Our most recent adventure took us to the beautiful LinkedIn office here in Hong Kong. We took on the challenge to design and facilitate a high-energy, interactive session to explore their company culture. It was a real pleasure. The team are awesomeness personified. Shout out to Ray,thanks for organising it.
By way of context, we took on this challenge to show them how we work, rather than tell them. We are starting a partnership with LinkedIn and what better way to get started! They gave us 30 of their people and two hours, and we gave them everything we had!!!
30 people. Two hours. Four activities….
1. Culture is tangible.
In the first activity, we divided the group into small teams and gave them the challenge of bringing LinkedIn’s culture to life using different mediums. One group went around the office taking Polaroid photos. Another created a playlist to serve as the company’s background music. The point being that culture exists beyond words on a piece of paper. Instead culture rests in the sights, sounds and visuals we experience everyday.
2. Culture is built on a foundation of real stories
No one walks around talking about how their behaviours are aligned to the company’s values – unless they’re joking or being sarcastic. But as human beings, we are wired to communicating through stories. For the next challenge, we got the group to think about real stories that were ‘so LinkedIn’ versus stories that are anti-LinkedIn. Some incredible stories emerged that encapsulated LinkedIn’s open, friendly culture. And of course, there were some hilarious examples of things you’d never hear in their office.
3. LinkedIn Personas
Next prompt was – imagine if you were at a party, how would you be able to tell if someone works at LinkedIn? The challenge was to create personas of the type of people that work at LinkedIn. Things got really funny here. People got up and acted out the personas in skits with hilarious scenarios. While all good and fun, the idea was to think deeply and try to codify the type of personalities that fit in at the office. Who succeeds at LinkedIn? Who doesn’t? As teams grow, it’s important to be really mindful about the types of personalities that are added as each and every person contributes towards the culture.
4. Culture is answering ‘why’.
The final activity offered some time for reflection. We are all great at describing what we do and we do it that makes us different from others. But we are not very good at communicating why we do something. The most inspiring leaders and the best companies always start with ‘why’ first; they define their purpose. They know that external factors can change what they do and how they do it, but their purpose is the core which lasts over time. Everyone got a moment to reflect on why they get up every morning. Why they work at LinkedIn. Why the company even exists.
Just like that, the morning flew by! We had so much with our friends at LinkedIn. They have such a fantastic culture and we walked away with lots of input from their team. We returned a few days later with creative that captured the LinkedIn culture.
We produced the LinkedIn Hong Kong Manifesto, we also designed a box set of 10 cards and some sarcastic posters for their office.