Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cogent Departure

With sadness and trepidation I need to tell everyone that I plan to leave Cogent Consulting. I appreciate that you're not supposed to leave your own company, but I've rarely let what you're "supposed" to do govern my career. My departure from Cogent will create a hole, but I'm perfectly comfortable that the hole will be quickly filled. Marty Andrews will take over my role as decision-maker-of-last-resort, and I expect that most people, both staff and customers, will notice little difference on how Cogent runs or the quality of the service that it provides.

The decision to leave Cogent isn't an easy one, but sometimes opportunities come up that you simply can't ignore. I'll leave out the details of this particular opportunity since it isn't finalised, but I believe it's in the "can't ignore" category. It's quite possible that it won't turn out as I hope and I'll be back, but I need to find that out for myself. As my lovely wife said, "If you'd never created Cogent, you would have regretted it for the rest of your life. If you don't try this, you'll regret it for the rest of your life." Or as she said to our son, "would you like to have a family adventure this year?".

I'm very proud of what Marty and I have accomplished to date. We're running a company using approaches we were told were unrealistic, that simply wouldn't work, and Cogent's existence is proof to me that they can work. All the books of the company are open to all the employees, we don't put people on gigs they wouldn't choose to do themselves, and we try to make as many decisions as we can as a group. We share our profits in a fairly egalitarian way, and we've done some product development. We don't do any of this perfectly, but our hearts are in the right place. I'm a little more balanced about the pros and cons of these approaches, a little less naive, but I suspect that Rupert would still call me a Trotskyite. I wish I'd started this ten years earlier.

In many senses, as an individual I'm not important to Cogent. It's the principles, values and quality of the staff that separate Cogent from other companies and help us deliver great solutions at great value-for-money. All of these things will survive my departure. Cogent has always been managed by a small group with contributions from throughout the company, and this will continue. The trepidation I mentioned earlier is for myself, rather than for Cogent.

I expect to finish up with Cogent at the end of March, and I'll pass on more details as they become available.


  1. While you and I may not use the same approaches for doing things, I've always been in 100% admiration of your ability and decision making. You are really a great inspiration Steve - keep doing cool things so I can keep talking to you about them. I don't think I've ever learnt so much from somebody I've never worked with ;-).

  2. Congratulations on the "opportunity you can't ignore", and congratulations on what you achieved with Cogent.

    Whether it succeeded or failed (and it seems successful to me), Cogent would have been a worthwhile venture. The world is better for it.

  3. Steve, This is happening on the same day as iPad comes out. I know you are a kindle afficionado so am wondering where the secret opp is going.

    Really, done with style and openness - all the best. You continue to teach me lessons (good ones).