“Could you help us with a communication issue?” This question was posed to us by Babette of WerkBedrijf, a social job placement agency in The Netherlands which had just been through a large-scale reorganization. “We're sure we can.” we replied. “But first we’d like to dive into the organization to find out who you guys are and what you stand for.”
After some very pleasant introductions and brainstorm sessions together, we decided that the best way to go about this was to have a good chat with all of the 170+ employees about the values driving them in their work. We immediately ran into a practical problem though. To ensure the quality of any conversation, it is important to hold it in a space that is neutral and where everyone feels free to speak their mind. The available rooms at the office unfortunately did not meet these requirements, and to get 170 people to a different location during working hours proved to be a logistical nightmare.
If we cannot bring the employees to a suitable space, we will bring a suitable space to the employees instead. Over the course of two months, we held 1,5 hour conversations in groups of 12 people inside a tipi tent that we placed right in the centre of the office garden. These talks, which became known as the Tipi Sessions, provided the input we needed to asses and further refine the principles which still guide the development of WerkBedrijf today:
Everyone human being is of value.
We focus on what people can do, instead of what they can't
Building relationships is the corner stone of our work.