Intertwining business and culture: The keys to Arity’s success
Earlier this year, my colleague Steph Ryter and I were invited to take the stage at DisruptHR’s Chicago event to talk about how we work together to build an effective and inspiring company culture. And earlier this month while attending Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen, I listened to other leaders talk about their companies and the cultures they are building to support innovation.
These events got me thinking about what we do here at Arity, and how we got started building our employee experience, how our success as a business and our company culture are intertwined. I thought about the leadership we need to thrive and the lessons we have learned throughout this journey as a new company.
When I started a few years ago, I joined a team that was tasked with a transformation. The well-established Allstate enterprise was trusting us to grow our innovative internal group into an entirely new startup technology company. We knew why we were on this journey – because we wanted to fix a broken transportation system – but we didn’t yet know how we were going to achieve it.
Arity’s progress in achieving our mission relies on an ability to find the how, together. Steve Jobs said that “we hire smart people so they can tell us what do to,” and I’m a big believer that we need to do the same at Arity. We’re growing a very talented team of technologists because the success of our business will hinge on engaging “smart people” to discover, build, and ship the best solutions for an ever-evolving industry.
Reaching our business goals will involve cunning tactics and best-in-class technology, but I’m not lost on the fact that empowering every contributor is necessary to achieve success. I need our people thinking creatively, collaborating, asking tough questions, and taking risks. We also need to trust each other and have a common understanding of our mission and vision. This means I want to build and support a culture that allows for us to thrive as a team. It’s good for everyone’s engagement and well-being, and it’s also good for business.
While “culture” is an intangible thing, I believe it takes a lot of real effort to build. I hired Steph Ryter as a Creative Culture Leader two years ago, and with her team and liaisons across the organization, she’s done a lot to create the environment we need for success. Our space and our dress code are welcoming and comfortable, inviting our team to be themselves at work. We encourage people to learn together, collaborate, and be curious with recurring events like Learn Days, Core Talks, and Product Reviews. We endorse finding some balance in down time with things like health initiatives, guitars and games in the office, and opportunities to volunteer together. And to keep conversations open and honest, I work diligently with my leadership team to give and receive feedback, in hopes that every person at Arity can open up to their manager about what they need to thrive at work.
Does this mean we have everything down to a science? No. Like the complexities of building exactly the right product, creating an effective culture has been an iterative process. I’m grateful for a team that is willing listen to each other and find opportunities to change how we do things. While we grow and add new people from different backgrounds, each person will contribute something new to our culture. As a leader, I want to always have a pulse on how we’re doing, and I want to remain open to shifting to where we need to be for our team to be happy and engaged.
As I reflect on our many accomplishments this year and what we still need to get done, I’m extremely proud of each person at Arity, and I’m confident that we’ll continue to realize our mission together in the supportive environment we’ve created. It’s rather humbling to be surrounded by such insightful leaders, sharp problem-solvers, and diverse perspectives and personalities. I hope everyone at Arity feels their contribution to our mission and to our unique culture. After all, empowering each other will be the key to our success in 2018 and beyond.