I delivered a workshop today at the head office of a global business: a young and dynamic company that’s growing fast. As is often the case, growth means opening new offices and, in their case, colonising extra floors of existing ones.
I arrived at HQ and found a door. “This is the service entrance“, crackled the intercom, “Go round to the front“. So round i went.
The front entrance was grand: wide doors leading into a lobby, past an artfully nude sculpture and up escalators, witnessing the panoramic ceiling unveiled before me on the six floor high hall.
“No, not here“, proclaimed the security guard at the desk blocking my way, “Round further“. So round I went.
At the end of this near circumnavigation, the third time paid for all. A smaller entrance with a friendly welcome. The reason for the long trek? A desire for an entrance that matched the company values: usable, pragmatic, good enough and serviceable. Not a lofty, Art Deco and grandiose statement of power. The company wanted an entrance that reflected its personality and culture. Grounded.
I like this reflective nature of many Social Age businesses: wanting to succeed, but aware that their work is not complete, that they are on a journey. Like the Facebook office i visited where the stairwell, sunk through the middle of four levels, had unfinished sides where the stairs pierced the floor: concrete and steel lay visible, a reminder of work part done. A company in progress.
Because culture is not granted from on high: it’s co-created in the moment by these and a million other decisions. It’s the ways we act, the conversations we have, the emails we send, the messages we project, the ways we dress, the way we respond to how others dress, it’s the website and the brochure. The culture is an artefact, not predictive. It’s as fickle as getting ideas above our station.
So it’s in these big decisions as well as the myriad small ones that I see the signs of a company aware of its present and cognisant of its future. And that’s a great foundation to build off.