When I remember that Kaleidoscope is only 6 months old it’s a bit of a shock. Having worked here for just over 3 months, it feels like so much longer; and for all of the right reasons.
One of the things that strikes me is how aligned and committed the team is to working differently and to place trust, kindness and honesty at the centre of what we do. Despite the nobility of this aspiration I have to confess that in quiet moments, when I reflect on some of our conversations in the office, it is so removed from previous professional environments that I worry we’ve created a little self-affirming bubble & we are in fact a lone nut, dancing on a hill.
We’ve recently had cause to recruit and, typically, the Kaleidoscope approach to recruitment is unlike anywhere else I’ve worked. Freed of the concerns of an overly bureaucratic organisational process we’re able to stay true to our beliefs – in the nature of the adverts we write (ones we suspect probably put a lot of people off but that we’ve deliberately written that way), the way we ask people to apply and the attributes we rate. We genuinely place our values above all else; whilst of course we’re interested in the technical skills candidates bring, what we really care about is the kindness & curiosity they demonstrate.
Which brings me back to the lone kook dancing … without people prepared to follow, we have no movement. And our latest batch of applicants are exciting, curious and kind. They are bright, engaging and accomplished people from a dazzling breadth of backgrounds and they want to join our dance – this is all the affirmation I need.
This blog was published on the morning of April 1st. Just saying.
If you want to be a different type of organisation, how do you show it? It’s a question we’ve been grappling with at Kaleidoscope ever since we started. It’s easy to set out a lofty ambition, couple it with some heightened rhetoric, and then never do anything about it (this is health care after all). So we’ve been looking for ways to evidence that our approach to being a different type of organisation – one based on trust, kindness, and joy – means more than just words.
Our job advert is one way, and it’s been lovely to see the positive response to that. However, we’ve come to see that our physical working environment (where we work as well as how we work) as one of, if not the, key way to be able to express how we’re different as an organisation. It’s those unwritten norms – the top brass in their corner offices, the junior minions sitting by the loo – which shape so much of corporate culture.
We want Kaleidoscope to be an organisation without hierarchy, where individuals are able – with the advice of colleagues – to be able to work autonomously, bringing their creativity to the fore.
Unsurprisingly, when we moved to our new offices last week, we didn’t give more space to the more senior, everyone has the same. Furthermore we came to realise that the basic assumption that everyone having their own desk too was one of these implicit cultural structures which drives organisations in the way of hierarchy and top-down control. That's why we’ve removed the desks. If we want everyone to be on the same level, we want to mean it, and now we are. Everyone is free to find a patch of floor in Kaleidoscope HQ and make it their own. Young buck or old hand, everyone is equal.
Of course, we don’t want out approach to good wellbeing and culture to result in poor physical health, so all staff are encouraged to spend at least 45 minutes a day striking physical poses which best represent the type of organisation we want Kaleidoscope to be.
This new form of OD-Yoga started in Japan (where it’s known as ‘Tawagoto’), and again helps to reinforce physically and spiritually the type of organisation we want to be. As a company, we’re still young, we’re still learning, but by making a series of relatively small changes, we’re confident we’re building an approach to last.