Luminary 20th birthday team photo

Our social contract

To create a social contract, all we had to do was distill the essence of 60+ individual views across 15+ cultural backgrounds, four time zones and two continents… simple, right?!

Marty Drill

By Marty Drill, 5 December 20193 minute read

How do you have a culture that is supportive and accepting? How do you have a culture where people can be themselves and at the same time not adversely impact others? There are many factors in developing a supportive company culture. We have long believed that putting people first is the key to a successful culture. Our approach has always been to have the team decide on what they want from each other. 

At our October Team Meeting, we gave everyone time to write down what they wanted from each other. We collected this on post-it notes and an online tool called Miro. We collated all the statements/requests and it came to 6.5 pages. Reducing the duplicates and similar statements, the end result was 3.5 pages, that were then sent to the team for their review. The challenge was obvious – while it was all inclusive, it was too long. 

We wanted to develop a social contract that reflected our culture and created a reference point for how to approach situations, rather than a set of rules to live by. Happy to say that we have achieved that by creating broad statements that were in our tone of voice and in some cases humorous. This list creates a much broader view of a situation than an unambiguous rule. The statements capture who we are as a team and guide how we interact with each other. 

Luminary’s social contract

The social contract we came up with reflects the fundamental values we hold:

  • We crave autonomy and we value each other
  • We focus on the problem, not the person
  • Team members feel safe to take risks and be genuine with each other.

Our social contract provides the freedom to be yourself and guides you on how to relate to people and produce great work together.  

We agree to have these statements guide our actions and behaviour:

  1. Talk in the office as though your Mum is listening
  2. Treat people as though they are important to you
  3. Treat the office, meeting rooms and equipment as though you paid for them
  4. Approach problems like you don’t know the answer
  5. Complete your timelogs with integrity, as though the agency’s future depends on it
  6. Treat people’s time as though it is precious
  7. Listen to people and maybe they will listen to you
  8. Attend meetings as though Jean-Claude Van Damme was on the other end of the video
  9. Seek to use the most effective communication channels
  10.   Approach time zones as though you were the one who had to get up early or stay late
  11.   Imagine you were the one who had to learn a language to work here
  12.   Have people around you win
  13.   Remember, we are all mentors and we are all students
  14.   Treat meeting start and end times as though you run the Japanese bullet trains
  15.   Acknowledge the wins and the losses
  16.   If you make a mistake, own it, remedy it and move on
  17.   Leave your office spaces better than you found them
  18.   Always code as if the person who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live
  19.   Dance like nobody is watching (it's safe to be you) 
  20.   Be excellent to each other

If a new team member joins us, we are open to their ideas and welcome their contribution. If there is a need for a major change to it, we will seek to enter into a new agreement.

Want to read more about social contracts? Check out ‘Social contracts: Working out how to work together’.

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