Traditional or Next Generation Organizations?
My dear friend Luis Suarez has a deep focus on why we work and how we work. He recently shared that it’s time to shift the conversation from traditional companies to next-generation ones.
Luis shares, “For those folks who may ask you whether it’s possible to become a #DigitalFirst organization, or not, or for those who may be skeptical for that matter, I think I’m going to start collecting examples of businesses that are already there, and not necessarily just because of the extraordinary times we’re currently living through, but because they have already embarked, for a good while already, into that fascinating journey of what it is like being a Next-Gen Org. Let’s go with the first one. Here is Sketch. And here is their inspiring and mind-blowing story https://bit.ly/3IaU29g on ‘Inside Sketch: remote working from day one.”
Trust and Communication Are the Foundations of Next Generation Organizations
Not only is this story music to my ears but when I started reading the article, I felt pure joy to see that so much is emerging and being created in our world in ways that support us. Sketch is in business to provide all the tools needed for a truly collaborative design process. From early ideas to pixel-perfect artwork, playable prototypes and developer handoff.
The company has been remote from the outset with the co-founders living in different countries. They hire people who align with their purpose, vision and mission, regardless of location. “In this way, the way we work has always been dictated by what works best for remote teams. From hosting written, asynchronous meetings where people chime in their own time, to company-wide virtual murder mysteries, Sketch is built with its people in mind. The key is great communication — just like in every company.”
And here is a summary, in their own words, of what they are bringing to the world, their customers and employees:
- With chat interviews, the idea is to strip the conversation from those common biases we are all raised with. We’re not focusing on how the person looks or how they talk. Instead, we’re getting a sense of their written communication skills — the most important skill to have at Sketch.
- People usually start remote companies with a team that already has full trust in one another. The real challenge comes when you start expanding the team and bringing in new people. Sketch has managed to maintain that trust — it’s ingrained in its culture. In this way, it’s easier for newcomers to immediately grasp what people expect of them — and what is offered in return.
- Choosing your own schedule, and letting others know about it, is what works best for us as a team. Status updates range from a simple ‘Unavailable today’ to a specific ‘Taking Cuca to the vet, I’ll be back after lunch.’
- While designing Sketch (the product), one of our main goals has always been bothering our users as little as possible. We are firm believers in respecting people’s time, and that rings true for our internal communication as well. From the beginning, the message is setting expectations for what the conversation is about, how long it will take and who’s invited. No surprises!
- When all of your communication is text-based, there is no water cooler for casual chat. So instead, we have channels dedicated to socializing. Joining these channels is totally optional, but it’s a much more organic way to get to know your colleagues and bond with them. These spaces make it possible to meet people you may not usually cross paths with, helping Sketch feel like a single team and not a group of departments. From my point of view, these organized socialization spaces are what have helped Sketch maintain its culture throughout the years.
At the heart of new ways of working are trusted relationships, whole living systems and community. While Luis calls them DigitalFirst, I like to believe that the digital is the structure that allows us to let go of legacy systems and build meaningful organizations that thrive because people matter. And when we have people, things can get messy, which is simply part of life and why communication and discernment are key.
It’s not a question of how we work as much as it is about how we spend our lives and it’s exciting to see that there are always healthy ways to explore. Anything and everything is possible when we question everything and explore next-generation organizations that are coloring outside the lines.