Four months ago, I began working for Emergenetics International. It is quite an understatement to say our company works differently from a majority of the corporate world. Last week had such an occurrence when we held our annual “Blue Meeting.”
In Emergenetics, blue is the color that represents the Analytical thinking preference. This preference includes a desire for logic and facts, directness and brevity. The annual Blue Meeting’s objective is for every department to review their annual goals, provide a review of results delivered and the plan to close out the year successfully. Simple, easy, task required by all companies – right? One would think, at least I did.
The Blue Meeting certainly included plenty of data, charts, and analysis, but that’s where the similarity with most corporations ended. To begin with, the meeting was held in the home of the company’s founder and CEO. All headquarter based employees huddled together in the expansive living room, perched on couches, folding chairs, the stairway and floor. Casual dress and conversation were the order of the day. Instead of antagonistic comments about results or criticism of plans, the conversation was packed with encouragement and positive accolades. Applause followed each presentation with appreciative comments being heard at breaks. Why? Because the culture of the company includes the “language of grace.” It encourages all of us to see the opportunities, to speak in terms of “actively pursuing our goals” instead of saying we’re overwhelmed or busy. Seems like a small difference, but it’s not. Huge deltas in outcomes occur when everyone on the team knows the entire team is there to encourage and help them succeed. The day was alive with energy typically found at summer camp.
At the end of the day, each person shared a reflection on how the meeting had impacted them. As I reflected on the day, I finally understood what makes Emergenetics so different from every other company I worked for. My epiphany was this… the employees are solely accountable to each other. They aren’t accountable to a hierarchy of politics, or a single manager who determines the quality of work based on his or her own preferences. Nor were they competing with each other. They simply were accountable to the larger team. No one wanted to fail the group. No one wanted to demonstrate a lack of commitment to the values and goals. In fact, I realized that Emergenetics is a place where our objectives always reflect our values. No one criticized or mocked another. It was a family reviewing results and planning for future success. As I shared my epiphany at the end of the day, I could see the owners rapidly nodding in agreement. It was an impactful moment for me as the thought of this new reality sunk in.
As I returned to work this week, I had a completely different resolve about the plans of my department. I now know to who I am responsible and I know they are cheering for my success, just as I am for theirs. Last week we learned we made the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the U.S. for the sixth time. Six years in a row on the list happens to less than 1% of the companies who make the list. After the Blue Meeting, I’m looking forward to our seventh and eighth.