Leader of the leaders: Cuxiang Buhana, the CEO and Co-founder of Blankontech
Cuxiang Buhana, CEO and Co-founder of Blankon Technology Solutions (Blankontech). Find out more about Blankontech here.
Cuxiang got involved in building a company because he and his partner, Hendrik, had worked as freelancers. At that time, they both realized that a freelance job meant that they were working backstage. They want to get involved in the product’s success, not only in the quality but also in the market.
“We can’t know or monitor the result of our project; is it a success or not? Acceptable or not? We can only control the code’s quality, so we start thinking how to start from backstage, but we also can monitor the output.”
Cuxiang and Hendrik desire to know that their product is acceptable in public, so that’s the start of Blankontech.
Blankontech is the shortened of Blankon Technology Solutions, and the real question is, why Blankon?
It’s the development from the words Blank that combines with Tech. Cuxiang and Hendrik want Blankontech to be the right place for people who wish to make a successful digital product but have no idea about tech.
“We hope that the clients who want to make a digital product but don’t know anything about technology will run to Blankontech.”
Responsibility as CEO
As CEO, Cuxiang has two primary responsibilities: the internal of Blankontech’s environment and the External as a representative of Blankontech.
The internal responsibility is more focused on Maestro; he continually collaborates with Dinda as HR to look up the maestros and check their progress and blocker. Cuxiang also makes sure the business is always running.
“Because two factors, internal and external, impact the business’s cycle. Internal factor is like when your business is stuck, so we must evaluate because every business model has market saturation. For every graphic, whether up or down, we must evaluate them. Besides external factors, it can happen when there is the impact of inflation or another external factor that is out of our power.”
CEO in being a leader
Cuxiang shares how he is trying to be a good leader but does not want to be remembered as a leader by Maestros. In Blankontech, we implemented OKR (Objective Key Result), in which we set the company’s goal at the beginning of the year. Every department has its own OKR to achieve the leading company’s purpose. Cuxiang’s primary responsibility as CEO is to ensure that every department achieves its goal.
As CEO, he believes in every Maestro in every department.
“Instead of being bossy, I dedicated myself more to help and make sure every department gets the goal in every quarter.”
Even though there is a ‘CEO’ title on his shoulder, he has been trying to eliminate that gap for every employee since day one. Cuxiang constantly socializes with other Maestro, so over time, Maestro doesn’t see Cuxiang in a higher position than them.
“I always want an equality position in this company. We tried and told every Maestro since the first day.”
As a leader, we must become good listeners- said Cuxiang. It’s important to hear and understand others’ perspectives and opinions when there is a problem. After fully understanding them, we can start giving our feedback and avoid being judgemental.
Cuxiang doesn’t want to be seen as a ‘leader’ by other maestros; he wants to be the same, make one team as Maestro in Blankontech, and that’s also implemented in all kinds of leaders in Blankontech.
“The key is contributing and helping, practically.”
Scope of work
A good leader contributes to reaching the goal, not just giving a task to an employee and he e also has his task. Blankontech has several internal projects. Cuxiang is helping with creating documentation for the success of the internal project we’ve been working on.
There are two internal projects that Cuxiang’s working on:
-Helping the company’s growth by documenting
-BIP Project; besides Social Development Company, Cuxiang has been working on a secondary product of Blankontech. The project is on the travel and hospitality sector, especially in logging. Cuxiang is the product manager of the BIP Project, helped by Livia. As a PM, Cuxiang’s tasks are about interviewing the stakeholder from the hotel’s side, the expected clients, and doing research.
Cuxiang’s right hand- CTO, CMO, CFO
For Cuxiang, a CEO must be a visioner. To happen he is helped by the C-Level and leads from each department. CTO, CMO, and CFO are the leading positions directly involved with Cuxiang’s decisions. They allow for data support and update for trends in their niche.
Of course, even a CEO can’t work alone, and since we are a start-up company, Cuxiang said that we are not implementing an old bureaucratic school system. Instead, we are adapting to the agile ecosystem, in which all the team will be in one circle, no matter the title. So is Cuxiang. He doesn’t get the information from C-level or leads, only from all employees.
Something special from CEO
Even though CEO is the highest title in a company, in Blankontech’s environment Cuxiang is just like other employees who work together in each capability. The unique thing about CEO is he brings the ‘time out at the right time, even when we don’t even realize it. Cuxiang also learned that sometimes he saw Maestro is too excited with their work.
“I just thought maybe it’s the right time to play werewolf for taking a break?”
There is plenty of break time that we usually play. Besides playing werewolf, we also have a billiard table in the office, and sometimes we go outside for futsal, work from the cafe, and basketball.
But the sure thing is that a CEO is in charge of driving the company where to go, we set the goal together, but as the chief of everything, he is like the driver that brings our bus to achieve the goal!
What is the unique thing abt your team?
Because we are a start-up, everyone in Blankontech is brave to try new things, so they have a thought to grow and constantly bring the company to the next level. Maestro also very much respected people, so every decision taken were discussed in a calm situation and accepted by all member.
Why do you call it Maestro? Any characters you look up from ‘maestro’?
Basically, the word ‘maestro’ is the people who are art experts and a person who creates a masterpiece. Blankontech adopted the term “Maestro” to call employees because all employees in Blankontech are a person who is experts in their fields like Backend, Frontend, UI/UX, QA, Marketing, Market research, Sales, Finance, dan HRD. Cuxiang said that a collaboration from each department that they (Maestro) did is creating a masterpiece product.
How do I feel as your team grows and gets bigger?
All leaders will be delighted to see the team they form develop. However, it is undeniable that the sense of responsibility and anxiety also increases.
The addition of members also has an impact on the responsibility that must be great as well because the leader must ensure that all of them can live prosperously, have a clear career path, and a specific business so as not to create a sense of doubt and fear to work at Blankontech.
To beat his tight schedule, Cuxiang arranged his task by setting priorities based on his goals. Goals Wizard helps him to manage his daily task. That’s why he continuously checks his Goals Wizard right after waking up.
After checking up on his schedule and coming to the office, he usually checks his Email and Slack because both are important as the door to communication with others. He also likes to open Linkedin to start his day by reacting and comment on his connection’s posts. He said that he gained positive energy from that.
Let’s break down Cuxiang’s schedule for a week
-Sprint Planning and Weekly Review
Sprint planning and weekly review are meetings attended by all leaders in Blankontech. We plan and sync for what we will do for a week in Sprint planning that has been running since the beginning of this company.
“The idea is from Hendrik, my partner. He’s been working in a team-play for a long time that implements sprint planning, so he brings that our company considers sprint planning is good and effective for the team.”
Through up and down, we can’t stick to the same system when our team is getting bigger, as the Sprint planning.
“Our sprint used to be attended by all members in all positions to hear everybody plan and progress, but now to make it effective, it is only attended by leaders.”
In sprint planning, we plan, then in the weekly review, we review.
The weekly review is the following sprint planning, and we share progress, what we have done, and the block or problem in the past five days.
“weekly review is more to review what we’ve done. Is it achieved or not? We can also measure the percentage of out tickets, how well we can manage our expected task.”
First thing first, why its called ‘daily standup?
“Because in daily standup, we can only meet by max 10-15 min in total to report our task today.”
Cuxiang only has three days for a daily meeting (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) because, on Monday and Friday, we have sprint planning and weekly review.
Special on this week- Retrospective
We not only have daily standup, sprint planning, and weekly review, but we also have retrospectives for monthly evaluation events. Cuxiand said Retro is part of an agile ecosystem that discusses what we can improve, remove or suggest of all Maestro.
“We want to know what maestros feel. Maybe there is a system that we’ve implemented but in practice is not effective, so Retro is the best time and place to convey that”
Retrospective had some journey since it is indeed a special occasion for Blankontech. We used to be a must-say-aspiration by the one-by-one employee. But now we have adjusted it to an anonymous aspiration collected using a third-party platform. Cuxiang hopes that all Maestro become more comfortable speaking about their opinion and have enough time to think about it.
Retro focuses on the employee because the purpose is to make a better environment time by time. That’s why there is some special thing about Retro;
-half-day work for all employees in d-day Retro, so we can take more time to discuss and bonding
-All employees attend Retro without any except, all title even the cleaning service team
-not just an ordinary dinner, the best match with retro time is bbq time!
Cuxiang realized Retro is a perfect time for the team to bond and get closer to each other, so he decided that special ‘excuses’ would support the atmosphere. In Retro, Cuxiang’s responsibility is to lead the discussion, ask every member’s opinion, and shout out the vote until dealing with all the aspirations. At the beginning of Retro, we also discussed the last Retro. Is it all implemented, and if not, he and the related team will explain that.
Another topic outside the job
Cuxiang always wants to engage with all Maestro, sharing about the story about each other’s turn points. He also talks about hobbies and similar sports interests, specifically basketball, football, and gym.
Cuxiang likes to talk about basketball with Kevin since they both are in the same college and have been fans of local basketball competitions. About the gym, he usually goes with his partner, Hendrik. Apparently, both founders care not only care about their company but also their health. Cuxiang are fans of Barcelona, but Toni are fans of Real Madrid, so they usually watch football games and tease each other quite often.
Tips as CEO
-Don’t be overthinking- for Cuxiang, everything will always be a way out, so we can’t just be frustrated and give up. You will always find a way.
-Always hold tight to your life’s guidelines. In Cuxiang’s case, he always believes that make another person do what you want to do and don’t directly blame others, be mindful and self-introspection
-Self-reward- you need to take time and take a budget for your self-reward
Slack, ClickUp, Goals Wizard, and Udemy.
Goals Wizard is essential to Cuxiang as CEO because we can plan specifically and set goals.