The first two feedbacks on this document were:
- “What is the purpose of this document?”
- “When I read the LIVEline, I just really become passionate to work for you.”
So, b) is the answer to a): the LIVEline gives an impression of the character of our company. It summarises who we are and what we think is right when working together. Therefore, we often use it as a platform to find out who wants to work with LIVEsciences AG or we have passionate discussions on different situations in our day2day work life. In the following chapters, we invite all readers to explore why this company exists, what really matters to us, and how we interact with each other.
Download the LIVEline as PDF.
The purpose of LIVEsciences AG is to “Catalyse Success” of our employees, partners, and customers.
There is an extended and more visionary explanation. We are looking for the “science to catalyse the movements of life”.
As important as having a purpose is that it is built into the operating model and values of LIVEsciences AG. Therefore, our LIVEline empowers all employees as individuals and as a group to align our purpose with the identity of our organisation.
- On the one hand, we have the distinct LIVEguard role monitoring this alignment proactively
- And on the other hand, everybody has not only the right, but also the duty to address misalignments between purpose and identity
Additionally, we are convinced of the following:
- Imagine the company purpose as the trunk of a tree. Every role has its specific purpose that can be interpreted as the branches of the tree which will be adapted if needed
- Decision-making and actions are driven by a desire to fulfil the organisation’s purpose
- Seeing the job not only as a job or primarily a career-kicker but also giving the job a meaning will end up in better results
- On the long run, there are no trade-offs between purpose and profit which is essential for every company to survive, but the purpose will ultimately lead to successful business and profit
- Every one of us comes to LIVEsciences with his/her unique personal purpose and is invited to contribute and further develop our collective company purpose
Insights from Steffen: Once a year the whole team meets at Kleine Scheidegg and we visit our cow in the Alps. After a day of workshops or working on the farm we have this ritual to go to a little hat on an observation platform to present our personal purpose. In-between this astonishing nature we share our personal purpose, our individual reason to get up every morning, what is driving and motivating us. These moments can be very emotional and reflect what LIVEsciences really is. To me LIVEsciences is defined by everyone’s purpose. Wherever the overlap of these individual purposes with the company purpose is, is where we are going as a team. In case there is no overlap at all this can be an eye-opening experience and helps to ask the right questions if LIVEsciences is the right platform to pursue your own purpose. This purpose meeting every year in this idyllic hat to me is the most meaningful and powerful “Strategy Meeting” and probably also “Engagement Campaign” I can imagine.
WHOLENESS & SAFE SPACE
- We strive to create safe spaces where everyone of us can behave authentically in all human aspects like emotion, ratio, intuition, cognition, curiosity & creativity, visions & dreams, and structure in a playful way
- The sum of all unique individuals reveals the power of diversity and inclusion and will leverage better results than single opinions of unmanaged egos
- We are all equally worth and at the same time all different
- Our community will be richest if we let all members contribute in their distinctive way, appreciating our differences
- Content and intention are more important than the form people use to express themselves
- We are patient to listen and support each other in situations where we cannot express ourselves instantly with logical and consistent arguments, but are more driven by our gut feeling
Besides having the opportunity to behave and express ourselves as fully appreciated humans, we believe that wholeness emerging out of safe space is one of the key success factors for our company.
Insights from Anna: “Argue like you are right, listen like you are wrong” – Karl Weick
As I stumbled over this quote recently, it felt like standing in front of a mirror. Not as myself, but rather as part of LIVEsciences – this sentence reflects for me the spirit of the company and of this document. Because all that it says is that we bring value to ourselves and to others only when we behave like genuine learners but are never afraid to speak up and honestly say what we think. And to achieve this you need the fruitful safe space environment, transparency, and trust. It is a long way to go for me personally and for every one of us, but what I appreciate is our collective honest intention to go this way. And that is what I always want to see reflected in the mirror.
Plans & objectives
Organic structure is our friend and can support us in many aspects. The trust in structure has its boundaries when the structure starts dominating our thinking or replaces long term intrinsic motivation with short term satisfaction.
Structure elements like plans, objectives, targets, KPIs, budgets…
- Shall not stand between action and purpose; Doing the right thing is always right
- Serve as a baseline for our communication and actions, but are always subject to change
- Serve as a baseline to increase productivity by increasing focus
- Help to slice THINK BIG into ACT SMALL and to keep moving forward until succeeding or FAILing FAST. Identifying the gaps between initial plans and actual outcomes helps to set an agenda in order to LEARN RAPIDLY
- Can be expressed in various forms incl. playful ways like “bet & play”
- Are best when they arise bottom up in form of self-commitment
- Should not be too detailed but the amount of detail should be in line with the predictability of an event. In general, planning the tasks for the next week is much more predictable than a 3-year strategy
- Should keep in mind that figures are rather revealing questions than providing answers
- Should always have “fail fast KPIs” defined to empower everyone to not waste resource, money or time on plans and objectives, which should be changed
We believe that in our complex world the common purpose-driven decision-making opens novel possibilities and leads to better solutions than the legacy management models
Insights from Frank: When I think about “Plans & Objectives”, the first thing that comes in my mind is that my spontaneity might be restricted. Adhering to everything that was planned, focusing on all the agreed targets seems to predict my future with little room to express myself.
But what when you see structure in general not as something where you must comply with but as servant patterns? Spontaneously this seems as a paradox to me. But in a second thought structure could serve without limiting any degree of freedom. In contrast – the right amount could even enable you to live even more of your time in the “now”.
Imagine a day where you have planned 10 short appointments with interesting people you meet just for the sake of networking without any specific agenda. Oh my god the calendar seems to be so full, no room to breathe. But once you let go the day will not only be very fulfilling, but for sure completely different than you expected – if you would have expected anything.
Self-management allows everybody to innovate and develop his/her ideas with minimal delay. Everyone is empowered to act without waiting for approvals and is required only to sense the customer’s needs.
Every idea is welcome even if it sounds absurd in the beginning. An important criterion for a successful innovation process is agility: failing fast reducing the investment needed in the beginning, as well as being able to follow-through on more ideas in the end.
Enthusiastic sceptics are to be involved right from the beginning. In doing so, we are able to tackle the biggest challenges of an idea first and can identify potential fails early on. We can then decide whether it makes sense to invest more time or whether to abandon the idea.
We believe that innovation can be triggered and realised on all the following levels:
- Reactive – often based on pains
- Responsive – sense & respond
- Proactive – building the future
- Evocative – catalytic, viral, disruptive & challenging
Modern, agile, and user-driven concepts are key for building an inspiring innovation culture both inside and outside our organisation.
Transparency & Decision Making
Information transparency is a key element of our understanding of a healthy culture and the basis for efficient and effective decision-making. Information transparency means:
- Every colleague has access to all business information to be able to act and take the best decisions in serving the company
- Everyone is able to handle difficult and sensitive news. With transparency and openness, we can access the collective intelligence
- This enables decisions to be made with the advice process described in more detail below (Pull)
- Collaboration platforms (e.g. our Weekly meeting) serve to inform others briefly about what’s going on (Push)
- We share all information, insights, and knowledge we have. We believe that our collaboration will be more fruitful and valuable if we synergize
- Everyone knows how to access information that affects them and others within the organisation. Subjective intuitions, feelings, and opinions are also considered as information, separate from objective facts, and are not used to give undue weight to a particular view
- We handle positive and negative information with integrity and without snap judgement
- We comply with all legal data privacy obligations concerning personal information and give privacy to colleagues when they need it
At LIVEsciences, all decision authority lies with our roles. At the same time everyone is entitled to take any decision at any time – we are sure to do the right thing, no matter what else we have in place. The right thing always wins.
As a default rule we go for single decision making combined with the advice process, meaning that any person can take any decision after seeking advice from
- All stakeholders who will be significantly affected or at least key representatives of these groups
- People with expertise in the matter or holding relevant information for this decision, e.g. the “Finance Manager” role for decisions with significant out-of-pocket cost involved
- Note: if you feel you don’t know whom to ask for advice, you may also ask someone to suggest an expert or advisor for your decision
Advice received shall be taken into consideration. However, we do not intend to create a diluted compromise that accommodates everybody’s wishes. Advice is simply advice. No colleague can advise the decision-maker what to decide. Usually, the decision-maker is the person who noticed an issue first, he/she is the owner of a specific role or he/she is affected by the issue.
With this consultative way of single-decision making combined with an advice process, we intend to access collective wisdom in the pursuit of a sound decision: with all the advice and perspectives in mind, the decision-maker chooses what he/she believes is the best course of action. This process will allow anybody to seize the initiative.
How we avoid risky pathways due to blind spots? We are leveraging consent decision making. Consent means the absence of objections and going with a “good enough for now, safe enough to try” solution. In case there are any objections, i.e. significant risks to the survival of the company, the decision cannot be taken, and the objections need to be dealt with (e.g., by seeking understanding or revising content).
Following both, single decision making with advice and consent decision making, we maintain an efficient way of taking decisions while at the same time balancing risks due to blind spots.
However, we know at least two exceptions where we switch to decision making by consensus as these decisions have a higher criticality to our business:
- Recruiting requires consensus within the panel
- Purpose changes require consensus across the company
Insights from Caroline: In the “real world” we as individuals constantly make decisions. Every day we decide if we have the budget to purchase a certain item, we know where to find information, plan a holiday or a trip, and we are confronted with huge responsibilities like paying taxes, taking care of our beloved once or driving a car – so, why should I not be able to do the exact same things in the corporate world, too?
There are so many adults, that are treated like kids, once they arrive at their workplace. Working at LIVEsciences means I have to take my own decisions every day. Surely, I can ask my colleagues, but whether I go for training, buy gifts for partners or book a certain hotel, is up to me! Why? Because I am able to do it in the “real world”, too! In order to do so, I need to have full transparency about everything. But once I have that, I am free to take any decision and that makes things a lot easier and saves time for all of us.
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT & TENSIONS
Basic assumptions to think about before and while addressing conflicts:
- We focus on changing ourselves and then invite others to join. Always think about your responsibility first
- We take ownership for our verbal and non-verbal communication and for what we do and don’t do (especially commitments)
- We first try to understand before we agree or disagree
- Better than judging is to help our colleagues to do better in the future
Addressing conflicts is not only a right but also a duty:
- Everybody is a sensor
- Everybody is responsible to actively address conflicts and personal tensions
- Worth doing, even if you think that others might not like to hear it
We resolve conflicts fast:
- Avoiding conflicts is not possible, therefore we aim to solve them
- Small unresolved issues often have a huge demoralizing impact over time
- Conflicts are an invite to learn and grow as an individual and / or organisation
Conflicts are born in personal subjective emotions and tensions. Pretended harmony makes them grow into serious conflicts. To avoid this, the following steps should be followed by everyone:
- The affected colleagues sit together and try to sort the tension out privately or process it in a dedicated meeting
- If they can’t find a solution agreeable to everyone, they nominate a colleague they trust to act as a mediator or call an external mediator. The mediator doesn’t impose a decision. Rather he or she supports the participants in coming to their own solution
- If mediation fails, a panel of topic-relevant colleagues is convened. Again, the panel does not impose a solution
- In an ultimate step, the founders might be called into the panel to add to the panel’s moral weight (but not to impose a solution)
- Maybe there are still other options we can look for, but certainly dismissal becomes a potential option, too
Insights from Steffen: In our weekly meeting we have a slot called “Tensions”. You can either address any tensions you are having with a situation or a person or share any tension that you had during the week, if you think that others can learn from it. When we started with this setup, I sometimes felt strange when it comes to tensions and was afraid that somebody could have a tension with me because I might made something wrong. It took a few months for me to really see the value of this agenda point and you would see me cheering in speaking choirs whenever there were many tensions to address. I would even start having tensions when we did not have any tensions.
In any human interaction there are certain tensions, due to bad communication, to emotional roller coasters, due to inattention or whatever. If there are no tensions the team is either emotionally dead or there is no safe space. Not communicated tensions can damp your mind and no tension – no progress. Therefore, the more the better!
Pillars of Effectiveness
Purpose is the basis for our actions and success, but we believe efficiency is not a competitor to purpose but its multiplier.
Working internally, as well as in our work with customers, our work will be carried-out according to our principles summarized in the TAFL© Model.
References: Seven habits to become highly effective (YouTube Link) & Adam M. Grant – Give and Take
Insights from Anna: I believe that I am an organized person who can set priorities and efficiently get things done. What I learned with LIVEsciences is that organisation has different levels – like in a computer game the monsters get stronger, the maps bigger, and the quests get more challenging. Or everything is just different, and you need to adapt to it. Therefore, levelling up requires you to acquire new skills, items, allies… and manage them properly. The internal structure of the company supports me in doing exactly this – efficiently managing everything necessary to level up.
EVERYBODY IS AN ENTREPRENEUR
There is nothing wrong with cruising for a certain time, but we all are dynamos (see the reference below). We are intrigued by personal growth and impact realization following our purpose, which can be manifested by a variety of behaviours and actions:
- We all have the full responsibility driving the company together as interacting catalysts
- If we sense that something needs to happen, we have a duty to address it. It’s not acceptable to limit our concern to the remit of the roles we are holding at any specific moment in time
- The status quo is our enemy. We strive for pioneering and visionary solutions, which are aligned with our purpose
- We follow our ideas and passion; we would rather ask for an apology afterwards than wait for a permission
All these ideas are summarized quite well in the “Entrepreneur Manifesto” quote: “While politicians pander, bureaucrats bully and academics theorize, we relentlessly produce.”
Behaving like an entrepreneur often comes with uncertainty and risk. We stick together when taking risks and failing. We accept falling and our humour and the ability to laugh about ourselves and learn from our failures enables us to together turn the wheel from FAIL FAST to LEARN RAPIDLY and THINK BIG again.
Self-Responsibility & Productivity
Everyone has full responsibility for the organisation. Everyone is expected to sense issues or opportunities and address them. Everyone must be comfortable with holding others accountable for their commitments through feedback and respectful confrontation.
- We can rely on our colleagues’ commitments. We only take commitments if we have the intention, the skills, and the resources to deliver. Otherwise, we negotiate for alternatives
- We don’t blame others for failed commitments, but we raise complaints in a productive way to figure out ways to improve the next time
- We are thankful for raised complaints and see them as opportunities for continuous improvement
- We honour the constructive complaints raised by our colleagues just as we honour honest apologies for failed commitments
- When we fail with our commitments, we inform stakeholders as early as possible to minimize negative impact, and we strive to learn from our failures for the future
- As we appreciate the responsiveness of others, we continuously reflect our own responsiveness
- As we demand a lot of flexibility and degrees of freedom, we are self-responsible to manage our own working times and productivity
- We approach our self-management principles (no classical hierarchies) with the same responsibility as we do our private life
- We are responsible for not producing too much waste to increase the overall productivity. We align our meeting- and communication practices according to this need for efficiency
- We strive to continuously improve our organisation
SELF-REFLECTION & PERSONAL GROWTH
Self-reflection is the foundation for wholeness and other foundational principles of our LIVEline. Putting ourselves in the driver seat, we not only appreciate feedback, but also proactively ask for it to enable our personal growth and development.
- We appreciate rituals, which support us in our personal reflection, for example sharing our learnings in every Weekly meeting
- Self-reflection and active sharing of learning insights offers two-directional feedback and learning possibilities
- We believe that “the person responsible for my career and personal development I see reflected in my mirror”
We see every issue as an invitation to learn and grow personally. We will always be learners. We never arrive.
- Failure is always an opportunity, if we boldly strive for our purpose. We discuss failures openly and learn from them. Hiding, neglecting or refusing to learn from a failure is not acceptable
- Feedback and respectful confrontation are gifts we share to help each other grow
Insights from Kyra: I always tried to reflect, adapt and improve myself when somebody didn’t agree with me instead of standing behind my opinion. Which made me insecure and gave me the feeling my opinion did not matter. But because we at LIVEsciences are so busy with self-reflection and the thoughts and meaning behind it, it became clear to me that there will be always something I can improve, adapt or reflect on. So, I decided to still reflect but not let my flaws divine me anymore.
APPRECIATION & RECOGNITION
Based on our humanistic worldview, we appreciate diversity & inclusion. Any form of discrimination (sexism, racism, etc.), as well as any behaviour, however subtle (i.e. rolling eyes or other body language) that is disrespectful towards another person is not accepted by anyone in the organisation.
Cooperativeness includes being addressable, responsive, and open for the issues of others. Showing real interest for our colleagues is one of the best ways of recognition. Any time invested in being cooperative and in catalysing your colleagues is time well invested.
Besides being demanding and supportive to others, we express our appreciation and recognition when we feel it. Often, the smallest acts of attentiveness express the biggest appreciation.
Appreciation naturally includes self-appreciation.
Insights from Irina: In our weekly meeting we usually share our pipelines, our accomplishments, and further topics, which are relevant for the team – nothing special so far. But in addition, we share our Learning, Praise, and Success of the week. I love the praise part and it is always something very special to me. It reminds me how grateful I can be for so many little things that I have in my life. Praising someone or something helps me focusing on the positive things and makes me aware of not taking everything for granted. This ritual we have at LIVEsciences always boosts my energy and let me never forget for how many things I can say the little-big “Thank you!”.