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Back from Culture Summit 2018

So, I’m back today, refreshed after a week of thinking about company culture with my colleague Clem [0] at Culture Summit 2018 [1] in San Francisco.

“But Adrian, you’re a techie, why are you going to Culture Summit? It sounds a bit fluffy.”

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, usually attributed to Peter Drucker [2]. It doesn’t matter who said it, but the idea is that if the culture of your organisation is solid, then when a new situation arises, the people who make up that organisation will be able to react appropriately, with less need for overall strategy or top-down control.

This is part of Infinity Works and what we do. We equip and empower individuals to think about how things can be improved then, most critically, to actually do it. To improve themselves, Infinity Works, products they’re working on for our clients, team structures they’re working in, business models that our clients are using - wherever the most impact can be made.

Infinity Works is growing fast. When Clem and I joined, we were 14 people. 3 years later, we’re around 200 and still growing. It’s a logistical challenge to get everyone together in the same place (although we still do that, at our yearly company getaway).

Our challenge isn’t to simply stick to the culture that made us successful in the early years and to use recruitment techniques to filter out anyone who doesn’t think exactly like us, but to adapt when we need to while still keeping true to what really matters.

So, we went to pick up some ideas, and it’s fair to say we did. Some felt uncomfortable to me (are you building a company, or a mind-control cult?), some weren’t appropriate for our scale (at least, not yet) and some totally obvious (so obvious that I’d never thought about it of course).

We learned that we’re ahead of the curve in some areas (e.g. our People Support, our use of OfficeVibe to get a weekly pulse vs most companies doing a once-per-year mega survey, communities of practice vs management led), but there’s still ways we can improve what we do and how we do it.

Overall, I’m happy I spent the time to think about this, and I’m even more happy to be part of an organisation that understands how culture is critical to success.

Clem and I need a bit longer to distill our thoughts into a presentation and do some follow-on workshops to start turning that into action, but that’s coming.

Oh, and don’t worry, we had time to have fun while we were there too. :)