Digital Tacos are Delicious

Creating a Company Culture With Tacos

​Think it’s possible to create a company culture with tacos? Yes, TACOS. If your first thought is no, think again.

Creating a company culture is perhaps one of the more challenging responsibilities for an executive team at a growing software company.

The modern software team can ship products with employees spread out all over the globe. How can a culture be created and thrive in these types of environments? Tacos, duh.

Imagine if you and your team are at a company retreat. The entire group is clustered in a small area and talking over each other simultaneously. Given this scenario, focused team communication is impossible. At any given time, there could be dozens of conversations all happening concurrently, and for a team to stay productive, there must be a better way. Enter Slack. Slack is a software company that’s changed how teams are communicating with instant messaging.

Slack, in some ways, is a throwback to the traditional instant messaging tools we’ve used for almost two decades. It’s a tool used for chatting, providing access to your team for instant communication, but with a twist. It uses “channels” for more focused conversations.

Back to the Retreat

Using the same scenario and using Slack, the same team would be engaged in the same conversations but huddled in different areas speaking about similar topics. Each location dedicated to a particular subject. If you want to talk about something else, you need to leave and go to the appropriate area. At any time, a team member can broadcast a message to everyone, but the majority of the productive communication is happening within these groups.

Tacos?

Now, imagine if you will, someone on your team randomly stops their conversation, walks over to the taco truck that has appeared out of nowhere, grabs a taco and presents it to another teammate. During the taco handoff, the taco giver announces to the entire team that the taco receiver has done something great and would like to acknowledge them for it. Wait, what!? What demands such a wonderful gift? It could be something as simple as bringing donuts into the morning stand-up, or coming to the rescue of a teammate and helping to solve a complex problem. Ok, but why tacos?

Here’s why:

  1. Tacos are delicious.
  2. Tacos are fun.
  3. Tacos are delicious.
  4. Who doesn’t love tacos?
  5. Slack integrated “Hey Taco!” into their messaging software.

Why this is huge

In a fast-paced environment, shipping complex software products requires hyper-focused teams and high output. Unfortunately, these teams stay heads-down for months at a time and successes can go unnoticed. Success isn’t just shipping a product. Sometimes success means solving a complex problem or creating efficiency within the organization. What’s worse, management tends to focus on the final outcome and overlooks these smaller “wins” inside the trenches. Hey Taco! exchanges are great for slowing things down and acknowledging great work from a high-output team. Without some way of celebrating wins, teams can quickly get burned out.

Our company incorporated the Hey Taco! plugin into Slack just over a year ago and it has evolved into a critical part of our culture. Since Hey Taco! only allows a person to hand out five tacos per day, it makes them a bit more special when receiving one — you know that they’re limited. When a team member presents a taco to someone, most will stop to look and see who got it and why. It’s such a great way for a company to build relationships and strengthen the team.

Fridays have become crazy for tacos at Float Left. Last week I sat back and watched our entire team give tacos to each other and take the time to acknowledge one another personally. Seeing a team thrive and strengthening their bond with such a simple tool is inspirational.

Tom is the CEO of Float Left Interactive, a company focused on creating artful and innovative TV experiences for the world’s most prolific media brands.