The kind of company we're trying to be
We’ve grown from an organisation of one employee in 2019 to an organisation of five. As we’ve done so, we’ve tried to be very conscious and deliberate about how we are together.
I think I should get all the credit
I think I should get all the cake
We know that relationships matter, probably above anything else. We’ve tried to nurture CIA to be a company of relationships rather than a company of roles and hierarchies. We believe that line management relationships can often be one of the most damaging things about organisational life. After all, who doesn’t have a story about the damage done to them by a previous boss? But without the simplicity and clarity that comes from ‘reporting lines’ and ‘role descriptions’, we’ve had to get creative about how we relate to one another and how we work together.
Stu made the following comment: “There seem to be two accepted ways of doing work - either you think in terms of work/life balance and try to maintain clear dividing lines between your work and your personal life, or your work dominates everything. It’s like we’re trying to create a third way: we start with the personal and build the work in a way that flows out of who we each are as people.”
We’re trying to be a company that begins and ends with recognising our own and each other’s humanity. Looking after each other isn’t relegated to line-management meetings or an accidental afterthought based on the relationships you happen to build with your colleagues. Instead, it is the first and most important thing we attend to.
We’re trying to be an organisation where no-one is hemmed in by the confines of ‘this is your role, that is not in your job description’. We are trying to be an organisation where people are able to generate and get involved in work that interests them personally and plays to their strengths. We work to ensure we are all supported to step out of our comfort zone and develop new skills and interests.
We’re trying to be an organisation where everyone is able to influence the future of the company. We’re trying to be a company that challenges lazy assumptions. We try to always question, even when it’s personally painful and potentially threatening. We don’t ever want to accept ‘that’s just the way it is’ as an answer.
We talk LOTS. We talk as a whole group, as subgroups, as pairs. Sometimes we talk about nonsense or trivia. Sometimes we talk about our frustrations about all the things we don’t know or are not yet doing well enough. Sometimes we talk about how we’re personally struggling with our mental health, or trying to balance working in this crazy environment alongside caring for a small child, or the various other demands of real life like radiators falling off the wall overnight. We talk lots because knowing each other deeply is critical for doing great work together. We believe that trust is critical for honest learning and that trust can only be built through sharing.
We are trying to rely more on trust and conversation than on role and hierarchy. We trust each other to make the decisions they are best placed to make. When we need input from one another about the decisions we’re trying to make, we carve out the time to talk those things through. When there is a large decision about the company to make, we treat it as a collective responsibility rather than a positional one. Decision-making is a result of successfully persuading each other rather than positional authority. But this doesn’t mean we always seek consensus. We recognise that we will not always agree with one another, but when we don’t, we make sure the minority opinion is heard, remembered, and never trampled on.