Headlines of our culture
- We are a learning organization. We build knowledge together as lifelong learners who continually grow and are always arriving.
- We believe in interdependence and practice collective leadership.
- We utilize and align to human-centered transformational approaches (such as design thinking) that support transformational ways of being, thinking, and behaving.
- Our work is integrative and cyclical; we leverage internal practices in our partnerships with communities as we seek to scale and increase our impact. Community feedback is vital to inform continuous improvement on our end.
- We practice agility, adaptation, and innovation throughout our work and processes.
Our Ecosystem Culture
At Educate, we are an adaptive, interdependent community. We often talk about how we are an ecosystem. Most often we reference a forest. We reflect about how the trees, water, even fungus interact within the forest to support each other and grow together. Forests are much about the network of trees that connect to one another and the individual needs of each tree. In this way, we’re all there for each other, we lean in when someone’s struggling or our needs someone else to step up. This is true for us both internally as well as in the ways we collaborate externally to make the greatest impact in our work We are a community of people where title or tenure does not dictate possibility. We do not shy away from difficult conversations within our organization or with our partners. We demonstrate openness, humility, and reflection to ensure care of self and others. In this way, we become and sustain ourselves as a thriving, high-care organization.
Our core values are:
- Dare to lead with a Can Do Attitude
- Be Open, Humble, And Reflective. Fail fast and learn faster.
- Innovate by constantly discovering and sharing transformative ideas.
- Build team with mutual respect. Do what we say and finish what we start
- Plan with a focus on process and on well-defined outcomes, together.
In addition to role-specific skills, these are the org-wide skills that support us as we build a dream team that learns and grows together.
- Problem solving: Joining our team means you are eager to problem-solve alongside others. You are eager to work with our team and clients to realize our shared mission & vision.
- Self-awareness: You possess the power skills of emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and self-assessment and self-management (including time management).
- Accountability: You lean into generative conflict. You believe in and practice genuine inclusion. You understand that healthy teams engage in generative conflict and offer each other both accountability and support. You promote functional collaboration within and across teams using data, clear metrics, and aligned systems and processes to improve organizational performance.
- Continuous improvement and innovation: You embrace the idea that we don’t ever “arrive.” Rather, you believe that we are always “arriving” and continuously learning. You are always engaged in crafting and tending to a path of growth and transformation for yourself, and for and with others. You believe that learning should be shared with the community and that learning is demonstrated not only through implementation of new skills but also a vulnerability to name the gaps we continue to fill. You continually seek out growth opportunities and embrace new challenges. You face uncertainty with a sense of possibility, energy and eagerness.
Managing your own experience
At Educate you manage your own experience. Educate does not provide a lot of structure and direction to its team members. We avoid approaches that feel like micromanaging, instead encouraging you to manage your own experience. We seek out team members who follow through on their responsibilities, lean into the interdependent structures of our organization, and speak in an open and honest manner.
What does it mean to manage your own experience?
Trust can’t be built and maintained without high levels of accountability. When you are self-accountable, you know your deadlines and are able to identify when you might need to renegotiate them. You let others know when you are stuck, ask for help and accept support. Most important, if you drop the ball, you own it and acknowledge it to all involved and identify a plan for moving forward.
Knowing your capacity
We trust that individuals are managing themselves and their time. You know your schedules and prior commitments well enough to know your capacity and avoid overcommitting. You don’t say yes for the sake of saying yes. When your workload is below capacity, you don’t sit around. You take initiative by seeking out new assignments and projects to contribute to. You do not wait for others to provide tasks to you.
Owning your well-being
You prioritize your well-being and understand what you need and how to manage it. You will take advantage of multiple forms of support via the WE Belong team, manager check-ins, and benefits and wellness discounts through ADP.
Self-directing your learning and growth
Each of us is on a journey of growth and development. Managing your learning and growth means being open and vulnerable about your gaps and taking initiative to grow yourself. You embrace growth opportunities even when they are uncomfortable. Just as important, you see failure as a learning opportunity.
As an interdependent organization, we rely on each other to communicate needs, generate new ideas, and ask for and offer collaboration. You support interdependence when you take initiative to problem-solve and collaborate to keep our organization healthy and innovative.
Empowered and informed
You are invited to be a leader at Educate. While we respect that not everyone strives for formal leadership roles, we believe that everyone has the ability to lead in some way, and we do our best to nurture that in everyone who “dares to lead.” Here are some ways you can be empowered and informed at Educate:
- Develop a balcony view: There is transparency within the organization that keeps the team aware. Our information systems are accessible and teams are structured for open communication. The team stays informed by keeping up with updates, asking questions, and coming to shared spaces to connect and build understanding. You have access to what you need to seek information, build context, and develop insights. When you regularly engage in these practices, you are developing a “balcony view” of our organization that allows you to step up in areas that align with your strengths and interests.
- Practice collective leadership: While everyone has their individual roles at Educate, we are a collective that drives the organization forward together. No significant decision is made without input from the entire team and without considering what the impact on the team would be. We collect input in formal and informal ways including conducting empathy interviews, individual check-ins, and creating team spaces for dialogue and feedback when new changes are rolled out.
- Believe in collective ownership: Owning isn’t just literal, it’s also a mindset. It’s important to develop an understanding of our organization’s direction, health, challenges, and ongoing areas of focus. This collective mindset requires using our information systems to seek knowledge and asking for help when things aren’t clear.
At Educate, we believe everyone’s voice and perspective matters, regardless of role and title. When we enter a space with other members of the team, we suspend judgment and assume positive intent. This allows us to feel comfortable disagreeing and questioning others in the organization, no matter what their “seniority level” or title is. We are open to ideas that are not our own and acknowledge that a difference of opinion is not a personal attack.
We remember we are part of a collective. We are considerate of who is in the room, and who is not. We hold one another accountable to maintaining our community agreements. When we notice someone breaking an agreement or showing values misalignment in their actions, we name the action and the impact and then find a way to invite the person into a conversation to respond and remedy the situation.
Silence is agreement, so say what you need to say. Practice radical candor whenever possible. If you are not feeling heard, Educate is a place where you can voice that concern.
Highly Aligned, Loosely Coupled
In order for trust to continually be sustained and fostered in such an environment, we all have the responsibility to ensure our actions and approaches are aligned to Educate’s DNA. When we are highly aligned, we can be loosely coupled because even our smallest spaces can mirror the culture of our whole organization.
- There is no concept of “not my problem.” We believe in a shared vision and that there is a shared responsibility to get there together.
- We trust people to operate within our organization across different spaces and roles to find what needs attention paid to.
- We trust people to form teams and to collaborate to problem-solve and lend support.
- When problem-solving, we trust people to use human-centered methods that centers those who will be impacted and creates open possibility.
- We trust that the spaces we create are inclusive and invite the diverse perspectives and strengths of the organization as needed by the scope and context of the problem.
- We trust that everyone on our team knows processes and timelines. If they don’t or are struggling to keep to them, we trust that they will ask questions or for help.
- We trust that individuals know what they are responsible for and also who needs to be kept informed.
“Transform yourself to transform the world.” —Grace Lee Boggs
Whether you are coaching or not, it is important to know and acknowledge that transformational ways of working is hard. It starts with you and the work you need to do in order to have transformational impact. We work inside out to transform beliefs and attitudes. You need to commit to being open and vulnerable about where your current reality of practice is, what the gaps are, and what you personally need to re-examine and engage in learning around. It requires you to commit to personal mastery of your coaching practice.
“Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively. As such, it is an essential cornerstone of the learning organization—the learning organization’s spiritual foundation.” —Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline
Not every career asks you to engage in this level of transformative work on yourself and with others. You may not want to engage at this level, and that is fine. When people leave Educate and find other organizations that might be a better fit, we celebrate them finding a culture and workplace that aligns with what they want to embody.
There is no coasting here, and intentional coasting produces unjust outcomes for the communities we serve. Note that there is a difference between coasting and resting. We all need meaningful rest in this work, and finding a healthy cycle of rest and leaning in deeply to the journey of growth is critical to making our work sustainable.
There also may be a steep learning curve for you if you have not experienced being part of a flat innovative organization before. Hierarchical systems of power still dominate much of our society and it can be jarring to transition into a system that prioritizes individual responsibility to a collective. It is important to clarify what kind of organization you want to be in, as misalignment will be very stressful for you and others.
We are human-centered, we are mission-driven, and we are a business. Integrating all of these pieces is hard work, and we embrace that work.
When you walk by a noisy classroom, what do you hear? We hear energy and we see possibility. We see strengths and wonder about the learning and cultural assets being displayed. We see whole people, big and small, trying to create a meaningful community together. We celebrate every risk taken and every risk taker who meets discomfort with courage, who embraces failing fast and learning faster. We partner with educators who are trying to create meaningful learning experiences and unlock the potential in each and every child. This is what gets us up in the morning, and why we love the noisy classroom.
The next time you attend an Educate meeting, listen carefully. How noisy are we? How much noisier can we become?