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[NPR x phpworld] Improving Company Culture with Donut

[NPR x phpworld] Improving Company Culture with Donut

Nara Kasbergen

October 25, 2019

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  1. Improving Company Culture with Donut (the Slack bot, not the

    food. but maybe also the food.) Nara Kasbergen | NPR | Friday, October 25, 2019 * not affiliated with Donut.com
  2. Donut regularly pairs up team members who don’t know each

    other well to spread trust and collaboration across your organization. donut.com
  3. "Donut tries to pair people who don't normally interact with

    each other. It does this by looking at who is in which channels and pairing people who aren't in a lot of channels together. Donut also keeps track of who it has paired in the past so as to avoid repeats."
  4. How to set up Donut 1. Go to Donut.com and

    install the Slack app 2. Create a new channel (or use an existing channel) 3. /invite @donut 4. You are now the "Donut admin" for this channel (not the whole org) a. Choose how frequently people are paired up (default: 2 weeks) b. Choose the size of the group (default: 2 people) c. Customize the intro message
  5. A Tale of Two Donuts • #dm-elevenses ◦ First round

    started: August 27, 2018 ◦ Digital Media department only, ~100 max possible participants ▪ Average of 29 participants per round ▪ 81% all-time confirmed meetings • #project-water-cooler ◦ First round started: January 7, 2019 ◦ Company-wide, ~1000 max possible participants ▪ Average of 110 participants per round ▪ 54% all-time confirmed meetings
  6. Problem Statement By the summer of 2018, the Digital Media

    department had gone through a merger with another department, followed by a spate of hiring to backfill a lot of empty positions. The department had transformed from a team of veterans to one where half the staff have been here less than 2 years. How might we build relationships between the old and new staff, and maintain the tightknit sense of community we had before?
  7. What have they learned about each other? • "My Donut

    buddies are just like me, but in totally different ways." • "Learning that even though they may be in a position of management - they, too, struggle with communication at times with upper management." • "Life philosophies that you'd actually tattoo on your body (if you were so inclined)." • "We exchanged time management techniques with each other." • "Interesting/humorous facts about them and their partners - like how silly your own work problems may feel when your spouse works in Infant ICU."
  8. What do they get out of participating? • "Get to

    know co-workers in a friendly/casual/non-alcoholic setting." • "We have a big and growing department, and it's easy to have coworkers that you've never actually met. Donut helps." • "#dm-elevenses makes it easier for me to feel belonging at work." • "It gives you a context for the kind of personal conversations that wouldn't necessarily occur naturally. It helps you to feel more connected to those you've met with." • "It helps me feel like I can bring more of my own personality to work knowing that there are people who see me as more multi-faceted than what I do in my role here."
  9. Problem Statement With about 1,000 employees, most of whom work

    out of the DC HQ, NPR is actually a relatively large company (for a nonprofit public media organization). It is very siloed, mostly along department lines (and sometimes even within departments, if those departments are very large). How might we make it easier for folks to meet people from other departments and break down those siloes?
  10. What have they learned about each other? • "Common interests

    and when their work intersects with mine or they have information/connections that make my job easier." • "How other companies and organizations work differently, and including volunteers, families, companies, relationships." • "One buddy had a job I didn't even know existed." • "We go off on fun tangents and I get tons of great ideas, and then they slack me with additional ideas later (perhaps hours, days, weeks, or even months later)." • "I count it a privilege whenever someone shares their story with me. I have heard beautiful, hopeful, heartbreaking and heartwarming stories that have only made me love NPR and the people that work here even more."
  11. What do they get out of participating? • "I've made

    a couple of good friends and feel like I have a better sense of what people do across the organization." • "It's essentially the only way I have to meet people in other depts, and I value that." • "I'm introverted, so it's good for me, as it gets me out of my shell." • "I've told people about projects I am interested in working on or things I want to get involved in. They connected me to someone else I would have never known about that was exactly what I needed." • "In general it's just interesting to hear about the lives of different people." • "It's an amazing way to see beyond your own little slice of the NPR pie."
  12. Where has it fallen short? • "I've been ghosted by

    a match once. That was a bummer." • "A lot of people never message me to set up up the meeting. I think I've initiated 90% of the meetings." • "Mostly I've been matched with interns, instead of people who've been at NPR as long as I have. So, while it's been great to meet the new blood, and share with them my experiences, it's not exactly what I was hoping for." • "People not responding when I say hello." • "Some people will meet with me for less than 30 min even though that's what I scheduled for, and I still would like to learn more about them."
  13. A Tale of Two Donuts, Revisited Single-department: • Great for

    departments that have recently gone through a growth spurt • Great for onboarding new employees • High completion rates because people will likely end up working together eventually so you don't want to be seen as a jerk • Encourages more in-depth conversations • Doesn't really move the needle in terms of breaking down organizational siloes Company-wide: • Good for breaking down siloes, actually effecting cultural change across an org • Great for employees who are seeking new ideas/projects, opportunities for other roles • Participants with the most enthusiasm tend to be interns • Encourages superficial conversations (roles) • Little incentive to actually meet up with the other person = high rate of ghosting
  14. Open Questions • The new "meet people across groups" feature:

    worth paying for? • 3 or 4 weeks instead of the default 2 weeks: does it change engagement? • What are some use cases for groups bigger than 2 people? • Onboarding: how does it work? • What kinds of Slack orgs other than companies would Donut work well for?