We love stories about ideas. Where they came from, what inspired them, what they did for the organization and how they make people feel. Here, we decided to share the story of the very ideas that get posted on our SoapBox and support us in reaching our business objectives.
This post is the first of a four-part series focusing on the value of small ideas that make a big impact in the workplace.
Many people wonder if we use SoapBox internally, and the answer is yes. We leverage our internal SoapBox, much like our clients do, to tap into the insights of our employees and to offer them a voice in how to achieve our company goals. When people are involved in decisions that affect their jobs, we notice a much higher level of commitment. And it’s something we’ve been recognized for by Great Place to Work.
Not every idea shared on our SoapBox is ground-breaking, and it doesn’t need to be in order to make a significant impact on our company. In fact, we often argue that incremental innovation can be even more impactful than disruptive innovation. Our first featured idea may not seem as insightful at first. But we like it because it demonstrates how sometimes the best ideas aren’t new ideas, or insanely creative ones. They’re the ideas that finally push you to take action. So many “easy to implement ideas” never get implemented because they get deprioritized in the day to day shuffle. The moral of this particular story is that any idea that creates action with a good positive outcome is a great idea.
The story of the SoapBox Social
On October 16, 2014, our Director of Sales, Brandon Gilchrist, shared an idea on our SoapBox that became one of the most defining elements of our culture: SoapBox Socials.
I sat down with Brandon to discuss the story of this idea and the impact it had on our company.
Elana: How did you come up with the idea for the SoapBox Socials? What was the inspiration?
Brandon: Back in our old office, we would spend a ton of time together in really tight quarters, but never had a real opportunity to get to know each other outside of work. We were all just super focused on driving the business, and building meaningful relationships with one another fell to the wayside. I wanted to change that. I thought that if we designated a time each month where we would make relationship building a priority (outside the office), it would help us establish camaraderie that would support our work inside the office. And be a great vehicle to blow off some steam.
Elana: What happened when you posted the idea?
Brandon: It was one of the first ideas posted on our SoapBox that wasn’t product-focused and got everyone, including the leadership team, really excited.
It was an idea that we all talked about a lot, but never executed on. When I posted the idea to our SoapBox, it received amazing feedback and also sparked a positive discussion outside of the platform, which I wasn’t expecting but really pleased to see.
Posting the idea on SoapBox and seeing the votes accumulate forced the leadership team to evaluate it and provide an Official Response to everyone in the community. I was really happy to see the leadership team seeing value in the idea.
Elana: Talk to me about the Official Response you received from the leadership team.
Brandon: As soon as the idea hit the vote threshold (vote threshold is a minimum number of positive votes from the community to indicate that this is an idea that’s of value to not just the ideator, but to a significant portion of the community), Jessica Weisz, our Chief Client Officer, sent around a calendar invite to secure time in everyone’s calendar, once a month, for what was later coined the “SoapBox Social”, and posted an Official Response on our SoapBox. It happened very quickly. Even though the idea may have seemed trivial at the time, they still valued the feedback and responded to it.
Experiencing the feedback loop move so quickly encouraged me to continue engaging with the platform and helped me build trust with the leadership team.
Elana: How long did it take for the idea of socials to become established into the SoapBox culture?
Brandon: It happened almost overnight. What makes the SoapBox Socials so special is that they’re entirely employee run and fully supported by the leadership team. We’ve since designated rotating teams that plan and execute the socials every month. The teams are made up with members of different departments you wouldn’t otherwise get to work with a lot. We started off with a budget of $50 and now have about $150 to work with. The themes for the socials are open-ended and vary by group. For example, we’ve hosted a paint night, scavenger hunt, trivia nights, dinner parties, gaming nights, karaoke etc.
Elana: How important are socials to the SoapBox culture?
Brandon: I think they’re very important. It’s been over two years and we’re still doing them. We constantly iterate on them and as a result, the concepts and themes keep getting better and more creative. Our socials help us build meaningful relationships with our co-workers, which I believe, contribute to the success of our business.