Written By Athena & Alex, February 24, 2016
To our generational peers and our intergenerational allies,
We’re Median. We believe that the world of work is at a pivotal moment, and we’re starting a movement to create a new model of workplace culture.
Here’s what we know.
Millennials (hi ✋) are now the largest demographic in the workforce. That’s 53 million people. Of those 53 million, 62% are now in managerial positions. That means a millennial population larger than Texas is now in charge. This group, in tandem with the internet, is not only poised to redefine the world of business, but has already begun actively changing the landscape of how we work.
We throw status quo out the window when it comes to new products and services, but when approaching culture we’re still referencing an old textbook. The startups that we found and join are turning systems from healthcare (see Oscar) to hospitality (see AirBnB) on their heads. But when many growing organizations begin to approach their internal system (culture), they struggle to bring that same level of disruption.
The limits of an un-intentionally designed culture become evident as startups scale. The engaged and familial feeling that exists effortlessly in a 5 person startup begins to break once it’s a 35+ sized organization, and the fissures spread from there. Suddenly, at scale, the ethos shifts; communication breaks down, people stop knowing who owns what work, and it becomes unclear that everyone is working towards the same purpose.
In response, many leaders go on a mad-dash, attempting to create organizational structures and rules that create order and “bring back” the “original culture”. Unfortunately, the textbook for operating a human-centered organization hasn’t been written yet. Leaders are taking their cue from a mindset of management that wasn’t built for the 21st century. The structures they employ are built for increasing efficiency and control, not furthering purpose and autonomy. The rules they implement are built for ensuring conformity, not enabling potential. The startup that you once knew begins to feel more like the corporate job you left.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We’re bringing design out of the product closet. Your culture should be as intentionally designed as the products you build. Design has become a ubiquitous tool in the world of product innovation and customer experience but so far it’s been applied mostly to the external market, not internal processes. We’re changing that by applying design to the process of developing culture. We believe this opens up a whole new world of thoughtful innovation in how people can work together.
We’re refreshing the textbook. Culture isn’t something you can copy > paste. But you can learn how to design the right levers to shape a culture. We’re using our powers of design and research in combination with our experience in change management to deliver you actionable tools, interesting content, and a whole lot of cheerleading that enables everyone to build amazing company cultures. It’s going to be really exciting.
Then let’s bring this to all the people. We truly believe that changing culture in the workplace has the power to create positive change in other parts of society. Our culture lab is our sandbox. We invite you to come learn, play, and explore with us. Together we can build a world of work we believe in.
😜 x ✊,
Athena Diaconis + Alexander Todaro
Founders @ Median
Want to find out more? Check out more articles that guide our thinking:
+ What Millennial Employees Really Want - Fast Company
+ Millennial Managers Struggle for Work/Life Balance - CNBC
+ This Year Millennials will Overtake Boomers - PEW Research
+ Reshaping the Workplace - PWC
+ Want to Modernize your Company Culture - EY
+ What New Team Leaders Should Do First - HBR
+ World's Top Purpose-Driven Organizations - Forbes
+ 80% of Your Culture is Your Founder - First Round
+ The Secret to Feeling Energized at Work - 99u
+ Don't Fuck up the Culture - Brian Chesky