A culture of inclusion
I remember Cisco doing a pre-M&A due diligence on a former company I worked for. One of their must-have checklist items was the “size of the CEO office”. They had validated over, I am sure, a lot of trial and error that there was a negative correlation between the size of the CEO office and the culture of the company. Our CEO at the time had a fairly large office so that might be the reason why the process did not move forward.
This checklist item makes way more sense than what you think. A big office shields you from the team and conveys the notion that you are very important without you having had to win that importance with actions and leadership. A big office removes you from where the action is in a fast moving, tech company and makes you a little bit less in control. It shields you from your customers, your R&D, your field teams. When you are managing knowledge workers, people that are full of innovative ideas and energy you want to be smack in the middle of them. You want them to be your collaborators, not your employees. You want to be privileged enough so that they include you in their impromptu brainstorms.
And I have taken this principle to the absolute extreme. I have no office. I have a desk in an open space like everyone else. There are no offices at OutSystems which sometimes is a major drag for people to concentrate working, but which does wonders in terms of team building. In team building events like the now traditional OutSystems Summer Event, I try to not be involved in the organization and act as any other collaborator. The inclusion of management within the rest of the collaborators breaks boundaries of communication and enables trusted networks to be built among the multiple country teams.
In the video below you can see a bunch of OutSystems executives and managers drinking Caipirinhas, singing, playing volleyball, and shaking their helmets to the well intentioned, sometimes slightly misguided, sound of the band. See if you can find them.