From June 23 to June 24, Stenograph held a company-wide summit dedicated to connecting and learning from each other, and codifying a set of values and principles to carry into our future. We called it the Ubuntu Summit, and the learning, discussion, and exchange of ideas that occurred on those days are paving roads to an even better Stenograph.
If Ubuntu is a new term to you, I encourage you to check out our previous post, “What is Ubuntu?” but it roughly translates to, “I am because we are.” If you do a quick online search, you will surely read a story about a group of children refusing to race for a prize – choosing instead to hold hands and finish all together so they can share their treat. I have heard it associated with the idea that teams either succeed or fail together, and I often connect to my own childhood memories of my mother telling me, “Many hands make light work.” Ubuntu honors the importance of community and acknowledges that we do not do anything in a vacuum – we exist and thrive through our connections to each other.
It’s a unique mindset to have in a fast-moving world where we often say competition – not connection – breeds innovation and progress. When I joined Stenograph this year, I was introduced to this term as a foundation of our values. I had heard it before, but I had never seen a company culture truly embrace it until I met my colleagues at Stenograph. So, if this company culture was already in place, why did we have a summit, what did it accomplish, and what does it mean for our customers?
I think there were some wary participants in the early moments of the summit. As I said, Ubuntu and a general culture of community and compassion were already staples at Stenograph. Two full days dedicated to reinforcing it seemed excessive, perhaps, when there were customer concerns and other work to attend to. Any hesitance was gone within the first hour, as we shared our highest points in our careers at Stenograph. From 30-year veterans to brand new employees, like me, everyone had a success story to share – and they all had something important in common: we all felt like a part of something. We serve customers that have incredible skills and perform necessary, vital roles, and we are so proud of it. That’s where our summit began: appreciating where Stenograph had been so that we could decide where it is going together.
In the events and discussions (and skits; there were skits!) that followed, we had an opportunity to hear directly from customers what they love about Stenograph and what they need from us going forward. Employees from every department and role brainstormed together about how we can better serve our customers. I was amazed by the innovation and creativity of our teams. I feel connected to my colleagues and confident that we are aligned in our mission. These are bridges we could have built over months and years of working together under an Ubuntu mindset, but the reality of day-to-day work is that we very rarely have opportunities to connect with everyone and let all of them have a voice at the table at the same time. The Ubuntu Summit gave us that opportunity.
In the days to come, Stenograph is strengthening our Ubuntu foundation. We are developing projects to increase employee engagement, streamline communications, and improve internal processes. All these lead to our common goal: supporting our customers every day and being the best possible partner in the industry. As I said before, Ubuntu roughly translates to, “I am because we are.” Well, at Stenograph, we believe that. We also believe “we are because our customers are.” I am excited to help Stenograph carry that mindset into our future.