I realised I don’t write very often about my day job here, perhaps because this feels like a different space that I can use to talk about the meta-job of running a company. Last year, I wrote about running a business but I’m very interested in the dynamics of running a design studio at the moment since we’ve just finished moving for the 4th time in our London office and are part of London’s so-called Silicon Roundabout.
Once upon a time in Ivrea, I borrowed a bunch of DVDs on the Eames’ work and was totally fascinated by 901, their studio in Venice California. Through the years that studio and their work in general has actually been more and more of an influence and reference point. The big challenge in the 21st century activity of running a business is deciding what you are defined by. Are you defined by your work? If so, which part of your work will people hang on to as a mental hook? In our case it was Arduino even if we didn’t develop it, and don’t even sell it anymore. Are you defined by the people in the business? If so how do you give them a voice outside of the business? In our case, I push people to speak at conferences so that I’m not the only one people see. Are you defined by your approach? If so, how do you communicate that? Really hard but I suppose we’re slowly getting there.
One thing I’ve been really looking into lately is how to build culture internally and what that culture means. I’ve come to the conclusion that business culture comes from the types of habits that are formed. In our case, that habit is around sweets. Let me explain. Everytime someone goes somewhere for a conference or a holiday, they always come back with sweets from that place. Small thing, but that makes the office feel like a family which is important when some people are full time and others aren’t. Some people have office breakfasts, friday morning meetings, ours has weekly office emails, sweets, Bantam and Google docs.