Living our values: we-oriented [4/7]

Part four of a blogpost series on the InSites Consulting company values. Great organizations are more than just the sum of great individuals. No better way to illustrate this than by taking a look at the amazing things we can learn from nature. You may have witnessed it yourself: ‘living clouds’ created by thousands of starlings flying together, commonly referred to as ‘murmuration’. The way in which all the birds suddenly change direction or speed as if they were a single entity still remains one of nature’s secrets. The reason why starlings undertake this unique collective motion also remains unclear, with most scientists assuming it is to reduce predation risk. Only recently, two Michigan State University evolutionary biologists offered new evidence that evolution doesn’t favor the selfish. “We found evolution will punish you if you’re selfish and mean. For a short time and against a specific set of opponents, some selfish organisms may come out ahead. But selfishness isn’t evolutionarily sustainable,” said lead author Christoph Adami.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go togehter.” – African Proverb
Similarly, organizational strength, progress and resilience are determined by the extent to which individual employees ‘fly together’ as if they were a single entity working towards a common goal. A case in point here is the customer service model applied by Best Buy. Since 2008, more than 3,000 Best Buy employees registered for its Twitter customer service channel Twelpforce. Unlike traditional customer support services, Twelpforce access is not restricted to a select group of highly trained agents, but open to an existing talent pool of employees who welcomed the chance to share their knowledge in their spare time. It is the result of a company-wide team effort that goes way beyond the marketing department, unleashing the collective cross-disciplined wisdom of people throughout the Best Buy organization. Only recently, Best Buy decided to transition the energy and spirit of Twelpforce to its Best Buy ‘Unboxed online community’, uniting their employees and customers in one place to share their collective experience.
Not so long ago, I received the best compliment ever from one of our clients supporting the value we attach to ‘we-orientation’. The client told me that whoever he is working with or talking to at InSites Consulting, the experience feels ‘similar’ in the sense that a common DNA seems to be shared by all of us. With over 125 employees across 5 different offices, uniting people around our values and driving group collaboration requires all of our attention. Below are a few examples of actions we undertake to protect and further strengthen our ‘we’ culture.

Celebrating success together

Recognizing and celebrating team success is an essential condition to build team orientation. Our profit-sharing practice ensures that everyone at InSites Consulting benefits from our collective success. Every month, we praise the ‘project of the month’, putting everyone who contributed to that project in the spotlight and rewarding them with a bottle of nice wine. Creating a feeling of togetherness also means just saying thank you. One example here is our ‘Employee Appreciation Day’: a token of appreciation and a thank you to every colleague for being part of our team, for giving the best of themselves every single day and for making InSites Consulting into what it is and what it stands for.

Embracing group diversity

Creating a ‘we’ culture also implies adjusting to local cultures. Making people feel at home is not just about uniting them around a shared story and culture; it is also about paying attention to differences. With 11 different nationalities represented among our employees, we have many opportunities to learn from each other when it comes to cultural differences. For example, one small thing I learned about the Dutch is their habit to offer employees a ‘Christmas package’ at the end of each calendar year. Having a Belgian background, I was not aware of this at all. In our first year, the fact that our Dutch team members went home without a package definitely did not contribute to a positive ‘we-feeling’ (by now we have largely compensated for that mistake :)).

Tapping into collective wisdom

Collaboration is our middle name. Several of our leading methods depart from a ‘we research’ philosophy rather than a ‘me research’ one. By bringing together smaller crowds of people into a Consumer Consulting Board, we benefit from group dynamics and creativity which enable us to dig deeper and formulate better answers for clients. Using our crowd interpretation method, we involve groups of consumers in jointly interpreting visual stimuli, leading to fresher and more relevant insights. Similar to the platforms and techniques we use for tapping into the collective wisdom of consumers, we stimulate co-creation and collaboration among our team members as well. The Moderator Square platform facilitates cross-border thinking and collaboration among our community moderators all over the world, crafting the future together. Our yearly internal congress is another great example, with the content as well as the team building program being fully created by and for us.

Facilitating people connection

Doing things together is the best way to build a great ‘we’ atmosphere. Open office spaces, flexdesking, advanced digital and mobile technology: all of this aims at contributing to more intense and meaningful connections between people. Not just at the office, but also beyond: just check out the #insitessummer pictures people have been uploading during their summer holidays or read everything on our #insites100miles adventure, with 32 colleagues cycling from our Rotterdam to our Ghent office, thus donating more than 10,000 EUR to UNICEF!

You may have heard the expression “There is no ‘I’ in team”, which is totally nonsensical, – if you take a closer look. Great teams are by definition composed of great individuals and vice versa. The real challenge is to have everyone flying together in perfect harmony and positive spirit. Interested in learning more on how you are creating or witnessing murmuration at your company!

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