Hakuna Matata and The Circle of Work
My Experiences with #iDea. Company at Siemens
So… hello, there. This is my first ever blog, and I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt over the past couple of months, in the hope that it might help you if you’re looking for some inspiration, too.
Before we begin: here’s a thought for the moment. If you feel stuck right now, and can sense that you’re only reading this with a reduced attention span, with your mind on three or more other simultaneously pending tasks, take a deep breath, go for a walk, get some air, and grab something with chocolate in it. It always works for me (well… almost always).
So, there was this one day at work, earlier this year. Unlike most of my other days, it was particularly frustrating. One of those days when everything seems to go wrong in a cascading series of unfortunate events, in spectacular chaos theory fashion. Don’t get me wrong. I like most of the challenges of my role, but there are some aspects of it which can get to me sometimes, and this was one of those days.
I love writing. I’ve loved it my whole life, for as far back as I can remember. I’ve always felt that people listen to me more when I write, as opposed to when I speak. When I write, I feel heard. As opposed to when I speak, and get cut off mid-sentence in a discussion with three other people simultaneously trying to put forth their arguments.
The trouble is, every time I try to communicate by writing, it’s often in an email. And from my experience, I’m willing to bet a kidney that more than 60% of my organization absolutely hates emails. I don’t blame them. So, I try writing on our team wiki pages when I can, but there’s not much time available for everyone to read those either, beyond skimming through.
Which brings us back to my bad day. The usual discussions on trying to gently influence mindset change in an agile environment didn’t go quite well, to say the least.
After getting myself a large tub of hot chocolate (yeah, you can go right ahead and judge me, and yeah, I’m well aware that I used the word “tub”, as opposed to “cup”), I sat back down at my desk again, and sighed. I’d tried multiple ways over a long period of time to work through an obstacle, but each painful and effort laden attempt was as fruitless as the previous one. And I was out of ideas, absolutely deflated, and just plain tired.
Hakuna Matata… what a wonderful phrase– Timon and Pumbaa
A few days before, a colleague had mentioned a Siemens-internal tool called Instagauge , which could help out with Siemens-internal surveys. And, as I scrolled listlessly through Yammer , I happened to see a random post about it, which jogged my memory. Intrigued, I decided to try it out for fun, and instantly loved it – because using it meant no more having to read through 150+ sheets of hand written feedback on paper from 75+ onsite and remote workshop participants, and then digitizing all the data in excel sheets to figure out and share trends.
As a Coach and Scrum Master, I love giving feedback as much as receiving it, so I wrote in a few ideas and questions from an end user’s perspective after having used Instagauge. And then, I noticed the #iDea. Company  logo attached to the tool.
Just a couple of clicks later, I was ready to attend my first #iDea community broadcast. And in the following week, after a few conversations with my fellow #iDea colleagues, I was all set to start writing introductory pieces and user guides for some of the tools that were conceptualized and created within iDea. Company. And boy oh boy, has that been fun. Blank white sheet of paper, a single headline, and keyboard at my fingertips to help me try and make sense of the chaos that is my brain… hello my friend, we meet again!
Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about Be My Guest , the Virtual Event Platform , Siemens.FM , and learnt about and used many more incredible tools and services. The fact that there were so many people looking for a space to do what they love, volunteering their time to bring their ideas and dormant skills to life, and find a way to share their work with Siemens employees around the world is really energizing. I now know about the regular Bring your Doggie to Work initiative that’s been happening at Poole in England, the creative campaign to set up a brand new Vending Machine at Kalwa in India, and even external projects, like Siemens Earth Day 2020 , timed to coincide with the 50th annual edition of the global Earth Day 2020 initiative next year.
In just a few weeks, I could feel this energy showing up in my regular role. Things felt different, and in a good way. And oh – fun fact – after sharing my situation and talking about my new-found inspiration with another colleague, I found out that the obstacle that I’d referenced earlier wasn’t my problem to solve at all to begin with, and that I’d been running around in circles for the better part of a year for no good reason. Hard lesson learnt – but a very valuable one, nonetheless. Somehow, working for #iDea. Company and exercising a long unused part of my brain helped bring about quite a perspective shift, made me question why I was doing what I was doing, and helped rekindle my motivation once again. To add to this, I’m also able to observe the seamless flow in which we work first hand – a flexible blend of collaboration and independence that you get to choose, the ability to set yourself three month targets, with staggered deadlines that you decide.
Which, in retrospect, helped me answer the question I never thought to ask myself in the first place – how do I find a way to do what I truly love within my company, and bring back a healthy dose of genuine inspiration (the kind that gets you to start taking steps towards your goal right away, instead of putting it on your to-do-someday pile of stuff), new ideas and a fresh perspective back into my daily routine and work?
Well… ta-daah! I just wrote down my answer for you. And after having been a part of the #iDea club for over half a year now, I can tell you that my inspiration is here to stay. Honestly speaking, I’m quite glad that I had that bad day at work. As a consequence, all I did was take a deep breath, pause, and accidentally stumble onto one random Yammer thread that happened to catch my eye, but boy, did it all somehow work out and turn into something that I love being a part of.
P.S.: Like this article? Well then, stay tuned for my next one on work-work balance, in which I postulate and hypothesize my new-found incremental theory on how to find zen aspects in your role, or just create them if they don’t exist. I’m working on it… and will get right to it after this one last cup of hot chocolate.
1. Instagauge: a company-approved, intuitive, web-based survey tool (no more gentle reprimands or raised eyebrows from the boss man for asking if we can use Survey Monkey or Google Forms to pick a suitable day of the week for team bowling and beer garden evening… phewie!)
2. Yammer: Siemens’s internal social network.
3. #iDea. Company: Siemens’s very own global start-up community. 50+ colleagues from 9 countries around the world, 20+ innovative ideas, tools and services created and rolled out globally just in the past two years – and counting!
4. Be My Guest: Employee connect initiative, where colleagues can host their out of town-er counterparts travelling for business purposes at their own places, adding to a growing trend that aims to serve as a great (and free) alternative to staying at hotels.
5. Virtual Event Platform: an online event hosting platform. VEP connects to several other real-time collaborative tools, as well as live chat and video streaming services within the company. At our recent event, more than 6 thousand colleagues tuned in from around the world for virtual conferences, debates, workshops and the like… all from the comfort of their own chair, without having to travel.
6. Siemens.FM: web tool for hosting and subscribing to podcasts from any device, with several talks uploaded weekly on various trending topics.
7. Siemens Earth Day 2020: a three-day event happening in April next year to raise awareness of local environmental and earth friendly initiatives in different cities, and to support clean up, recycling and reforestation activities in and around Siemens campuses and locales worldwide.