Culture at dojo4

by Michael Rich

Culture at dojo4

TLDR; the culture at dojo4 is remarkably similar to Swift, a Porland, Or. based digital advertizing agency praised for its culture in recent Forbes article.

Vertically tracing the screen of my Iphone with the pad of my index finger in a steady mindless rhythm, gazing at the endless scroll (i.e. skimming my twitter feed after my 7mo. old daughter finally went to sleep), I came across an article praising the company culture at a digital advertizing agency in Portland, Oregon, Swift, that disrupted my trance. I was struck by two things: (1) the culture at Swift felt fresh, organic, emergent, born out of the actual lived experience of the founders and their employees vs. a foreign adopted model that was born in a theoretical vacuum, and (2) many of the things that they identified as being vital to their culture are things that dojo4 does naturally as well. Such as...

Create a Physical Environment That Fosters Collaboration

dojo4 actually was first conceived of as a co-working space & businesses. After they pivoted to become the code & design consulting/services shop they are now, they kept the collaborative ethos alive by: having an open door policy, creating and hosting events for the community, and not having assigned seats in the office.

Establish Traditions

Apart from the recurring events dojo4 hosts for the community, they also have lunch together on Fridays, host mindful/awareness meditation and yoga. They begin and end their stand up and other meetings with a bow and clap, riffing off of the martial arts theme of the dojo and bringing in a practice from Co-owner/COO, Corey Kohn's meditation background (read her blog, and Brad Feld's blog on using the same practice).

Realize that Work Family Is Not the Only Family

The article mentions bringing dogs to work, having employee family members come and go through out the day, and that swift covers 100% of health insurance costs for every employee. dojo4 does all of these things and more. They have monthly chair messages, an open tab at Boxcar Coffee Roasters, a great maternity and Paternity policy, among other benefits.

The article mentioned four other practices, (1) define your values and put them center stage, (2) no nonsense hiring, (3) incorporate leadership training, and feedback, and (4) allow yourself to be picky when taking on new work. All of these happen in less defined ways at dojo4 as well, and together with my businesses partner Sam Elmore (shh...announcement pending) we are currently collaborating with the team to help give them more form.

Companies like these are so inspiring to me. They are playing the long game; realizing what is good for the whole human being, is good for business, and good for the world.