S01E07 The partners

Aqua_CityOur company is growing like a happy plant. I am at the playground now. It looks like a busy bee hive. Some people are having fun trying the new fu(r)niture, others are playing. Several families are here to lunch with some of our co-players. It reminds me that my family, my wife and my three kids, adore coming here. Like all co-players, they do not want to leave this place. But we have one rule in our Play Guide: Don’t overwork overplay!

Our coaches often try to send us home, but we strongly resist and play hide-and-seek game with them every evening. We play secretly and they try to find us and stop our game. We try every childish trick we could think of to remain unnoticed (being silent as the grave, hiding under the table, switching off the lights in the room and so on) but our coaches always find us and send us home.

I see two new people – customers or partners!? I don’t know what their future role will be. I will ask later. You can always recognize novices. They look lost and confused. You can read their doubts on their faces and they have this bewilderment in their eyes. At first, they timidly approach our fu(r)nature, but before they leave the playground their eyes sparkle and they laugh wholeheartedly.

People often ask me how we work with customers and partners: “Do you offer a franchise, a partnership or a license? Are you some type of consultants?”

We work with other organizations in the way they feel most comfortable. We have partners. They both contribute to further develop our Workplace as a Playground (WæP) concept and in the meantime have their own projects. We also have customers who just ask to transform their workplace into a playground. We have a Partnership Manual in which all our ideas and rules are described. We have very strict rules with respect to fun and freedom. Our first rule is: If it ain’t fun don’t do it! The second rule is: You should grant your team real freedom!

It is not easy to become our partner or customer. All of them are carefully screened and evaluated if they are ready not only to grasp the concept of WæP, but also to eagerly commit to the project.

“And this functions?!” people often ask with a puzzled expression.

This is quite strange. Why people of today’s world think that something should be dull, boring and routine in order to function?

Well, to be honest, several months ago our coach said that sometimes he is amazed by the results we have. We are successful in every area you can think of – finance, management, innovation, people’s health, engagement and satisfaction… And having fun and a passion for what we do is the real engine stirring the ship. Many people have passions, they often tell us, but they don’t achieve this. Yes, I agree, many people are passionate about their work, but they are a lonely island in an ocean (usually the founders of a company of hundreds of employees). Can you imagine a place where everyone follows their passion or passions? Luckily you don’t have to imagine it – just come visit us 🙂

But back to our partners. So, the first to call us was Rina from Russia. She saw our website and read about the concept and fell in love with it. She was a part of a startup with three other people. They had an idea about doing a mobile application but were stuck, losing money, and were about to give up and go back to their boring jobs. And then she spoke to our coach. I remember how she was screaming on the phone when she learnt that she was approved as our partner. Actually, all of us heard her behind the thick wall. So, the coach went to Russia and started to work with the team there. He said it was quite difficult in the beginning.

“I am astonished by how difficult it is for people to give up old habits even if they make them miserable,” he said when he came back.

On the basis of his experience in Russia he decided to hire concept facilitators – people who ease the transition from workplace to playground for our new foreign colleagues.

Now the team in Russia consists of 53 people and is growing. Needless to say, they didn’t develop their application, but they had many other successful projects. I’ve heard they are working on a pill for hangover that will be quite successful in Finland too; but this might be a joke cracked by someone in our office.

Our coach wants to discuss something with me. I will first drink this fresh juice with raw biscuits because our Health Manager has advised me to eat more alkaline foods this month.

Some other time I will tell you about one of our partners who has this great idea how to help children and adults to boost their intelligence. Bye for now!

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