Organizational Culture, History in the Making

Written by SuperUser Account on 12/18/2014
Organizational Culture, History in the Making

This month 5 Stones Media reached another landmark in our company's history: we moved our offices to a 2,600 square foot location in Hammond's historic downtown district. This would be our second move as a company, and I expect that in two years we'll be building a state of the art facility that truly suits our needs.

What makes this particular move significant is twofold.  First, it's the realization of a dream that Brian Walker, co-founder, and I shared - we wanted to be downtown from day one. Second, the new facility allows us to better serve our clients and provide greater career opportunities for our team members.

At the forefront of growth and change, I’ve been thinking more and more about why preserving our organizational history is critical at a time such as this. Moreover, I've been seeking to leave bad habits behind while embracing new ideas into our culture or at least bringing certain things into the everyday work life more.  What I discovered could be summed in the following realizations: 

Brand preservation and evolution can work hand in hand

Like a car manufacturer making design changes to vehicle models from year to year, I wanted to retain those things that make 5 Stones Media stand out while embracing growth and new opportunities.

Preserving the aesthetics was easy: we had leftover paint cans, kept most of our office furniture and wall decorations, and adhered to our established brand conventions.  But what about the makeup of the culture? Looking at both how and why we did things was critical. Hence, preserving the open flow of ideas that fosters collaboration was just one of many crucial aspects that we wanted to retain and build on. By way of example, it was clear that we would be keeping our open workstations, but how could we do more to facilitate increased camaraderie? While a simple solution, we created a congregational area complete with reclining sofas, beanbag chairs and a foosball table. This may not sound ground breaking, but imagine team meetings where we discuss ideas as a family or brain storm while engaged in some friendly competition.

Community is built on shared experiences

Decision makers have to consider budgets and the wellbeing of an organization when looking at ongoing practices. So while in the last move various members were more physically involved in preparing the previous office for operations, it was clear that this time around we could and should tap into other resources.

However, we were careful to include the team in the renovation process as much as we could. For example, regular updates were given at our weekly team meetings, and field trips were taken to see the progress first hand.  More hands on, a big reveal Facebook campaign was developed by the social media team, and members of the design team were consulted when choosing accent wall colors and helped paint the company logo on the building's main interior wall.

Lastly, the combined efforts of all were recognized when 5 Stones Media opened its doors to the business community through an official Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting and open house. Attendees included the mayor and other civic leaders, business partners, friends, and family members.

You can't forget where you started

While dwelling on the past can hinder growth, it's essential to understand the journey to really know where you're headed as an organization. I love talking about how the company started with two guys creating websites who then seized opportunities for growth. It's true that some, like adding social media management, have taken the company far beyond what web development alone could have done. Other ides have come and gone while others left on the table might have been game changers.

Unfortunately life presents very few redo's. One should not get hung up on bad decisions or pat oneself on the back too hard for success. What's important is building the organization's legacy on those stories where past challenges were turned into opportunities and putting into practice all lessons learned - especially the difficult ones. 

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