Your startup needs a polaroid wall

Published on 05-18-2016

The Polaroid wall at Crealytics in Berlin The Polaroid wall at Crealytics in Berlin

Note: Be sure to first read Part 1: How Silos are hurting your startup. Have you read it already? We will both get more out of this post if you read the other one first. You will get the backstory. I can assume you know it. Win-Win.

Hi again. I hope I have made the case for why silos are hurting your startup. Here is a little trick to help break down silos.

Here is a recap of my postulation from earlier:

The best thing we can do against silos is let camaraderie and friendship develop between employees of different departments.

How do friendships develop? Initially, by chit-chatting to each other. By taking an interest. By bonding through the art of conversation. More than one. Repeated display of interest between amicable individuals is the surest sign to a budding friendship.

There is a very important part to a conversation of people getting to know each other. Their names.

Dale Carnegie said it well:

A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

This is true. And so is the opposite. There is nothing more hindering for friendship than if one person does not know the other persons name.

Some people are very good at this. Were they born with this ability? Did they learn it somehow? I do not know.

Let us go a year back in time. I had a bit of a problem with names then. Introduce me to someone. Then wait a day. I can now tell you all sorts of interesting facts and wonderful sides to that person. Their name, however… Wait, it is right on my tongue…

I noticed this being a hindrance several times. There were people I was genuinely interested in talking to. But I could not. They had told me their name. I had told them mine. They likely could remember mine. If I struck up a conversation, it would get awkward. So I did not.

Then I remembered something from when I was working in the Rainmaking Copenhagen office:

The polaroid wall.

When a new employee joins, a polaroid is taken of them. They write their name on it. Possibly also a little doodle. It is fun. It is old-school. It looks great in the office. It helps with a feeling of “one big family”.

And when someone forgets the name of another employee, all they have to do is take a cup of coffee. Study the wall. Learn the name. Then go make new friends.

This is why your startup needs a polaroid wall.

Thank you for your time.

PS: I highly recommend the Fujifilm Instax Mini instant camera. I have one myself, and it is just the right size for a company wall.

PPS: A common objection I hear at this point is this: “But we already have names and pictures on our website”. Yes. You do. And what does it take to update that website? Let us compare:

The website way

Polariod way

I know, I know, maybe all of the above hassle does not apply to your company. Then you are one of the lucky few. Trust me on this. But even in companies where it is a lot easier, a polaroid wall is still superior. It is just more fun. And you do not need to worry about it being public and “part of your branding”. You should not ask your employees to help brand your company with their “internal” hi-everyone pictures. They will not show their full potential. And especially your engineers will resent it.

Get a polaroid wall. Your silos will be a little less powerful for it.

· startup, silos, culture, HR