Bringing the team together
I was named CEO of Nemesol Oy on the 8th of August 2016. Almost exactly a year before that I was starting a cultural change in Nemesol that has changed everything in the way we work as a team. This is the first post on that change, which is still very much a work in progress.
We were still recovering from the really tough year of 2014. Money was running out, people were put on forced vacations and we saw our first ever firing. At the same time we had our most challenging customer consulting project going on, which played its part in splitting the team into parts even further from the split that had been happening for years before.
I needed to get the team together again. We were based in a large 130m2 office at the outskirts of Helsinki. The problem was that nobody wanted to be there and nobody had time to be there. There was no forum for team building.
In the late spring of 2015 we started looking for a central location for our office. Somewhere everybody would have easy access to. In a city like Helsinki there is only one place like that. The center. The very center. We browsed through a few places and finally found what we had been looking for. A cost-effective shared office space with a shared kitchen and conference room in Aikatalo around 300 meters from the railway station. We had a place where everyone would come.
Transparency through roles
On my summer vacation 2015 I stumbled upon Holacracy and was immediately inspired. Their slogan is “Holacracy replaces the traditional management hierarchy with a new peer-to-peer “operating system” that increases transparency, accountability, and organizational agility.”. This sounded great, sounded like something we might use, so I started reading and trying to understand it. It quickly became evident that the whole Holacracy concept was way too bulky for a small team like ours. But the roles, the non-hierarchical roles inspired me and kept me awake at night. I started to see the roles of our company with new clarity. I started to define them and document them and got excited on how it felt. I now had a plan for a new culture in mind. Now I needed to get the team involved.
For October 2015 I booked the whole team for weekly whole day planning meetings to together define Nemesol as an organization and as roles running the business. The concept was a tough sell but at the end of the month we had something that we had never had before – everybody in the team knew what Nemesol is built out of and what we do. Everything was elegantly described and documented as roles. Our purpose was clear.
We are already seeing the benefits. The roles bring agility to our organization in way not possible before. Monthly role meetings allow us to quickly react to changes by redefining responsibilities, removing obsolete roles or adding new ones.
Work in progress
We are still redefining our role organization and testing new different ways to further improve on how we work day-to-day with the roles.
Our vision is to use roles to tie together all of Nemesol operations from strategy to execution. We are for example currently testing role based compensations and a role developer pool, which I will be writing on in a future post once we have some more experience with them.