Culture is collective

Sanki Tennakoon, 5 min read

You can't hide.

I see your eyes rolling and hear your weighted sigh as we at Yarno wax lyrical yet again about "culture".

Yeah, yeah, you get it, culture is important, culture is great, but you've got more important fish to fry – old mate Dwayne really gets how you feel right about now:

As a new addition to the team, I've only had a taste of the culture here at Yarno and let me just say – it's far more addictive than any chocolate I've had (and my parents used to say they found me on the side of the road because my real family couldn't handle my exorbitantly high sugar intake so that's a legitimate metric to employ here).

So, what? You've been here for like five minutes, how can you have any handle on how great the culture is?

PUH-LEESE. Rose coloured glasses, babe.

But bear with me for a moment as we take a tangental turn that will eventually reveal how I can be singing the praises of Yarno's culture so early in the piece:


This is literally me anytime the mere possibility of role plays come up. If I'm not mistaken, the odds are they aren't the top of your "Fun Things I LOVE To Do With My Colleagues At Work" list.

Definitely not the top of mine. Historically, I tend to avoid them at all costs. This and any kind of improv are what my nightmares are made of – I'd literally rather host Freddy Kruger in my dreamscape than entertain a role play, especially one in front of the WHOLE TEAM.

Don't worry, I'm not going to espouse why role plays are a useful learning tool because Mark gives that a solid run here and here.

So why the heck did I feel the need to give you heart palpitations then?

Fair call.

Because I took part in my first role play experience with the team just three weeks into this new gig.

And it was... kinda great. No, really – hear me out!

I mean, I've still got a lot to learn about how to actually do a decent role play (thanks, Steph, for rolling with my awkwardness), my armpits definitely started pricking with sweat (SO glad we work remotely) and I was in my own head pressuring myself to come up with "the right answers" (perfectionism, hello my old nemesis). Despite all that, I genuinely felt safe and confident to give it a go without my brain completely freaking out and this, my friends, I credit to the culture that has been fostered proactively at Yarno.

Every encounter I've had at every stage with every Yarnoer has echoed Yarno culture and embodied Yarno's Values.

To the point where, when this role play situation popped up in my calendar, I did not melt into a puddle of nervous sweat like I typically do. I had been briefed. I had been prepared. I had interacted with everyone in the team already. I was able to trust that no matter what kind of random stupid came out of my mouth (a daily concern), I wouldn't be judged by this group of humans. Knowing this gave me permission to participate.

Remember, I've only been working here for three weeks.

At Yarno, culture is COLLECTIVE.

Everyone at Yarno takes responsibility in how Yarno's values are embodied. From how we show up to work, how we interact with each other and with our customers. It's a collective effort, a collective responsibility and a collective journey.

Phil Jackson, former professional basketball player, coach and executive gets it:
"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

And this guy would know, he coached his teams to a whopping 11 NBA championships! Don't just take his word for it, our monochromatic friends here know what's up when it comes to culture:

Without the whole team coming on board this Yarno Culture Cruise, it would have stayed docked.

No single person can make "culture" – and that goes for both positive and not-so-positive cultures. Our actions have an impact in the world and nowhere is that more relevant than in the workplace which is where most of us spend the majority of our days.

How radical would our working lives be if we all took more responsibility and held ourselves more accountable for how we show up in this space with each other?

Well, that's what everyone at Yarno does.  

These folk really walk the walk when it comes to embodying the team's values at every opportunity and striving to do better at each turn – no pressure, right?
It's actually easier than you might think, especially for newbies like me, because it's just part of the daily norm around here. From my application and interview process, to pre-boarding and then to onboarding, I've been exposed to and prepared for the gravity of Yarno's commitment to culture. It's a huge part of what made me want to work here.

I will confess, I do still wonder whether I have walked unintentionally into a Cult of Very Nice People. Keeping my eyes peeled for any weird signs...
Anyway, cycling back to the heart palpitating conversation about role plays: Yarnoers have made a commitment to giving and receiving all kinds of feedback which levels the playing field and encourages everyone to learn, grow and become comfortable in uncomfortable situations (because if you haven't cottoned on, life is pretty much a delicious pancake stack of uncomfortable situations drizzled with maple syrup to take the edge off).

These are the kinds of activities that encourage us to be vulnerable with each other, creating space for bonds to be built and trust to be tilled.

Yarno sustain this commitment to culture in a myriad of ways that have been extensively canvassed in the hallowed halls of this here blog – like here... and here... and over here... and even here (we really weren't kidding about waxing lyrical).

Without this tangible commitment to Yarno's culture by every Yarnoer I've interacted with in the past few weeks that have given me permission to feel safe, to let my guard down, and embrace this new space (verbal blurts and all) there's absolutely ZERO chance I would have sat through that role play activity with a group of relative strangers without breaking into hives.

But I haven't forgotten about old mate Dwayne and how much you love hearing us carry on about culture so I'll wrap this up with:

Culture is collective, collaborative and considered – how are you contributing to culture in your team environment?

Sanki Tennakoon

Sanki Tennakoon

Sanki is a writer, artist and mycelium enthusiast. She's clever, kind, and can turn boring dense technical content into clear, concise, and even fun, quiz content quick as a flash.

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