The culture of a company is not the words of one person; it is the experience of an entire team.
Sharing the common ground within a group of skilled but disparate people is what underpins the ways in which a corporate culture develops, and that’s not something that is easily bottled. I can’t talk about the culture of other companies because I am not in them. I’ve got an opinion about many, but I don’t live it so how can I understand it? The attitudes and behaviours of a team are the measure of the strength of their culture.
But I can talk about ours. If you’re interested. And I don’t really know why you should be, but if you are, here goes…
We’ve got three distinct features of our business that, a little like The Force, guide us and bind us. These three elements working together, and adhered to religiously, enable our culture to exist and, I hope, flourish.
The first and most important is our purpose: to make family brands stronger. This sets our path, and if anyone wants to come on the journey they have to be on this path.
But in our emotive world of family marketing this could be a bit of a dangerous path; so we need guardrails. The thing that keeps us on the straight and narrow are The Super 6. The Super 6 is a manifesto of sorts that ensures that everything we do is for the good of the audience. These six drivers of modern childhood are the lenses through which we undertake all of our work. And they are:
- Mental health and wellbeing – The need to do more and go above and beyond in everything we do to support children and families.
- Safeguarding – The commercial and predatory advantage continues. Advertisers are still circumventing regulations, and social networks continue to avoid the issue of under 13s – this has to stop. We commit to doing all we can to protect children.
- Sustainability – We need a wider awareness of the supply chain amongst families and how it impacts climate change. Real commitments must be made to result in positive change. We will not contribute to climate change through our work.
- Education – Provision is not currently equal. In any way we can, we address inequality in education and give benefit to children through our work.
- Equality – We always acknowledge that progress has been made, but we know there’s a long way to go still. We commit to diversity, to equality, and to respect.
- Play – A child’s work, play underpins everything that the future self will become. Childhood must be playful; it is a fundamental pillar of development. We commit to each and every thing we do being imbued with a playful spirit.
The Super 6 are immovable, and whilst we are all different as people, these are the pillars of childhood that we share a commitment to upholding.
But this is only half the story. We have to have a set of values which bind our behaviours and attitudes whilst we’re making family brands stronger and ensuring that childhood is protected.
The values we hold dear as colleagues, friends and co-workers inspire us to do the best work, and find the best solutions for our clients. We have five paired values…
- Open and Honest. Our work is at the heart of our clients’ business. If we don’t tell it like it is – as we see it – then we’re not doing our job. We’re experts at what we do and are committed to being very, very honest. Sometimes this is difficult and can make for strong conversations, but we are always coming from a place of how do we do the best we possibly can. And we’re just as robust with each other…Our leadership team goes at it hammer and tongs on a daily basis, and I am so proud that we do. We care about each other and the work, and by being robust but understanding of each others’ point of view we get the best possible answer we can. We share a common understanding that, as all knowledge-based organisations do, the truth is what is important.
- Learn and Grow. Everyone here is an expert in at least two things: our chosen specialism – the family market – and our craft. We have a diverse range of crafts: researching, strategising, coding, designing, illustrating, writing, filming, animating… The list goes on. At KI, we make sure the team has the opportunity to develop themselves and their skills. We do this in lots of ways: training, conferences, shadowing and coaching. But my favourite is what we call BLT. Breakfast Learning Time. Each morning, right after the company-wide stand-up, one of us delivers a five-minute presentation about something that’s relevant, important or interesting to us. It gives us all some insight into each other, allows us to learn something new, and to practice our presentation skills. We take it in turns, but someone has done one every day since lockdown began.
- Brave and Bold. We’re not afraid of doing things differently or of things that have never been done before. In fact we bloody love them! When you’re in the business of finding solutions, you have to do things that haven’t been done before. Sometimes you need to be brave – to take the leap that might not work, to be understated, focused and considered. At others you need to be bold – direct, strong and very deliberate.
- Responsible and Accountable. We take these to be two sides of the same coin, and we take them very seriously. We take responsibility for all our actions and we’re accountable to each other and to our clients. When we do something, we commit to doing it, we own it and we take things very, very seriously. We offer a service; a service that we’re incredibly lucky to be able to offer, and one that – perhaps more importantly – we enjoy.
- Grit and Glamour! We dig deep to serve, and we do like to celebrate a job well done. The grit is something of a trigger word. The past year has been hard for everyone, and our team has really learned to get on with things as we’ve needed to - there will be glamour coming in spades this year.
So... that’s us. Our culture is 165: One Purpose. Six Immovable Pillars. Five twin sets of Values. This is the framework that guides us, binds us, and gives us the foundations we need to do the things that no one else can do. This enables the differences we have in background, origin, skillset and beliefs to be celebrated and capitalised upon, and ultimately enables us to do the best possible work we can for our clients whilst having a very nice time, thank you very much.