An interview with Tanya Shaw, Founder and CEO, Unique Solutions and Judi Richardson, Executive Vice President of Corporate Culture, Professional Development and Quality Assurance
Robin Report: Tanya, you are in the midst of rapid growth as a company – increasing staff by 1000% in a year, and have moved from one location to 65 in nine months, to over 200 by the end of this year. What has your corporate culture strategy been through the past year?
Tanya Shaw: You hear stories of small companies growing too fast — I knew we needed the right people in place to lead key pieces of our tremendous growth. The foundation for that team’s success is to create the right corporate culture to reach short-term targets and long-term vision. And we feel we have a unique and transformative strategy.
Judi has been critical in helping to build our corporate culture. Working together, we have developed our philosophy— not about seeing people as a fixed cost — but rather, harnessing and maximizing human creative potential to add value and create a meaningful new corporate culture model. True collaboration is about actively creating relationships; inviting people to move from a single vision to shared vision; and recognizing and encouraging each individual’s constructive contribution.
RR: Judi, what is Tanya onto here? Why is corporate culture so crucial to the success of Me-Ality’s rapid growth?
Judi Richardson: We read everywhere about the importance of culture; for Me-Ality, I see it as “leaderfull” mindset working together to create the environment for executing strategy with focus, agility and innovation. We work smart to increase the quality of awareness as well as conscious intention — and what I call transformative momentum — while always ensuring alignment with our corporate imperative.
We are also mindful that the root word of culture is “cult.” It is tempting and all too typical to recruit and hire “in our image.” So it is for that very reason we promote awareness of the importance of diverse ways of thinking, processing, and backgrounds that contribute to creativity and innovation. We invest in resisting our own biases and assumptions to be the only reality. What I’ve learned in my global experience
is that we have access to something very valuable in our differences that we can never have in sameness. Our diverse teams promote deeper dialogue and higher creativity.
RR: Me-Ality is known for being experts in “fit” as it relates to fashion. We hear the term all the time, people who “fit” in organizations. How does Me-Ality work with that kind of fit?
TS: Fit comes into play in our recruiting, hiring, and measurements. And as in our size matching service, we are breaking the rules. Although there are areas in which specific targets can be traditionally measured in our organization, there are other areas in which we are breaking new ground by developing the mindset and metrics to measure the skill set of moving quickly and developing agility.
JR: This is why we “explode” the idea of “fitting” into a corporate culture. At Me-Ality, we have the non-negotiable foundation of our corporate culture, and each and every person contributes to the expansion of that culture as they join our corporate community. At most workplaces, including ours, we often spend more time with each other than we do with our families. So we work to create the kind of corporate culture in which we all want to work and play in on a day-to-day basis. Our culture is always evolving, and when it is ultimately built, it will create a sustainable culture in which we will always want to work for a company that instills pride.
When we recruit, we instantly recognize people with vision because they aren’t afraid to share their hopes, their dreams, and their aspirations. They truly inspire us -– they know the best way to predict the future is to create it together.
RR: Can you share some of the specific techniques used in a day-in-the-life in the world of Me-Ality?
JR: In two words: Peak Performance. We go above and “Meyond!!” We bring into play the Peak Performance methodology to positively, productively and strategically influence the conversations, quality of leadership, quality of lives and our Me-Ality workplaces.
We work across the organization — from senior executives to support staff — in our “Size Matching Stations.” We use “Velocity Coaching” to create an environment of achievement and fulfilling work as we all recognize, train and teach the model behind “catching people doing things right.” We encourage everyone to be fully expressive and to embrace how his or her role in our organization goes beyond the traditional role of “what is mine to do.” We expand and break those rules! This unleashes the brilliance of our team making the perceived impossible, possible. For instance, we created a technology (the only one in the world to scan fully clothed) that was cost prohibitive to scale up. We used the same strategy for success, to make the impossible, possible, with both executives and the development team, and we were able to bring the technology to a sustainable price point.
We promote a creative community. We know that creative people enjoy what they are doing and tend to describe themselves as passionate. As a result they are apt to behave more positively towards their colleagues, customers, and people they come into contact with as we sustain a creative environment. In our experience, staff turnover decreases and consistency and sustainability — both requirements for success — increase.
RR: And are you having fun?
JR: Not only are we are having fun, we are seeing ROI from this growth! We have one “uber passion” over all others — the power of leading a transformational movement that results in transformative growth. It is a distinct way of thinking; a special perspective on the world allowing us to see unique patterns. When we are mindful of these patterns and bring them to light, we can then play out alternative scenarios, strategically moving our vision forward even in the face of apparent obstacles.
TS: It is powerful to see the transformations we are impacting in both our people, company as a whole and the industry.