What is "culture" and why do we take so much time trying to define it? Is it really important or just another buzzword? This past weekend, we were afforded the opportunity to have a company retreat, that went the distance in proving that culture is something that can't be bought and paid for, it's something unique to us and our success really does hinge on its influence. Our people, our relationships, our "culture" is what makes Mediacurrent, Mediacurrent.
Over 40 members of our team flew and drove in from across the country for four days filled with collaboration, fun and really "getting to know" each other. The weather was great and the people were even better! We arrived on Thursday, welcomed by luscious greenery and chirping birds at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.
That evening we started the event off right with a pizza party followed by an evening of board games and conversations. After an early breakfast on Friday, the whole team got together for company updates, a guest speaker and a chance to share their opinion with both the large group and in smaller, breakout question sessions. It was a chance to brainstorm, discuss, and really share ideas that are important to us — especially since we're fortunate enough to have owners that want to hear those ideas!
Friday night kicked off the "fun" with an enthusiastic evening of karaoke. The rock star juices were flowing, complete with "Sweet Caroline", "Wild Thing", "I'll Be", and capped off with an all-hands-in performance of "Friends in Low Places". On Saturday morning, it was time for more fun. The staff at Callaway entrusted us with the keys to golf carts and a frenzied Photo Hunt Challenge ensued. Thankfully, everyone made it through the challenge safely and without a <major> scratch. Following the scavenger hunt, employees broke off for an afternoon of exploring the grounds themselves, which for some included zip-lining, biking, or walking through the butterfly gardens. To end the day, everyone met up for one last group activity — an evening of group trivia, complete with prizes for the winners.
Even after three days of fun and team-building, our team members still felt it was important to meet up on Sunday morning to participate in four separate code sprints. One team focused on marketing automation and got new teammates set up to work on the initiative, helped the new team members set up their local box to test Pardot, Hubspot, Silverpop and Eloqua, and then worked on troubleshooting a Pardot issue. Another team focused on fixing the contrib module, smart_trim, to work on Drupal 8. While they didn't get everything finished they did get the settings form working properly for the module. The third team was working on Classy Panels. They were able to get one patch submitted and they solved the fundamental problem of IPE support, although the code is not complete yet. And finally, the fourth team discussed how they wanted to move forward with their base theme initiative. After watching a demo of using Gulp to generate a living styleguide from Sass, they decided to move forward with a custom Ruby gem to hold their Sass mixins and also create a custom iteration of the Omega 4 theme with their own custom directory structure. The decision to use a custom Ruby gem and Gulp also stems from wanting the Drupal 7 theme structure to align with how the Drupal 8 theme will work.
See, I am a relative newcomer to both Mediacurrent and working in a distributed team environment. While, prior to the retreat, I had a few weeks under my belt to "meet" everyone through chats, emails and hangouts, up until the retreat, I had met very few members of the team face-to-face. There is so much to learn from seeing someone in person, reading their body language, watching their personality come through and really starting to form a binding relationship with them. Which brings me full circle to my earlier mention of culture- it's not every day that you can walk into a weekend, meet over 30 new people you had never met before and leave feeling like you have known them for months. Mediacurrent's culture is unique in that way. Many employees formed new bonds this weekend that will only grow as we continue to work together- can't wait for the next retreat!
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Defining Our Culture | Mediacurrent Blog Post
Mediacurrent Knows Fun | Mediacurrent Blog Post