Looking back on 2018 with Andrew Mayfield, CEO

4 min read Andrew Mayfield

What an epic year. It’s certainly been one of significant change for us. We’ve welcomed a number of talented new people into our family (our team has grown by 64%), traveled around the world to visit and learn from our community, and refined and expanded our tools.

Here’s what’s been going on at Optimal Workshop this year.

Changing how we work

One of the biggest internal changes we made this year was to switch from primary working groups based on roles to smaller cross-functional teams called squads. Each of the squads has a set of objectives tied to the overarching goals of the company and they’re left to determine how to best meet these objectives. What’s more, squads are also self-managing, meaning they have no assigned manager. It’s different, and it’s working well for us. People are reporting higher levels of autonomy, enjoyment and focus.

A side-on photo of 2 people sitting at a desk looking at a computer screen.Our Community Education squad hard at work.

We’ve also learned more about the importance of clarity this year, which I think is to be expected given our growth. I read a great article from Brené Brown, where she notes that “clear is kind, unclear is unkind”. Building a shared understanding is hard, and it’s well worth it.

Happy and healthy

A GIF image showing 4 different smoothies and juices we’ve had this year.A highlight reel of some of the amazing smoothies and juices we’ve sampled this year.

What started as an initiative to cut back on our coffee consumption (and the subsequent afternoon slumps) has turned into a daily tradition here. We continued to make fresh fruit and vegetable juices daily this year, promoting healthy dietary decisions and giving everyone something to look forward to in the morning. I think we’ll just keep doing this as long as it seems like a good idea! If you’d like to hear my rationale for these kinds of crazy initiatives, here it is: If we expect people to come in and do their best work, we need to create an environment that’s conducive to people working at their best. Read the Stuff article about us here for more information and a video.

Hitting the road (again)

A photo of a happy man with his arms held out, standing in front of a sign at a conference booth.Karl repping the Optimal Workshop team at the DesignOps Summit in New York City this year.

We’ve been to a lot of events this year, both at home and abroad. In fact, our team traveled a cumulative 205,349 miles in 2018 to connect with our community face to face. While that’s not quite the distance to the Moon, we were pretty close! I guess that’s the price of living in New Zealand, tucked away at the bottom of the globe (the bottom right corner on most maps).

Moving house

A photo of a building under construction from the inside.Our new (still under construction) home.

In what’s possibly the biggest piece of news in this post, we’re moving into a new office late next year. Allen Street has been good to us, but it’s time to grow into a new space. Where are we moving, I hear you ask? Well, we’re actually taking over a piece of Wellington history and setting up shop in the converted Paramount picture theater. We’re really excited to share more with you – and even more excited to move in there ourselves!

Our getaway to Riversdale

An aerial photo looking down at beach and surf, taken by a drone.It’s always a good idea to bring a drone with you!

It’s no secret we like to do things a little different here – and the end of the year is no exception. Instead of hanging around in the office on a Friday afternoon or going out to a bar, we arose bright and early and clambered aboard a bus to head over the hill to the Wairarapa for a very traditional Kiwi beach day. Highlights included paintball, ping pong, some lovely team meals, freezing swims in the ocean and much celebration. It was certainly a great way to see the end of the working year in.

Until next year

A photo of a man (Andrew Mayfield, CEO of Optimal Workshop), in an alleyway. He is looking at the camera.

Anyway. That’s all for my end of year update. We really love what you do and we can’t wait to get right back into making this suite of tools the best, most cohesive home for your research that it can be. I’ve said it before, but we want to be the place where you and your team find signals in the noise and meaning in the mess. After all, we’re all about helping you create meaningful experiences.

Keep your eyes peeled. We’ve got many more exciting changes on the way in 2019.

As ever, we’re just getting started.

Andrew Mayfield