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September 14, 2012

Creating Culture, One Beer at a Time

September 14, 2012

I like Fridays. I always have. I don’t think I’m unique in this way, but that doesn’t make my observation any less relevant.

Friday is the day of the week when stress seems to melt away. The workweek is over for most of us, and by the evening it is too late to engage in anything too overly productive. This makes it the perfect day to go out with friends, spend time with family and just enjoy idleness.

Here at SmallBox we take the spirit of Friday a step further. As most of our regular readers may know, we’re all about building a culture of fun, creativity and camaraderie. It’s an ongoing process, one of constant refinement and reiteration. But one cultural norm has been a staple for several years here at SmallBox.

Two words.

BEER FRIDAY!  That’s right. We like fermented grains as much as the next small company. So, almost every Friday, one of the SmallBoxers will take the company bankcard over to the nearest purveyor of grog and bring a few back to the office. The timing isn’t crucial. Sometimes we get our brew on at 2pm, sometimes it’s 4pm. What is critical is that everyone feels welcome to participate, blow off some steam and build, rebuild or deconstruct the SmallBox identity, one glug at a time.

That’s the thing about culture. Its creation is a slowly and subtly shifting ordeal, done over conversations between members at every level. Culture is conveyed, both internally and externally, using complex systems of accepted symbols. Every culture has a language of these symbols, and someone is officially accepted into a culture when they become fluent.

I’ve been with SmallBox for a little more than two months now. While it took me more than six years to learn French, I’m finding that two months is just about long enough to learn SmallBox’s language. Our symbols are simple, perhaps none more so than Beer Fridays. We all know what it means, and unlike the slavery of ancient Egypt, this beer-drinking has nothing to do with packing us full of calories while numbing our ability to reason and rebel.

In fact, we have no reason to rebel. We’re all willing and respected participants in this culture, free to engage in the debate that heralds SmallBox’s ongoing growth.

Want to join in on the fun? We wouldn’t be too overly upset if some of our partners and friends happened by on a late Friday afternoon. Better yet, go back to your workplace and have some brews with your colleagues. Create your own opportunities to indulge, iterate and instigate.

How does your company celebrate its culture and values?


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