Slea’ = The Spearhead

Written by Eric Ulchakere

May 20, 2020

Slea’ = Celtic for Spearhead (Javelin)

Slea’ is our family: aligned.

The people that work at Apportis, our partners – HighBridge Consulting, Capital Success, Expeed Software, Futurety, Wellness Wishes, Time 2 Change Counseling, Wellness Collective, The Floriss Group, Focus on Funding, Rev1 Ventures, a few others that I cannot mention but you know we value you, and certainly our clients. This is who we are.

I have taken the term Slea’ and put it in our unique context, our tribe and what management practices are needed to create and reinforce our tribe.

The idea of strategic alignment is and always will be a much bandied about business term. There are oodles of books on Amazon you can order to help build strategic alignment at organizations. All are worthwhile, but our approach is a bit more primordial. Ours stems from the Maori term “whãnau.”

For Maori’s, Whãnau is your extended family. Your tribe.Slea

In Maori mythology it is symbolized by the spearhead, an image derived in turn from the flight formation of birds. A spearhead has three tips but for it to work properly, all the force must move in one direction.

For a flight of birds to operate at its most optimal efficiency it needs to become a beautiful machine; one bird leads, another follows, one tires, another takes the lead, in an endless synchronized support system.  This is the core of our strategic alignment efforts. All of us in alignment and optimizing each component to deliver on our purpose and strategy.

Why does Apportis call it Slea’ and mix Maori mythology with Celtic words?

To be honest, I had the privilege to work for an Irish owned company for nearly 5 years and I admired their quiet resolve. There were certainly command and control components of leadership in place, but it was never demonstrative or ego driven. They would relish efficiency, and their approach was exploratory and inquisitive, all ideas from anyone within the organization were examined. You felt connected to the whole. So I did a little mixing of Maroi mythology and added a dash of a little Irish magic!

Also, Apportis is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. It is crazy about the Irish Culture. Honestly, come visit for the Dublin Irish Festival held every August! But I digress… : )

Here is a simple way to test if your organization has a strategic alignment and is positioned for success.

Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. How well does your business strategy support the fulfillment of your company’s purpose?
  2. How well does your organization support the achievement of your business strategy?

As a start-up emerging into the market this year, we have had to rely on the second question to support our mission. The uniqueness of start-ups, the pivots, the testing of opportunities, and the multitude of near misses mixed in with the wins begets a strongly aligned team. Apportis would not be here today without the input and support of everyone working here and with us.  Our tribe.

If you want to learn more about these two questions there is a nice article in Harvard Business Review (2016) that is worth the read:

We now have a strong vision of what Apportis is to become, but how do we get there from here?


Apply our cultural lenses to our everyday actions, 24/7. Rinse and repeat.

To quote Owen Eastwood, a performance coach who worked behind the scenes with the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team (there are a lot of rugby players at Apportis):

The steps in developing a high-performance culture that reinforces our tribe are:

  1. Select on Character
  2. Understand your strategy for change
  3. Co-write a purpose
  4. Devolve leadership
  5. Encourage a learning environment

Eastwood goes on to state the that sixth and most important step is to begin to turn standards into actions. How do we get the six core values of Apportis to leap from the page and into practice?

Peer to peer reinforcement is key.

I, as the founder of the company, can say “this is what we do, no questions asked,” but our strategy and purpose cannot permeate our actions until those that work for Apportis can honestly have conversations about these values to each other and to me. We must hold each other up to these lenses and relish that the consistency in what we do will help develop our strategic advantages.

I could write for ages on each reinforcing action we do at Apportis… maybe that requires another series of posts.

Are we there yet? No. Do we have all the answers? Again, no.

But I can state that our tribe is aligned, and together we are unstoppable, Slea’.

Buckle up and let’s enjoy the unfolding of our journey.


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