When we first moved into our new building in San Mateo, we decided it would be a good idea to bring some beverages in on a Thursday evening to coerce people into interacting. (I see how someone thought of the idea of a bar.) The day of, I had the idea that we could do an impromptu "show and tell" where anyone can share something they've been working on. There was very little heads up, so the demos were short and casual, but so amazing. Everyone felt more connected and involved.
The second Show and Tell Night was even better. We had even more employees, there were some great sales milestones to share, and it didn't drag on too long.
Then last night, it suddenly felt like we got "corporate". Maybe it's because we never turned on any music. Or maybe because we have so many brand new employees that everyone was more reserved. Either way, the presentations dragged a little, and almost 3 hours later, I felt like we somehow tricked people into a late night company meeting disguised as a "happy hour".
I can see how a company can start to lose it's laid back culture. I see how hard you have to work to make the company grow up with policies and procedures but at the same time keep the parts that are integral to your identity. It's a delicate line to walk.
Next Show and Tell Happy Hour, I'm going to take the lead on setting expectations for keeping demos to 5 minutes and the entire event under 90 minutes. We will bring in dinner so people aren't starving and the energy doesn't wane. Under those conditions, I think we have a shot at people actually WANTING to stay and interact.
I think there is a way for us to grow up without losing our identity... at least for a while.