I love our firm culture and dread it

Posted on

21 Dec

2021

Dittmar & Indrenius > Insight > I love our firm culture and dread it
“What has made you stay with Dittmar & Indrenius for so many years?”, a young potential colleague asked me during an interview a few weeks ago. It is a good question. I’ve been with the firm for almost thirty years. And yes, I’ve come across some interesting alternative opportunities over the years, but I’ve always preferred to stay with the firm.

I began my answer by explaining how exciting and rewarding it is to support our often times demanding clients when they face challenges in their operations. The more sophisticated the clients, the more I learn from working with them. We are lucky to have clients that really appreciate our efforts to render cutting edge services and insightful advice and always push us to learn new things.

Then my answer turned into a story about our firm culture and our values. How we play a team game, how we show appreciation for each other and how we try to help each other to be at our best. How we believe in diversity and meritocracy and how we emphasize freedom and responsibility. How we don’t believe in detailed and rigid rules and prefer working together to controlling our younger colleagues’ work. How we work hard, how we are ambitious in all we do and how we always strive to give our very best.

My conclusion was that the reason I’ve enjoyed myself so tremendously at the D&I for such a long time, is our people, our culture and some of the most exciting clients in the market.

I love my colleagues. When I think about it, I’m genuinely surprised that we have, for many years, managed to live up to our “no ass-holes” -policy. I love our culture and our values and I can see how they are realised in our daily work. Our firm values are in line with my own.

 

We believe that the best things happen in the interaction between brilliant individuals. Such a culture is particularly vulnerable to limiting social interaction, to the consequences of the pandemic.

But while I love our culture and the fact that we are a culture driven professional services firm, I also have a great fear for our deep commitment to culture. Firm culture is what happens every time two co-workers meet. It is how we treat each other and our clients. Consequently, you cannot control culture or change it through a mere decision, if you don’t like it. Culture cannot be owned by any one individual or group within the firm. It is what happens in the real world every day.

That is why it is so important to understand what our culture is like. That is why it is so important to constantly discuss and seek to strengthen the good sides of our culture and try to inspire change when it comes to its negative sides. That is why we have to live our culture, we have to always walk the talk, every time we interact with our clients and each other.

In our culture, we believe in team work. We believe that the best things happen in the interaction between brilliant individuals. Such a culture is particularly vulnerable to limiting social interaction, to the consequences of the pandemic. We’ve experienced it first hand, despite our efforts to move our joint working and social interaction on-line. Just when we enjoyed getting back to the office and could see the strengths of working together at the office again, the pandemic forced us back to the virtual world.

Under these circumstances, it is especially important to keep the firm-wide discussion around our culture going. We need to understand where we are, how our culture is affected by changes in our environment and how we can seek to influence where we’re going. We all need to be reminded that the cornerstones of our culture remain valid, even though we may face limitations as to how we can live it out. I believe that for us at D&I, cultivating our culture is more important than ever.

Otherwise, to paraphrase a well-known guru (maybe not so much in the field of management of professional services firms), John Lennon, we may just notice that

– “Culture is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

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