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What happens when the "pasty-faced tech introverts" move from backroom operations into the creative heart of a business?

Chad Willard and Gregg Knowles from plan.com chart the changing role of tech in telecommunications.

It's difficult to get hold of Chad and Gregg for this interview. In their own words, they are "more than busy" as they juggle the day-to-day demands of IT maintenance with a host of "long-term projects".

Comparing their work to managing an ER department, the pair, from Florida and Coventry respectively, head up a team of 17 developers handpicked from all over the world to pioneer a new way of working.

In short, it's tech, but not as you know it. It's a merger, a hybrid, a model that has developed because of industry demand, not despite it.

Gregg said: "People who come up in the tech industry tend to feel downtrodden and unimportant because when something goes wrong, it's always their fault and when things go well, the assumption is they're not doing anything.

"They get bad press – pasty-faced introverts who prefer to work in the background. In traditional companies, people have a meeting and then tell the tech team what to do, but at plan.com this notion gets turned on its head. The tech team is included from the beginning and asked to come up with ideas to drive the business forward – it's a completely different way of working," he added.

The template, which flies in the face of convention, coaxes the tech professionals out of the shadows into the limelight.

"I used to be very quiet," continued Gregg, "I was reluctant to speak out but over the years I've grown in confidence. I've realised you can have the best idea in the world but if you can't communicate it, you aren't going to get a buy-in.

"We have a lot of ideas in our department; stupid ideas that have turned out to be brilliant. That's what we're all about – very, very stupid ideas that are very, very successful."

We have a lot of ideas in our department; stupid ideas that have turned out to be brilliant. That's what we're all about – very, very stupid ideas that are very, very successful.

GREGG KNOWLES

This unusual business model has brought the company a lot of success and several industry awards, which begs the question, why isn't everyone doing it?

"Because it's incredibly difficult," said Chad Willard.

"It means dealing with chaos, change and innovation. Not everyone can do that.

"We tell people at interview, if you want a job where you sit in a cubicle all day and no one bothers you, where you punch in numbers and go home on time, you're in the wrong place.

"We are constantly on our feet and may have about four projects on the go at any one time.

"In larger firms, tech is outsourced – it's treated like a service, but we prefer to keep it slap-bang at the heart of everything we do."

A quick look inside the plan.com office backs up this claim. The tech department sits in the same room as finance, sales and marketing – a setup which means each team becomes 'part of the dance'.

"When someone asks us to do something we can deliver in hours as opposed to days, week or years. No one is pretending it's easy, but it's worth it," continued Chad.

"We love the immediacy because we are adrenaline junkies and this work is addictive. It's like being launched to the moon on a high-speed, stuck-to-your-seat journey. It's why people come from all over the world to be a part of it."

When someone asks us to do something we can deliver in hours as opposed to days, week or years. No one is pretending it's easy, but it's worth it

CHAD WILLARD