Tagged: culture

Sixty five


There is a discernible uplift in energy about the place, but it’s not all roses. Our first experiments at trying to capture meetings digitally haven’t gone down too well. Let’s just say the phrase “Big Brother” made it on the tag cloud of the enterprise social network!

For the moment, we’ve pulled back from exhaustive logs of meetings to what’s become known as ‘working out loud’ – a combination of journaling what you’re doing so that others might find out and follow your efforts, and ensuring the work itself is discoverable during the process so others can jump in if doing so might add mutual value.

There is a fine balance here. Attenzi strives for transparency and openness, which can only mean the same is required of each individual that makes up Attenzi. We want to remove the friction holding back access to data, information and knowledge and yet some people have a genuine reluctance to share, particularly when doing so undermines a mechanism central to their maintaining a certain self-identity, authority or personal power.

Attenzi doesn’t employ a sociologist – perhaps we should.

I’m not criticizing people; it’s more an observation of human nature. We need to establish new mechanisms that legitimately help serve the same human needs and that help Attenzi pursue its vision. My understanding of network science’s appreciation for nodes / agents (people!) means this shouldn’t be an impossible nut to crack, although sunlight will still change the status quo I’m sure, to some people’s pleasure and others’ displeasure.

Forty five (i)

It was the time of day when I was supposed to sum up our journey and shine a light on the way forward. We’d all seen how the topics of the day had joined up, so to speak, and I wanted to emphasize this in the wrap up.

“I’m proud to have joined this company because Attenzi is made up of people like you. You and your colleagues have made Attenzi what it is today – a well-respected company that makes well-respected products. We’ve been gifted this great heritage, and its beholden on us to build the future heritage. And make the numbers of course!

“The company has achieved its half-century because over those years its people have been sufficiently astute to recognize what to carry forward and what to change, what to protect and what to challenge. Sometimes, we have been at the vanguard of product design. Sometimes we have been fast-followers. Sometimes we have decided some things don’t fit the Attenzi way at all.

“You know however why I was invited to join the company. In recent months I’ve described it as Attenzi not sitting squarely in the world. So we got down to business together, turning the handle on the normal sort of stuff.

“People? Yeah, you know what, they’re great. Tick.

“Processes? Always room for improvement, and we’re on to it. But perhaps some of the stuff we’re talking about today will require us to re-shape current processes. Half-tick.

“Product? Our loyal customers are testament. Sure, we need to pick up the rate of innovation as the world speeds up, and we’re working on this. Hmm… half-tick.

“Culture? I like it. Mostly. And it seems most every one likes it. I’m sure there are companies out there who have superior ways of nurturing the right culture at the right time, but I never got the feeling we needed a revolution in this regard. Again, perhaps new ways of thinking about Attenzi will demand we adapt the culture accordingly, but on the basis we’ve already demonstrated our openness to this, I’ll give it a tick for now.

“So what is it? What’s next?

“Well, to put it simply, I don’t see it as anything more or anything less than moving with the times, and preferably sooner than the competition does, and the times sure are moving in unprecedented ways.

Thirty four (i)

I thought I’d be first to arrive. It was 8am and we weren’t due to kick off until nine, but Tom (HR) had already settled in, as much as you can settle in to these uniform hotel meeting facilities replete with art no-one would actually buy for themselves. And cheap hotel branded pens that you’ve broken by lunch. And large flasks labeled “coffee” that dispense hot brown liquid only vaguely reminiscent of the good stuff.

“Morning. You’re early!”

“So are you,” Tom replied. “I just woke early and thought I’d head over before the traffic got heavier.”

“Yeah you say that. What you really mean is you love an away day. Go on, admit it!”

“Well I do love the opportunity to think beyond the day-to-day, learn what’s on everyone’s mind, and see how we can make a difference to the business. And of course this is the first with you at the helm.”

“Do we always have them here?”

“Yes”, Tom replied with visibly less enthusiasm.

Everyone was on time. Tom and I were soon joined by Marcus (COO), Sarah (CFO), John (IT), Michelle (Marketing), Yvonne (PR), Georgio (Product Dev), Bob (Sales). Unusually, our Chairman had asked if he might join us too “to get a feel for things”. And Saket, our external team member – the first time an outside party had joined an away day, or so William informed me.

We’d agreed a question to set the theme of the day and I scrawled it in big capitals on a flipchart to get things started:


You’ll recall the feeling about Attenzi when I joined was simply that it was doing OK. It worked, even if it didn’t seem to be firing consistently on all cylinders. I had subsequently referred to it as Attenzi not sitting squarely in the world. To be honest, I wasn’t sure quite what that meant, but it felt the right way to say it. So this question was designed to encourage some fresh long-term vision, to excite everyone for the journey and to inform the path we needed to plot to take us from here to there.

Perhaps Lorenz Capital’s understandable emphasis on the quarterly numbers had infected the culture more than was perhaps healthy. Not having been around in preceding years, it was probably impossible for me to figure out how the culture became the culture, and I wasn’t convinced it was cultural.