Think of the words “show and tell” and you might be brought back to your adolescent years or remembering when you helped your own child pick out something to share with the class. When I think of show and tell, there’s nothing juvenile about it. I’m thinking of an opportunity for professionals to both share wisdom gained with others, and be celebrated by their peers.
At Innovatemap, we’ve ingrained show and tell into our culture from the start. Here’s how it works: every other Friday, the team gathers over lunch, and we hear from team members who have something exciting to share. Perhaps it’s a new brand concept, maybe it’s a product positioning framework, a new logo, or a new format to run a particular type of meeting. It could be work completed for a client, or internal work that is showcased. Whatever it is, it’s worth being proud of and therefore worth sharing. We have someone who acts as the show and tell coordinator to ensure everyone who wants to share is able.
While show and tell has evolved in some ways, it’s been a part of the company since its inception. This is largely because myself and others on the founding team believe in it so much. I’ve experienced show and tell in previous positions, and it’s something I knew would fit well with Innovatemap’s culture. While the show and tell tradition may benefit companies in any industry, it takes a certain culture to be able to implement it well, without ego and without getting competitive.
Why it Works
Show and tell works well for us for a number of reasons. We’re innately curious. We want to learn from one another, and because we intentionally hire people with diverse skill sets, there is much to learn from our peers. Plus, we truly celebrate wins. We make it easy to share, so participating in show and tell doesn’t seem like a chore. It’s casual, so there’s no prep required and no expectation of polish. Because of these things, we typically have several people wanting to share each week. In fact, we used to do show and tell at the end of each of our weekly team meetings, but we would simply run out of time. Now, we have a dedicated time just for show and tell.
While as a company, we’re always looking to improve, show and tell is not an opportunity for critique. We keep this 45 minutes or so entirely positive. This is another reason why we have so many people stepping up to share.
The Value it Brings
Show and tell puts focus on excellence. That’s so important to us. When our team members are sharing work, we’re setting the tone for what is important and what is possible. When you see excellence, it makes you want to be excellent yourself. It also offers an ongoing opportunity to be inspired. We get positively inspired by the great work our teammates are doing, and that accelerates growth across the entire company both for the work we do for clients, and the work we do for the company.
Over the years, we’ve had so many memorable show and tell moments. The “show” portion is always great, but the magic is usually in the “tell.” The tell portion allows everyone to get excited, as the enthusiasm of our team members can shine through their words. The most game-changing show and tell stories are the ones that showcase an improvement to a methodology or an experiment. In this way, show and tell can be the catalyst for evolution within our own processes. When someone presents on a topic that is widely applicable, these leaps of progress become standard with everyone emulating the newly-discovered best practice.
Simply put, show and tell is an integral part of our company—and that will never change—yet it also spurs change because it helps us continually improve upon processes. It’s one of the many ways we’re able to show we value everyone’s expertise and prioritize excellence.