Blurring Boundaries by Building Together


Holden Steinberg

on •

Feb 21, 2023

Blurring Boundaries by Building Together

Following up on my courageous values post, I wanted to address one of the most crucial Artium ideals; Build Together.  

In that post I talked about how fundamentally important it is to create trust within teams.  And how one of the best ways to do so is through demonstrating humility and courageous vulnerability.  If trust is the foundation of any team’s hierarchy of needs, our Build Together value is the next level up – creating unity, drive, and delight.

Build Together is about showing up as a team; a single, aligned group of humans focused on achieving something outside of ourselves. It's about creating a culture where teams are able to fully rely on one another, where each team member feels empowered to speak their mind, and where, even when disagreements arise (which hopefully they do!), the team is willing and able to commit to a direction and continue to drive forward. 

It's also about building that spirit of collaborative fun that gives rise to creativity and innovation. The inside jokes, the unique team traditions, and the funky little ceremonies that make teams fun. 

And of course a prerequisite all of that is psychological safety, which Google famously determined to be the most important trait in any team's performance. Check out this NYT article on Project Aristotle if you are interested in learning more.

Team dynamic is so powerful because when you're able to do it well, barriers between people and groups melt away, and the team can focus on doing and enjoying great work.

For those of us in tech labs (our software consulting business), that is often the barrier between different employers: working at Artium vs. working for a client. It's the most human thing in the world to draw arbitrary boundaries between groups. One of those unfortunate evolved characteristics we need to hack around. 

Therefore, when we work together with our client team members, we should think of them as honorary Artisans. We are truly a unified team pulling toward the same vision.

Another potential barrier is the one between different crafts. We often observe siloed disciplines when we engage our clients. Product orgs that don't talk to Engineering orgs that don't talk to Design orgs. But as we all know, tight collaboration across the crafts yields the best holistic software outcome. 

Our experience working across crafts -- going so far as to pair between them -- is one of our not-so-secret weapons.

Build Together is a huge part of what we're bringing to our clients and to the world: a specific culture and style of work that involves empowered teams working closely across disciplines (and any other arbitrary boundaries that might exist) to achieve real, high-level outcomes. 

In fact, many of our clients specifically ask us to have this impact -- to bring teams together and help them achieve their own outcomes as an empowered group. I think even the clients that are unable to verbalize it instinctively want this for their organization.

It's not always easy, of course. We often encounter situations and individuals that seem to be working against the ideas of trust, fun, and psychological safety. But that's where the consulting/leadership comes into play. Because when you can mix that in with excellence in your craft... you basically become unstoppable.

This post was initially created for my internal company-wide Sunday emails. By creating an open Artium culture, I hope that I can blur the line between our clients and Artisans and create better engagement outcomes which ultimately will enable more companies to achieve their vision of the future.

- Ross Hale, CEO of Artium