The One with the Open Space in Berlin

Yesterday was our 13th company-wide Open Space and the first one not done in our headquarters in Köln but in our office in Berlin. I already spent Monday in their office with my coworker who organises the Open Space and it was quite nice. They have a few small, empty offices because they have decided to use the big space as an office where everyone sits together, so we could enjoy a day in blissful silence. I really want a team office.

Today I helped a bit with the preparations for the Open Space: put post-its and pens in the rooms designated for sessions, improvise a schedule board on one of the walls and prepare the canvasses we use to capture session outcomes. Everyone in Berlin was very nice and helpful so that everything worked smoothly despite some of the material not being delivered on time. I had only met two people from there before and it was quite nice to put a face to some names that I had only communicated in chats or support tickets with before.

I think these events are such an important part of company culture: It’s so much easier to talk to someone on the phone or via message when you have spent some time with them face-to-face and know a bit about how they talk and what seems to be important to them. You get such a different type of feedback on products you have built and they are using from coming to their office and seeing them work or even just talk about their work while they are close to their desk. And it is so valuable for building bridges. Often in companies where departments are quite independent from but dependent on one another it’s easy to play the blame game when something goes wrong. We tend to assume that we are the ones who do their best job possible but forget that this applies to (almost) everyone else. Meeting people who sometimes put rocks in your way helps see them as humans just like yourself and remember that they probably did not do it intentionally.

I did a part two of my mindfulness session, starting with a meditation guided by one of my Berlin colleagues who is actually trained as a systemic coach. It was awesome. Afterwards, we again spoke about how we can educate people about this topic and start a culture where meditation is seen as something great. This time, not only our CEO participated and shared his experiences but also our newest branch manager. Awesome. 2 people from management who want to help with this project!

One of our next steps now is to “just start” meditating, so I have booked one of our meeting rooms for every Monday after lunch. I have already announced this in our #koeln Slack channel and got several thumbs-ups so I guess I won’t be sitting there on my own. The other next step is to build a small site where we can put some more infos about mindfulness, meditation and stress management. One of the other project owners from last quarter’s Open Space had prepared a Google Site, so I think this is what I will be doing as well. Quick and easy.

Today was back to normal work. Only for half a day though and with a nice headache from lack of sleep. But I think I managed. Random thing I learned today: Remove duplicate lines in VS Code. I got a list from one of our stakeholders that I needed for updating an application they were just working with so it needed to be done quite quickly, but they accidentally put in a lot of duplicate lines. Atom actually crashed because it couldn’t handle the file which reminded me of my university days when I chose a significantly smaller data set from a movie database for a project because of Atom’s inability to handle the file. VS Code worked better and Stackoverflow helped me out as usual. Had I had VS Code a few years ago, this statistics visualisation project would have been so much better!