Spoon celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Behind the success lies a company culture that promotes collaboration, courage, stamina as well as passion for reality-based stories. The cultural work has been both challenging and insightful. Here, we describe five important lessons.
They needed a name. It had to be short, neutral, and sound a bit cool.
Melker went home and looked up and wrote down more than 300 words in the biggest English dictionary he could find. And then they were crossed out, one by one. Until there was only one word left: Spoon.
With offices in Sweden, Finland, Norway – and now also in England – Spoon’s founders and employees have learned a thing or two about how important it is to build a company culture. The early years were full of rock’n’roll.
”In hindsight, we called it ’skateboard management’. We were quite proud about not being so corporate… it was important for us to grow some sort of fun culture”, says Melker Forssén.
And we still have the fun culture in the walls – and soon in the bathroom… But what can we learn from Spoon’s 20-year-old history? In this article, we share five key insights.
1. Keep it real
”Keep it real” has been one of the pillars of Spoon’s philosophy during all these years. The company grew up at the crossroads between marketing and journalism, where the editorial approach proved to be a very successful recipe.
Why was that? Well, because honesty builds credibility, communicates true emotions and makes the recipient feel confident about the sender. Such communication contributes to change in the real world.
”Don’t ever be someone you’re not” Melker likes to remind us all. To know yourself, to trust your management style and to acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses, that in itself is a strong asset. To be yourself. The advice sounds simple, but it can be difficult to put into practice. Maybe that’s why it’s so damn valuable.
2. Feel the fear… and do it anyway
We all have fears, but either we run from them or we decide to act. Action is of course preferable since it leads to development. As our CEO Anders Ribba likes to point out:
”Growth and comfort do not coexist.” – Ginny Rometty
Many employees fear making mistakes. Some company cultures punish such mistakes, others learn from them. Smart organisations provide people with the right circumstances, encouraging their employees to take action, despite their fears.
Do your employees fear making mistakes, or do they dare to try something new?
3. Work with your values
Purpose-driven companies perform better in the long-run since they know the answers to some key questions: Who are we? What do we stand for? What makes us different? Why do we do what we do?
During 2016-2017 Melker led one of Spoon’s most ambitious internal value projects. All of Spoon’s offices took part in the process and the result was The Spoon Spirit Manifesto. Among some of the key values were courage, constant learning, trust, and commitment. The manifesto guides our daily work and facilitates decision-making. Like a compass, our values give us a sense of direction.
What values guide your work?
4. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
To collaborate is part of Spoon’s DNA. Through office collaborations, we manage to capture various perspectives, skills, and insights. That way, we can find different angles on the communication. We can sharpen the projects further, creating world-class cases.
Collaboration is key to creating change in the world. If you want quick results, do the work yourself. If you want to go far, travel in a group.
5. More of a family than a corporation
A family atmosphere characterises all Spoon offices. This contributes to a safer environment. Here’s what one Spoon employee had to say:
“Spoon is a cultural being of sorts. Anders, Melker and Håkan have built a Spoon family…. There’s an atmosphere that’s hard to pinpoint, that makes co-workers who’ve quit and done something else gladly come back at a later stage, that makes key employees remain loyal and work year after year.”
You actually have to care
Companies can create the right conditions, but in the end it’s the people that make the difference. It’s the people who create a safe, creative and productive workplace. With that said, we want to thank every Spoon employee, past and present, who’ve been a part of the journey. You’ve made Spoon what it is today, and what Spoon will become in the future.