I remember my first meeting with my client – PIVOTAL scheduled for 1.30pm. This is a fast-growing $2.8 billion start-up backed by Microsoft, Ford and Dell with 20 global offices, built on AGILITY. Arriving 15 minutes early, I was greeted by a huge ping pong table at the entrance and a cheery lady at reception who invited me to grab a drink and make myself at home. I settled into a comfy sofa and couldn’t resist playing the hand-held water-based game on my side-table.
I thoroughly enjoyed the minute of mindful play and the satisfaction of completing the pyramid (reminds me of my childhood days!) Soon after, I was treated to a fast-moving game of ping-pong when two guys left the communal dining table for their post-food challenge.
After a fruitful two hour meeting which included a tour of the PIVOTAL office, I learnt three things about how the company makes AGILITY it’s DNA:
Firstly, ping pong is central to the soul of the company. The ping pong table is well-used at all hours of the work day. It makes sense – when you play a ping pong game, you need to be completely present. Ping pong enables fast action in a very small space. Ping Pong also motivates people to take a mental break with physical stimulation so they are continually re-charged and doing their best work during the work day.
Secondly, PIVOTAL starts work at 9.06am. A cow-bell rings, and people round into a STAND UP session and share 3 things: i) Newcomer introductions, ii) what’s interesting – which can include anything on the personal front like the latest StarWars movie iii) what’s new – updates on projects etc. This short and sharp kick-off only takes 5-10 minutes.
The 9.06am STANDUP start routine has been very effective at boosting productivity. Pivotal’s founder and chief executive Rob Mee says it is all about making the working day as efficient as possible. He once shared his thinking in a BBC interview, “I realised that programmers, if left to their own devices, may roll in at 10am,” he says. “And if they haven’t eaten adequately they will be hungry by 11am, so they’ll stop for food, which then makes the afternoon too long. It is not very efficient. “So we thought, ‘let’s provide breakfast for everyone.’ It gives them a reason to get here.” That’s why free breakfast is served from 8.30am.
Rob Mee continued ‘If it was 9am, people would tend to very approximate with coming in. We thought that if we made it 9am, people psyching themselves up for the day would think, ‘well if it is 9am I’ll be late’, so then we thought, ‘why don’t we make it 9.05am,’ but that is too precise, as programmers don’t like over-optimising, so we went with 9.06am. Then it became something fun.”
Thirdly, people start on time and end of time (by 6pm). Working late into the night is seen to be counter-productive. Instead, by ensuring that people finish the work day on time (and when the sky is still bright), it encourages people to fully maximise their hours in the office.
With these 3 simple things in place, PIVOTAL embeds agility into their DNA. It enables their people have agile minds, be super productive in a sustainable way and enjoy the journey. I love working with fast-growing agile companies with highly talented employees that want to take their performance to a whole new level.
At Influence Solutions, we help many organisations who want to increase employee engagement. Engagement is closely linked to productivity. A productive person is a happy one. People thrive on being productive and doing their best work. It’s our natural DNA. When companies focus on ensuring they help people to be successful at what they do, you get fantastic results for the company AND more motivated and engaged employees.