Comic Con Culture, an Illustration for the Workplace

SDCC Culture

Comic Con Culture, an Illustration for the Workplace

Posted on July 20, 2018 by Chad Alexander

This week, San Diego Comic Con (or SDCC) is being flooded with cosplayers, booths full of goodies, and anyone lucky enough to see the panels full of celebrities after standing in line for hours. Attendees dress in elegant costumes, and various halls are electric with energy as news sites live stream constantly.

The average workplace, on the other hand, lacks even a modicum of the enthusiasm and excitement of this convention. Sure, it’s work. Work is meant to be difficult. That’s why it’s called “work”. However, it doesn’t need to be a burden.

Let’s take another look at the SDCC. There are so many vendors, so many companies represented, and so many comics! Trailers of the biggest blockbusters are showcased. Marvel and DC. Star Wars and Star Trek. Transformers and Voltron. Yet all of the participants, sponsors, and guests have one thing in common—they are there for the culture.

So why can’t we have that in the workplace? What can we do to ensure that employees are excited to be a part of something bigger than themselves and are actually willing and ready to come to work? Can we make this happen? We can, but we need to ask some difficult questions of our business.

Are the right people on your team?

“Are the right people on our team?” is a simple, yet deep question. Are the right people in your organization? We can determine this in a number of ways, including the GWC method, which is an acronym for: Get it, Want it, and Capacity to do it:

  • Do they Get it? In other words, does the employee understand what they are doing?
  • Do they Want it? Passion can provide a huge edge in business. It’s what caused talents like Walt Disney, Elvis, and Led Zeppelin to never give up.
  • Do they have the Capacity to do it? Are they struggling to meet deadlines because they wear multiple hats? If they are, what can we do to give them the best and only hat for their needs (and ours)? We may also want to consider if family life is negatively impacting work and how it can be combated.

So, why are we focused on the team here? Culture can thrive when the right people are on the team. Just like Comic Con, you wouldn’t expect people who hate comic books to attend; and like any good comic book, you need to have a good writer, penciller, inker, colorist, and letterer.

Those steering the culture need to weed out those who negatively impact or willingly sabotage it. If someone is there only for the money, do they really want the job and are they an asset to your organization or a liability?

Employees are human beings.

Some of the best, larger than life comic book characters are very human. They struggle with the same things that we struggle with. They have families and work to balance while saving the world. Employees are your superheroes. From the janitor to the top executive, they all help drive your organization, and your culture needs to reflect their less than super-human needs. They need:

  • Empowerment to make work-life balance decisions
  • Autonomy to get the job done
  • Opportunities for continual learning
  • Chances for creative problem solving
  • Be able to argue or contradict superiors without fear of retribution or dismissal

To paraphrase Richard Branson, employees should feel like they are more than just a cog. Employees should be the spark that sets the tinder aflame.

Culture also needs to protect employees when a client is angry (this happens all too often in any sector). This culture should be our guiding light when employees are make mistakes. It’s that focus and values-driven decision making that will help grow and keep your business.

Get your values straight. Seriously.

Write your values down, commit to them, and express them as policy and practice. Your organization should breathe these values like air and then act on them. They don’t necessarily have to be in moralistic terms like, “Treat everyone with respect”, but they should be expressed in real terms. These are real life examples I have seen executed very well:

  • A willingness to lose a client to defend an employee
  • Making a no payment up front unless you are completely satisfied with the job commitment
  • Granting vacation time to those who have worked overtime for a client in the form of PTO

Values should dictate the customs of your organization (what you do and how well you do it). They inform the basis and evolution of your culture.

Define the Game.

We have our team, filled with human beings, who are focused on the values of their organization. Now what? There’s a wonderful book out there called The Game of Work. It postulates that businesses thrive when they are like a game, driven by rules or at least a framework. Like basketball, comic book conventions, or fishing, rules help define good outcomes and bad outcomes. These definitions are dependent on what industry we are in. At comic book conventions, people are looking to grab back-issues of their favorite comics, get to see the latest Marvel panel, or team up with their fellow cosplayers. They have created a framework of success and they execute it. Organizations that fail to define a framework of what success is are less likely to stay afloat.

Next Steps.

These new insights will help you design a work experience and environment that activates inspired employees, improving your employment brand, productivity, and ROI. For a partner in this effort, reach out to Corporate Culture Specialist. We are a firm dedicated to helping organizations realize their full potential through inspired corporate culture.

You can contact us here, or find additional insights on our blog page.

Comments 1

  1. I love the comparisons you drew between Comic Con and workplace culture – great insight!

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