Today many companies chase the perfect corporate culture in hopes of gaining more engagement, productivity and loyalty from their workforce. They try everything from ping-pong tables and beer-kegs to offering fringe benefits like dry cleaning and housekeeping. But is this culture really king?
All of our core values stem from community. This important concept informs what we do and how we work, and we’d like to invite you to join us in embracing it. In this post, part two of a short series, we filter the buzz on culture.
What’s so great about community?
In Part 1 of this series we discussed how corporate culture, which refers to the beliefs and behaviors that inform how employees and management interact with one another and the outside world, is often singular and prone to exclusion.
Community refers to a group of individuals who hold at least one common interest and develop formal or informal policies based on shared goals. The basis of a community is fellowship and caring relationships; it emphasizes shared interest over shared beliefs. Communities have varied, nuanced opinions but still work well together. In fact, these diverse perspectives may even complement one another, leading to diversity of thought, which has a tendency to lead to better outcomes. This is especially true where design thinking is concerned.
How do we build better communities?
As designers, we have an ability to shape reality and the objects we create. Over the years we’ve participated in, created and helped foster local and national communities, both individually and as a team. Through those experiences, we’ve broken down three concepts we find are key to maintaining thriving communities.
Humans want to be and feel heard—we crave assurance that our voice is an equal participant in the larger systems of how we operate. Collaboration brings multiple voices into a cohesive output. Strong communication creates a solid foundation for people to build on, and the subsequent collaboration brings these multiple voices into one cohesive output.
We encourage honest discussion, brainstorming, critique and cooperation in the teams we work with, mentor and foster. Finding ways to effectively bring more people around challenges that encourage open thinking, and finding that balance between group thinking and smart decision-making, is something that excites and encourages both of us.
Throughout our careers, we’ve founded and helped maintain communities that continue to support us in our journeys, both locally and nationally. Investment of time and resources into these communities has resulted in tremendous personal and professional growth, but also a sense of empowerment in watching creations come to life. Giving back to community is about a level of care that can feel otherwise absent in our industry; it is the spirit that is vital to a community’s success. Demonstrating the correlation between giving back and personal/professional growth in these communities is a crucial piece of leadership development.
Sharing skills may seem counterintuitive in the competitive tech space, but we believe sharing helps make our communities stronger. Guarding methods and skills is becoming increasingly harder in the internet age, and inhibits true success. We’ve learned best through sharing what we know and learned with our clients, colleagues and friends, allowing us to grow together. We don’t feel we’re losing anything by collaborating with the broader community — instead, it gives us value and empowers us in forming a structure for growth.
Believe us yet?
The idea of community over culture isn’t a new one for us, but it’s something we’re just beginning to articulate. We invite you to challenge us, share your thoughts and experiences, and begin a dialogue. We’re currently developing workshops that will help organizations identify their internal communities and forge stronger bonds between them.
Look forward to more from us on this topic as we our conversations and dig even deeper into current research. In the meantime, be sure to check out some of the communities we’ve been building.