At OpenTent, we build things constantly. Solutions, Systems, Processes, Teams. Everything about OpenTent includes an aspect of creation. We take complex problems our clients face about collecting and organizing their data, and we build them a solution that solves their problem(s).
We are made up of a time of highly talented, smart, and focused engineers and project managers doing the work, and they all have something in common that sets them apart and allows them to flourish.
We are a team of Salesforce experts, solution engineers, scrum masters, and overall data nerds. We are also a HIGHLY creative company because we believe that creativity is crucial in project work.
And why is that? What about creativity makes such an impact on solving problems and creating solutions? And, how do we foster and encourage a creative culture?
First of all, creativity is innate. We actually all have the ability to harness thinking and acting creatively. Some of us have more skill and practice in the actual art of creating. But, the good news is, if we practice using it, are given opportunities or encouraged to use it, we can find ourselves incorporating it seamlessly in our lives and our work.
Creativity is incredibly impactful on problem solving because it allows us to find new solutions that might not have been discovered if we simply stayed in a more traditional or conservative mindset. Doing the same things the way they've always been done will bring you the results you have always had. If you want new results, you have to change how you are doing the thing.
And that's how our teammates operate. There are some standard elements to the solutions they create, but usually, it is highly customized and boutique for each unique client and their needs. And that comes from their ability to think creatively, outside of traditional solutioning efforts, and into the realm of sophisticated elegance.
The "how" and "why" is a bit unique too. Most of it ties into the last blog post on OpenTent's work culture (read about it here!) and the environment leadership works to create for teammates; one of high communication, intentional trust building, and the modeling of vulnerability in meetings and conversations. There is a strong sense of inclusion from the very beginning of the onboarding process in which teammates are encouraged to share their ideas, insights, and feedback about how project or internal work is going.
It doesn't stop with creative solutions though. Teammates are literally creating art as part of how they communicate about our work.
One of our portfolio teams decided to do an exercise where they each drew how they thought the previous two weeks (one iteration) went as a part of their team retrospective. Here's the result. How cool is this?
It's ok if you're thinking "this isn't art" -- it probably won't be hanging in the MOMA any time soon. But it's a fun example of an activity that enabled our team to relate differently to each other in group work to bring out new and innovative ideas and strategies. It also humanizes us and allows us to connect on new levels.
And according to one of our new solution engineers, Christopher Smith, who often brings an artistic angle to his technical work, creating a visual representation of the project flow can also increase his ability to communicate complicated technical processes to non-technical peers. And in the case of our team makeup (engineers and project managers) and client interactions at OpenTent, this is a very important piece of the workflow process.
We've invested heavily in encouraging our team to brainstorm in Miro (a virtual whiteboard), diagram out elaborate process maps to see the work visually, and have an entire library of custom art and designs that our teams can use internally and externally. You've probably seen some of them on our website.
We are big fans of creativity and all it can bring to our work and lives. Fostering a creative work environment is high on the list of objectives for company operations at OpenTent and we love sharing our creative expressions with each other in our daily interactions!
To learn more about OpenTent's way of Working Out Loud, get in touch here!
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What we learned by hosting a workshop on a topic we already knew
We recently participated in a Fundamentals of Scrum workshop, and even though OpenTent already uses the Scrum framework for project management, it was incredibly insightful and illuminating. Not only as a reminder of the basic fundamentals or a time to re-assess which aspects of the framework need adjusted in our current working model, but because our staff, ALL of us, had to quickly assemble into self-organized teams. In particular, teams that had not previously worked together on OpenTent projects.