Our founding principle of “prototyping the future” is something we’ve not only applied to the work we do with partners and clients, but also how we operate internally. Often referring to ourselves as a “living prototype”, from day one, we’ve continuously experimented with new work methods and processes. For instance, having a four-day (80%) work week, which we implemented over 10 years ago! And today, as technology continues to rapidly change the world around us, impacting society, the way we work, and how we want to work, we realized we needed to ramp things up. It was time to define and be driven by a higher purpose.
Create desirable and lasting impact by empowering individuals, teams and businesses.
We believe that the organizations best placed to meet the demands brought on by technological change, and remain successful in the future, will be the ones that are guided by a clear purpose. In our values-based culture, there needs to be more reason to exist beyond making a profit. Future generations want to be part of organizations that have ambitions which tap into a universal need, place humans at the center, and take responsibility for the impact they have on society.
For IXDS, this purpose-led transformation also comes with the aim to create a workplace where people want to be, one that fosters entrepreneurial thinking and gives all team members the opportunity to shape their careers. Individuals should be able to contribute their skills based on where they feel they can provide the most impact.
We believe this can be achieved by operating as a collective – a different type of “networked organization” – in which the focus is on employees as the value generators. This will enable us to increase our innovative abilities, respond quickly to changing business dynamics, and maximize our collective influence towards our purpose: Create desirable and lasting impact by empowering individuals, teams and businesses.
Putting our purpose into practice – what’s changed?
To achieve our purpose, it was important to move towards self-management as a means of empowerment. That means no formal hierarchies, and no job titles; instead, a collective framework that makes decisions together without an overarching management team.
Skills vs job titles
By disbanding limiting job roles and formal hierarchies, we now operate under a fluid skills-based system. We determine which ingredients are needed for a project to have the desired impact, and individuals assign themselves to a multidisciplinary team based on how they can best contribute to achieving the project purpose.
For each skill, there is a skill owner – an expert. They take on their role for six months, ensuring that we have opportunities to further develop and grow our skills, and build up a community of internal and external experts around us.
Our current (ever-expanding) skills list
#Creative Technology Digital
#Creative Technology Physical
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it
To stay on track, everything we do now is measured and evaluated against six impact drivers. All are equally important, and each is represented by an elected impact owner for a six-month period. Our impact drivers are ingrained into all levels of work we do, and are assessed and evaluated on a team, project, and company-wide level.
The ventures – creating co-entrepreneurs
Over the past decade, we have worked across almost all industries for B2C and B2B markets. But along the way, we have gravitated towards certain industries and areas of focus based on the passions and expertise of team members. We currently have a platform of four key ventures led by “co-entrepreneurs” that operate as smaller companies within the wider IXDS collective. This venture pool unables us to push boundaries, solve real challenges, and create impact in areas that matter to us the most.
Our current ventures
New tools & process prototypes
Throughout our transition towards becoming a purpose-driven self-managed organization, we've built, tested and iterated on various new tools and processes to enhance the visibility of internal processes, and boost team engagement and feedback.
We've created a digital dashboard which provides transparency about, among other things, the state of our business and everyone’s assignments to better enable individual proactive contributions. It also acts as a platform to report impact evaluation, map skill supply and demand to allow individuals to better own their personal growth, and for team members to empower each other by providing time-relevant feedback and value-based gratitude.
We’ve also been integrating new features into our existing internal management tools, like Slack, to collect information about team sentiment toward the impact drivers, give gratitude, set priorities, and share what we’re individually working on.
So far, we’ve only gotten our feet wet
As a purpose-led, self-managed organization, we will be sharing more insights into our transformational journey. We hope we've triggered your interest and perhaps even inspired a discussion around this topic – feel free to get in touch if you want to learn more!