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Culture and Collaboration May 15, 2006

Posted by newyorkscot in Management.

Creating and fostering a culture that is truly energetic, interesting, collaborative and social is no easy task. Doing that within a consulting firm where 80% of the employees are on client site is even tougher. As Matt referenced in his blog, a culture cannot be manufactured… 

One of things I have been told by many of the employees at my previous employer (remember these are really solid engineers) is that they want to:

  • Have an interesting variety of technical work, where they can learn new techniques and technologies
  • Learn more about the Financial Services domain
  • Work with like-minded people with whom they can collaborate on projects, learn about what others are doing & learning
  • Have continuous exposure to the ongoing success of the company and to understand where they fit in
  • Have access to personal and professional development activities
  • Have fun !!

I am not saying you can just set this up, flip a switch and off we go. But it is very clear that there needs to be the willingness from the top-down to support and drive many of these facets from a financial, principal and energy perspective.

The company owners/management need to provide a framework to facilitate these things, drive and embrace employee ideas and provide a lot of energy and focus in showing their committment to following these ideas through. Techies know techies the best, so why not ask them what they want to do and incent them to build and keep the momentum.

Some obvious ideas include:

  • Company wiki to provide cross-functional transparency within the firm. This includes who is doing what on projects, who are the clients, what are the technical challenges, what's the status of marketing, sales, corporate initiaitves, social events, training programs, etc. Everyone must have access to most of it.
  • Regular (meaning EVERY WEEK) open (brown-bag, etc) meetings or forums for people to talk about what they are doing. Mix it up a bit: sales one week, an client project another, etc.
  • Social events, both formally organized by company as well as informally with groups of employees. Use the email / wiki to collaborate.

and above all, get rid of the politics, micro-management and closed doors !

Whatever the approach or execution, the management of the company needs to embrace and foster this as one of THE most important things it does with its money. A consulting firm is its people. No happy people, no long term prospects for company.



1. Matt - May 16, 2006

“get rid of the politics, micro-management and closed doors” AGREED, I think we have both seen to much of this type of “style”.

Additionally I would add that in my humble view the company needs a vision, since culture needs a direction.

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