On this page you’ll learn about:
- How We Do Business
- How We Make the Learning Stick
- How we Bring Our Whole Selves to Work
- How we Communicate
- Our Psychology
- Our Technology
- Our Meetings
- How we Stay Productive and Well
This document is designed to capture what we hold dear about the Think Productive (TP) culture. Since we started in 2009, we have adopted a collaborative and creative culture, true to the values, beliefs and habits that we teach in our workshops.
Who is this for?
The primary audience for this document is anyone working with TP (whether as colleagues or clients), but we share this publicly because we are proud of our culture and want to act as a role model for productive working practices. Well, we are the home of the Productivity Ninja, after all.
The purpose of this document is to give you a flavor of the culture of TP. It’s used around the world. It’s deliberately not comprehensive (how could it be?!), but it’s designed to give enough of a flavor for how we do things, that you can fill in the blanks. It’s the compass, not the map.
Our beliefs when it comes to teams, collaboration, and productivity:
- The job of TP as an organization is to help our people do their best work and manage their attention well.
- We don’t aim to eliminate all meetings, nor do we aim for everything to be discussed in a meeting, but we aim to strike a healthy balance between listening and people-based collaboration, and individual ‘heads-down proactive attention’ (see “How to be a Productivity Ninja” for definition)
Our values that are vital to how we ‘do’ culture:
- We put people first, work second. Always.
- We walk our talk (most of what you see below shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve read ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’ or ‘How to Fix Meetings’)
- Trust and Kindness are our Rocketfuel (we believe that by leading with kindness, we build trust and psychological safety for those who work with us. We believe this is essential to a sense of belonging, high levels of creativity, giving people the confidence to execute their work and express themselves as individuals).
- Human, Not Superhero (we believe that humans are weird, work is messy, we’ll screw up sometimes… and that all of that is OK. What’s more interesting is how we show up, own up and clear up). Also, we fully support talking about our mental health at work. It’s ok to not be ok, and it should always be safe to say so.
HOW WE DO BUSINESS
- Our first focus is always on listening to and serving the client. We work out the details (who’s delivering, what they’re delivering) afterwards.
- Our moral code in how we do business is respect, trust, openness, quality and professionalism. Any behaviour that goes against this will be challenged.
- We accept that as with all business relationships, there may be swings and roundabouts. What goes around comes around. This includes money, but also the commitment to a spirit of collaboration.
- We put relationships first, contracts second – if the relationship is good, we should never really need to look at the contract.
HOW WE MAKE THE LEARNING STICK
We understand that everyone learns differently, and that there is no such thing as a “standard TP learner”. Therefore:
- We don’t assume we know our learners’ situations or context. We just aim to understand humanness in all of its forms and we approach every interaction with natural curiosity and an open mind.
- We adopt inclusive and accessible design and delivery practices, such as ensuring the imagery in our materials represents the world we live in and offering all learners a blended learning approach to maximize behavioral change.
- We prioritise the psychological safety of our delegates and clients, holding neutral, non-judgmental positions and language so they feel it’s a safe place to learn and question.
HOW WE BRING OUR WHOLE SELVES TO WORK
- We aim to be good colleagues & managers, i.e. sharing what’s going on for us personally can be very useful context for everyone and great for building trust, community and understanding. Be free but mindful when sharing and respect the fact that not everyone will want to or be able to respond each time, and not everyone will feel comfortable sharing.
- We respect diverse opinions, we value listening and modeling healthy, respectful disagreement directly with the person. We agree to disagree when necessary.
- We’re all Human, not Superhero. (e.g. when we’ve been off-tone or used judgmental language, we’re ok for this to be respectfully called out and there is room and grace for recognizing or readjusting).
HOW WE COMMUNICATE
- We choose the best tool for the job using POPP (i.e. consider Purpose, Outcome, Priority & People);
- We check our tone & aim for CALM (Clarity, Affirm/Action, Lead & Maximize);
- We speak human, with a dose of cheeky curiosity. We love the use of humour, where appropriate, to make work more fun and to help us to connect!
- We’re thoughtfully inclusive, and respectfully exclusive (e.g. We may forward an email to someone for their peace of mind and to eliminate doubt. We may choose to NOT CC someone out of respect for that person’s time and focus).
- After a difficult situation, we take a moment to pause before reacting, then thoughtfully respond instead.
- We keep our value “Trust and Kindness are our Rocketfuel” front and center. (e.g. Be mindful of how the person reading your message will feel. If it could publicly undermine, upset or erode trust in that person, a team or a process, a private conversation is more appropriate than a public post or email.)
- When we talk about each other – it’s always ‘we’, never ‘them and us’.
- We communicate change thoughtfully, unhurriedly and in proportion to the size of the change, with clarity on how much consultation and adaptation is possible. If the decision to change something has already been made, we always provide the context and the opportunity for questions and concerns to be heard and addressed.
- We always give team members the opportunity to consult on decisions that affect how they do what they do and how they are remunerated.
- When we feel frustrated, we start by giving each other the benefit of the doubt and by staying open-minded and curious. If in doubt, always ask the question.
- We embrace and welcome feedback. We see it as a gift, an opportunity or information to grow and improve. The same goes for mistakes (which we openly admit to and happily fix!)
- When we brainstorm, we collect ALL the ideas (even the surprising and challenging ones), then debate/critique them… because we know that creativity is fueled by “failure”.
- Phone Call for sensitive/nuanced/urgent conversations.
- Email for Clients & Important (or Confidential) Internal Announcements/Decisions or record trails. Our response times:
- Internal emails: If really urgent, we call. Otherwise, we trust each other to respond when we can.
- Client emails: Client Services team respond on the same day and have a permanent “Out of Office” set to manage expectations, with a phone number. Consultants and rest of team respond as soon as possible (this might be the following day if delivering a workshop).
- Enquiry emails: We respond within 60mins.
- Slack for community, asynchronous collaboration & knowledge sharing (and to keep our email inboxes clear for Clients as much as possible). Always @tag people if you need them to see your message or there is an action for them. And if there’s an action for you, always acknowledge you’ve seen and captured it, because we know that eliminating doubt gives people peace of mind (and less stress!). Slack DMs are good for 121 convos, to keep our inboxes clear. Our response times:
- TPHQ: Check in at least once a day & set a clear status.
- Consultants: No expectations around engagement or check in. Status is helpful.
- Licensees: Check in once a week recommended to avoid overload.
- Loom/Slack Video/Audio recordings for explaining opinions asynchronously in a more human and engaging way.
- WhatsApp for social, checking-in or when you need a quick answer (only if ok with the recipient).
- Meetings (or zoom) for group discussions, building connection, inspiration and synchronous collaboration.
- No agenda or purpose, no meeting.
- Include any prep needed and who will Chair (try to rotate).
- Location: Have meetings in unusual places where possible, particularly for brainstorming sessions (e.g. the beach, a park).
- Be mindful when scheduling across time zones that the same people are not always having to meet super late/early.
- Allow some time for all important fun and/or connection at start/end (see our Icebreaker toolbox for ideas!).
- To make the best use of everyone’s time, certain meetings might need a minimum number of attendees to go ahead.
- If you need to reschedule or drop out of a meeting, respectfully give as much notice as poss (e.g. 7 days) with your reason and be prepared to send your thoughts/prep work anyway.
- Be meeting-ready 5 mins before start time. Collect your thoughts or take some restorative deep breaths. 😊
- Be mindful of who hasn’t yet had a chance to contribute and consider offering them a kind way to do this (e.g. chat).
- Distractions: Turn everything else off (unless you’re the host).
- BEFORE YOU ACCEPT AN INVITE, ALWAYS ASK YOURSELF: Am I really needed here? Is this meeting really needed? How can it be a better use of everyone’s time?
- AFTER THE MEETING: We trust each other to capture our own actions during meetings but are always happy to share them if it helps eliminate doubt.
HOW WE STAY PRODUCTIVE AND WELL
- We define Productivity as “Making Space for What Matters”.
- We use the 9 Characteristics of The Productivity Ninja to give us the confidence to know that whatever we’re doing in each moment, is the most appropriate thing we can be doing.
- We work a Four Day Week at HQ (and have done since 2011) because we believe it’s the future, and a more human approach to work.
- We run ‘No Meetings Wednesdays‘ and ‘No Meetings August‘ at our HQ to help us make space for focussed deep work on a regular basis.
- Our default status is offline (whilst managing expectations and impact on colleagues and clients).
- Out of hours is out of bounds (99.9% of the time. For the 0.1%, call or WhatsApp). This includes holidays/sick leave and other types of leave of course!
- We listen to our bodies and take breaks when we need to rest, recover and restore.
- Above all, we choose not to glorify “Busy”.
This is a living document that will evolve and be added to over time.
We welcome any and all feedback you have, so please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org