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10 years of Strategy Compass

A few thoughts from Achim Sztuka

Reading time 3 minutes
Achim Sztuka CEO Strategy Compass

Düsseldorf, Commercial Register B, Number 60903. It is now exactly ten years since Strategy Compass has officially been in business. A pretty long time for those of us who have been there building it up right from the start. So it’s a good time to take stock.

We started out just like any other startup, albeit in our kitchen, not the garage (German winters are too cold for that). An initial homemade website. And our first client, who paid 200 Euros for one software license.

A few office relocations later, and we had a company that had quite successfully overhauled Microsoft Office-based communications at some of the world’s largest corporate groups. Not a bad effort…

When I founded Strategy Compass, I had a very clear idea about what I wanted and what I didn’t. Previous (very exciting) years as a business consultant and holding various roles within a corporate group had taught me a lot in that respect. Hence my question today: What exactly have we become?


Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

I consider this great little pearl of wisdom from Peter Drucker to be just as relevant as ever. My main focus had always been on the actual matter at hand. Internal politics, personal aspirations at others’ or the company’s expense, or ideas neglected due to personal sensitivities are all things that make me shudder. And they’re things I definitely did not want at my own company.

It’s been going well so far. We’ve managed to create a content and client-oriented culture in which everyone puts aside their own gains and concentrates on the big picture. For this to happen, not only do you need the right leadership and appraisal systems, but you also need to integrate completely different characters and lifestyles into the company. And in view of the constant growth, increasing complexity and a permanently high volume of projects, the internal processes and teams need to keep developing so that every single person is able to handle the requirements and doesn’t start focusing purely on their own self-interest. It’s certainly a challenging road which is not without its stumbling blocks, but we’ve always been moving in the right direction.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Only the best.

I’ve never seen myself as a classic salesperson. I always found it very difficult to sell something I didn’t really believe in. And my colleagues in management and sales have all shared a very similar view. So it was always essential for us to have the best product, the best staff for the respective job, and the best service. It is our firm conviction that what we do truly benefits our clients. Not just in terms of productivity, but also in terms of the quality of their communications, their decision-making and how they are perceived in their markets. The fact that we keep seeing the value of our holistic approach, regardless of our clients’ industry or background, is the second reason we continue to be confident we’re doing the right thing.


Mission accomplished? Not quite yet.

The potential for what we can offer is vast. There are many options we haven’t even got to yet. Our development pipeline is bulging, and if I could have my way, I would have it all ready today – much to the despair of some of my colleagues. But what I have learned during my years as an entrepreneur is that, while some things can progress very quickly, most require great patience and perseverance in order to be successful. Therefore, I’m excited to think what I’ll be writing here in another ten years.

Achim Sztuka

Achim Sztuka CEO Strategy Compass