brand designer might also learn quite a bit about technology, econometrics, business modeling, and experience design. Employees have an opportunity to almost choose what they want to get better at, he explains. For as much as it’s about professional development, it’s also a competitive differentiator for clients. “One discipline makes the other disciple better,” Rigby said.
Proto’s relatively young age is another selling point; new hires can genuinely become a co-author of the consultancy. They’ll “help shape not just our values but decisions around clients, about what kind of work we want to do, what processes we want to take, and what kind of new practices we want to innovate,” Rigby said.
The tabula rasa nature of Proto presents a unique environment for its growing team. “From a talent perspective, it's been nice to build a business from scratch that doesn’t have a legacy or a culture or a way of working that was established previously,” Dennison said. “We have a blank slate and we get to be modern in our approach to how we think about talent, the way that we work, the systems that we create, the tools that we use, and we get to design with this context in mind, which is a huge advantage.”
“The real value that we add [for clients] is our ability to listen and help them navigate their organizations,” Dennison said. “So we look for EQ skills that ultimately make us good consultants and good partners.” The consultancy, for example, seeks people that are relentlessly optimistic, or “Optimist Primes,” Dennison said. (Yes, they’re into Transformers and yes, we think that’s pretty cool.)