Here at Kaiser X Labs we like to shake up tradition. We are here to transform the way companies serve their customers and one way we are doing that is by investing in the individual creativity, knowledge, and skills of our team. We aim to grow a culture of learning, and that is why we created a new program called Kaiser University.
At our core, we believe in a community which commits itself to strong team building, empowering individuals, and inspiring daily creativity. These values shape who we are, how we work, and support our ability to achieve measurable success for clients.
Kaiser University was born in July of 2017 during our first company-wide retrospective. Back then, we were a team of 30 people all looking to improve and grow our young company. In front of us stood a tall black pinboard, decorated with brightly coloured sticky notes. Written on each note, in black Sharpie, was a single idea from each Kaiser about how we might improve the year ahead.
Was our common goal to build more on the skills of each individual?
Was it to make more transparent the work we all do?
The answer was both.
After completing an initial voting round, everyone was asked to place little red dot stickers on each of our favourite ideas across the board. Stepping back and taking a good look at the overall outcome was like staring at a heat-map — the hottest idea by popular vote had acquired the majority of a red overlay.
One of those red-hot sticky notes made it clear that a majority of the team wanted to see improvements made in how we share knowledge and strengthen team skills. It was exciting, to discover a new shared value for Kaiser X Labs and everyone was quick to throw their support behind it. During the following brainstorming phase of our retrospective, a solution was pitched, the structure was built, and the idea was called by its name.
More than a year later, Kaiser University has grown into a program that regularly facilitates the organisation of lectures and workshops for everyone here at Kaiser X Labs. Kaiser University strongly supports and encourages each Kaiser to share from their own experiences and challenges them to teach what they learned. Management promotes the creation of these lectures and workshops by encouraging contribution to the program and in fact, individual contribution to an event has become part of the yearly goal-setting process between team member and manager. Presently, in addition to developing content ourselves, we also actively seek experts from outside our doors to come in and share what they do and how they do it.
We started the program nearly a year ago and since then we’ve organised nine thought-provoking and inspiring events. Our lectures and workshops have so far included topics related to; design thinking, product strategy, UI prototyping, web development, emerging technology, and insurance risk analysis.
Kaiser X Labs has grown into multiple locations in Munich, Stuttgart, and just recently, Frankfurt. Since our first retrospective in July 2017 we’ve more than doubled in size and we continue to grow. We are now a team of more than 80 Kaisers: strategists, researchers, designers, and developers working together to transfer insights from qualitative and quantitative customer research into insights and recommendations for future concepts and products.
Through the Kaiser University program, each new Kaiser has the opportunity, not only to work and grow within their team but also to teach and help guide that team in its shared goals. The program has also showed us that it represents an idea greater than any single lecture or workshop because it embodies values we believe to be core to what it means to be a Kaiser.
We are a team, not competing with each other but supporting each other in our different skills.
We are explorers. We are progressive and open minded, always challenging and looking for the innovative approach. We are constantly evolving and improving.
We are proactive and care deeply about the quality of our work.
We embrace our different cultures and skills.
We have a lot of fun working together.
In our most recent company-wide retrospective, feedback for this program was overwhelmingly positive and we’re excited about the future scope of its mission. The effort to make ourselves more effective team members by learning from one another’s experience is paying off, and by investing in the creation and sharing of the valuable knowledge and talents of our team, we empower them to transform the way we work.
Written by: Tim Dobbins, Senior UX/UI Designer