A fun game might be to go to the Tampa office of inbound marketing firm Bluleadz and try to find someone who doesn’t know what’s going on. What did your teammates do yesterday? What are they struggling with? What professional development initiatives are on deck? What was Bob’s Happiness Score yesterday?
Entrepeneurial Operating System
With fifteen-minute team meetings each day, and weekly “retrospective and planning sessions,” plus a State of the Agency meeting every month, Bluleadz employees are hard to stump. CEO and founder Eric Baum believes in transparency, constant communication, and keeping everyone on the same page. Bluleadz’ culture owes a lot to the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) developed by Gino Wickman.
Bluleadz delivers websites, analytics, web content, marketing and sales campaigns and consultations to drive their clients’ inbound marketing efforts. Using an Agile Marketing approach, the agency works in teams of roughly eight to ten, with weekly sprints to create materials for clients, and a high degree of collaboration.
Happiness on the daily
The daily meetings keep everyone apprised of team members’ activities and supply updates on the progress of projects. In weekly meetings, the entire agency gets together to discuss and assess the previous week’s work and to preview the next sprint.
That’s where the Happiness Score is announced. A designer might give herself a 9 because she got good feedback from teammates and was able to make improvements; another team member may be at a 5.5 due to trouble getting through a heavy workload by deadline.
The goal is then to search for solutions to these identified pain points in the workflow, which have resulted in an unhappy Bob. In other words, Bluleadz has a proactive culture in which there’s no reason for people to keep problems bottled up, or for anyone to be in the dark about someone else’s discontent.
Digital and real-life collaboration
Treating everyone with respect, honesty, and consideration is one of Baum’s and Bluleadz’ core values. Criticism, sometimes expressed at the weekly meetings, must be constructive. And while in-person meetings are a big part of the company’s collaborative approach, team members also spend a lot of time on Slack. When a draft of a lead-nurturing e-mail or a web page or an e-book is done, it goes into an electronic workflow system where it is read and critiqued by others. Then comes revision, and ultimately, approval.
Baum answers questions from surveys at each monthly meeting. Recently, an employee expressed concern over the CEO’s ability to oversee a career-planning initiative while he was temporarily serving as a sales leader. In the company’s atmosphere of transparency and a free flow of information, Baum took this concern to heart, enlisted the help of a client services manager, and got the program launched as planned.
For Baum, a very big part of transparency is letting the whole office know when someone has done something well. Years ago, he felt that one member saying “good job” to another was, while positive, inadequate.
“It’s a whole different animal,” Baum says, “and much more effective if the whole team can experience” the appreciation and the work that inspired it. Not only does this pump up weekly Happiness Scores, but, in Baum’s view, serves as a key motivator.
To ensure the broadcasting of intra-office praise, Baum uses the appreciation platform Disco, which integrates with Slack to let everyone know who appreciates whom, for what. Baum installed a large-screen TV that displays kudos given via Disco.
Because Disco is used by Bluleadz as a part of Slack, it has a day-to-day use that Baum finds crucial for anything that is intended to be a part of the company’s culture. He says an appreciation tool “has to be on the top of everyone’s minds, has to be easily accessible.”
In this way, the appreciation component of Bluleadz fits seamlessly into the culture of accessible feedback and information.