Making culture real through imprinting radical collaboration into the whole organization

Company: Infinite Lambda
Industry: IT service
Company size: 90+ employees, 11 teams
Location: 7 countries
Project keywords: remote teams, project-based organization, culture development, collaborative skillbuilding, feedback culture

The client

Infinite Lambda provides data and cloud engineering services that enable leading companies to use the full potential of their data. They are the fastest-growing company in their field in Europe, operating in 7 countries and growing to 90+ employees in just 2 years.

Their people work remotely in project-based teams, and the organization is dedicated to building both local and global communities. Their teams and management consist of relatively young, dynamic and exceptionally talented professionals with an intention of becoming the best at what they do and continuously improving how they do it.

When I first came into contact with Infinite Lambda, it became obvious right at the beginning that they were serious about building a human-centric, collaborative culture that has the best interests of their employees at heart and enables them to deliver outstanding results to their clients. They were familiar with the latest terms and best practices in organizational development and looking for ways to integrate these ideas into their everyday operations.

Case study

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Challanges

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While remote, project-based teams were a key element in Infinite Lambda’s success and vision for the future, their constantly evolving organizational model and the company’s booming growth came with its own set of challenges.

When the leaders approached me, their main question was how to build strong, close-knit teams in a remote environment. They had their values defined and had ideas about the kind of culture they wanted to build, but weren’t sure how to put these concepts into practice.

They wanted to foster an open feedback culture, but found that while certain people were very experienced with social skills due to their roles, others with a more technical background hadn’t attended similar training programs before. In diverse teams like this, giving direct feedback or proactively voicing concerns could be challenging.
Another challenge was that they work cross-culturally on various projects, and sometimes the clients’ culture is very different from their own. By providing opportunities to develop interpersonal skills in a way where the whole team is involved, management hoped to improve the quality and efficiency of communicating with their clients as well.


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Goals of our collaboration

During the design process, I took into account the unique context Infinite Lambda’s teams came from. While they were very talented and highly skilled in their roles, most of them were new to interpersonal skills development or having conversations about culture. 

In agreement with the management team, our main goal was to build a strong foundation in communication while also moving people forward in specific areas like negotiating, having productive conflict and understanding how communication influences culture. We also wanted team members to have space for putting their new skills into practice as soon as possible.

Another goal was to develop a shared understanding in the organization about the kind of collaboration and communication culture they wanted to build, and to provide them with a common language for that. 

The project served as a way for people to get to know each other better while learning new skills together. This would increase psychological safety in the team and contribute to an improved feedback culture where they could handle conflict and difficult interpersonal situations more comfortably and effectively.


Project elements

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Pre-workshop interviews

I conducted short interviews with 5 people from each group to understand the way they worked and how they perceived culture in the organization, and to make sure the workshop is designed in a way that addresses their issues.

Collaboration workshops

5x3 hours of collaboration workshops for 6 groups of 12-15 people based on Radical Collaboration.

The workshops covered the basics of Radical Collaboration and taught team members about giving feedback and negotiating more effectively. These served as a solid base for improving internal communications, another topic we addressed during our collaboration.

Collaboration with management

During the whole process of our collaboration, I worked closely with the Talent Development Lead regarding scheduling, logistics, internal communications and preparing follow-up materials (eg. email drafts, communications materials, surveys).

Collaborative Skills Climate Survey: a tool to help management measure and get a clear picture of the state of collaboration within the organization.
Survey insight management workshop
Insight document summarizing the learnings from the 6 groups
Insight workshops to turn them into actionable steps and long-term strategy

Impact of our collaboration

By the end of the project, Infinite Lambda’s teams developed a shared understanding of the collaborative culture they wanted to build. Defining it together made everyone feel personally responsible for co-creating it.

The collaboration workshops gave them a common language and common knowledge, and people started to use them when giving feedback or sharing ideas in meetings. Basic Radical Collaboration concepts like ‘Green Zone’, ‘Red Zone’ and defensiveness got baked into their everyday lives, which improved the quality of their feedback and communication.

The management team benefitted from the project as well. The Collaborative Climate Skills Survey helped them understand the level of collaboration within the organization. Thanks to the pre-workshop interviews, I could share specific examples and stories about what the numbers in the survey meant and how certain issues showed up in their everyday operations.

This helped them look at their organization through the eyes of their people. Their insider knowledge and my external perspective made it possible for them to identify the most important development areas to focus on, and also things they wanted to do differently as leaders.

We gathered all issues and insights that came up during the interviews and the workshops into a document they can always refer back to when making decisions and designing new development programs. 

Based on this document, we could start working on specific practices and action steps that will complement the skill building workshops in creating and upholding the culture they envisioned for their company.


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