Keen IO has always been deliberate about building a healthy culture. It wasn’t long ago that the company started an unofficial book (and video/article) club to discuss how different perspectives shape their code of conduct and approach to innovation.
We caught up with Keen IO Data Scientist Stephanie Stroud to find out what’s become required reading and viewing for the growing team. In Stroud’s own words she offers an array of resources:
Diffusion of Innovations: This one’s pretty dense, but it covers a bunch of interesting ideas related to network theory and innovation. We ended up reading a summary and discussing how new ideas and technologies percolate through communities. The summary prompted us to ask ourselves: how do we get the word out about Keen within our local community versus outside the Bay Area? Who on our team has dense connections locally, and who has many looser connections around the world? How do we facilitate trust through these different types of network connections? Who are the thought leaders who test the waters of new products? Who are the early adopters and who are the laggards?
Model View Culture: Model View Culture is an independent media platform that provides cultural analysis and diversity media. We’ve discussed several MVC articles as a way to reflect on and become more aware of our own culture, as well as talk about how we might improve it. Discussing these articles provides valuable opportunities for team members to share and listen to one another’s experiences in the community.
Nonviolent Communication: This is a favorite at Keen. We read the book along with an article about Nonviolent Communication in the workplace. As Dustin, an engineer on our team, said, “Non-violent Communication has been an excellent framework for assessing the internal dynamics and emotions that are behind most of our interactions. It’s helped me reach a greater level of self-awareness and surfacing emotional triggers that I didn’t realize I had.”
Quiet: We’ve got a lot of introverts on our team. And we’ve got a lot of extroverts. Quiet raised awareness to the environmental experience of those among us who lean towards the introverted side of things, and gave us an opportunity to discuss our work habits, spaces and social comfort zones. Quiet was a good reminder that we thrive in different environments.
Reinventing Organizations: At Keen, we think a lot about the way organizational structures have evolved over time. Frederic Laloux’s book/talk on “reinventing organizations” discusses the emergence of a new management paradigm and why the old way that organizations are run is fundamentally broken and not optimized for productivity or employee happiness. We’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from thinkers in this space to inform the principles that guide our own “Keen Operating System (Keen OS)”. Principles like decentralized and self-organizing governance, separation of powers, and minimum viable structure, minimum viable process. We’re still figuring things out, reach out to us if you’d like to chat more about this!
The Ten Faces of Innovation: This book highlights the different roles people serve on innovative teams. We used the book’s framework as a lens of analysis for the roles each of us play at Keen, and for identifying which roles are vacant and which are filled at Keen.
What’s next for Keen?
Here are a few books near the top of our list: