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Thoughts on Mediacurrent’s Evolving Culture

February 16, 2016

A few years ago I wrote about how we wanted to make culture our #1 priority at Mediacurrent. One of our goals was to become a highly desirable place to work. Culture is one of those squishy concepts that every organizational leadership discusses, but few are able to truly grasp. You will hear phrases like “culture eats strategy for breakfast” or "culture is an organization’s only true sustainable, competitive advantage."

At Mediacurrent, our culture always starts with our mission. At every company presentation, one of the first things we do is reinforce our mission statement. This has not changed in several years:

We believe talented team members can work together to provide amazing open-source based solutions for the web.

Our mission statement is our purpose, and what Simon Sinek articulated beautifully in a TED talk that is one of the most viewed in the world. Sinek said that organizations struggle to understand the notion of “why” and that the motivations behind their actions are often lost in a maze of bureaucracy. When we can correlate our work with the positive impact we are having on the world, it gives us a sense of meaning.

We’re incredibly proud of the work we do at Mediacurrent. It is such an exciting time to be involved with open-source software, Drupal, and the global digitization movement. There is an abundance of examples that highlight the indubitable benefit and difference we are making: 

  • When winter storms ripped through the East Coast of the United States a few weeks ago, it was the underlying architecture we helped develop for that millions of people relied on for updates and announcements.
  • We’ve had the pleasure of calling international non-profits like Habitat for Humanity and CARE our customers. They rely on Drupal and our Support services to keep their web properties on the cutting-edge.
  • We have a cross-section of higher-ed institutions who depend on our help for marketing campaigns and digital strategies to advance their causes like student enrollment and grants for research. 

As we have evolved at Mediacurrent, we have realized that our work is even more meaningful in a team-based structure. For us, the biggest benefit of growth is exposing our team to more professional development and learning opportunities. We have observed that two over-riding qualities have emerged that our team respects and appreciates: transparency and authenticity. Essentially, they crave visibility into what is really going on - even if the news is not good or not aligned with their own views, they are more appreciative for knowing and the openness. For instance, this could be evident in how well we communicate our company vision, our priorities and focus, how much insight each department has around what the other is working on, or staff meeting announcements.  

6 Culture-Building Goals for 2016 

At our 2016 company meeting, we shared six thoughts on our culture that were at top of mind:

  1. Let's continue to build on being a positive, supportive and collaborative team (no talented jerks please).
  2. Your professional growth and development is really important to us.
  3. We need to work on diversity (different perspectives are always welcome - it starts with recognition).
  4. Open source software principles must remain in our DNA.
  5. Be responsible - act in Mediacurrent and your team’s best interest (integrity is how you act when no one else is watching).
  6. Our culture is not a good fit for everyone (this was really hard for Paul and I to grasp).

Of course, none of this is easy. When it comes to organizational culture, there is no such thing “as one size fits all.” Is it working for us? I hope. Culture is incredibly hard to quantify or wrap metrics around (e.g. plenty of “successful” companies have high turnover or are maybe seen as negatively aggressive with sales in the marketplace).

Last year, we were recognized as one of the “Best and Brightest” places to work for and holistically improved on almost every employee survey category from prior years. These two accomplishments stand out to me because the input and feedback came directly from our team. However, perhaps the greatest testament to our culture is when someone walked up to me at our company retreat and simply said, “thank you for allowing me to work at my dream job.” I was incredibly humbled, but more than anything felt that our culture was headed in the right direction.

Mediacurrent Team
Team Mediacurrent at our 2015 Company Retreat

How about you? What are some thoughts on culture that you would like to share? I would welcome your feedback.

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