Good Read: Neil Blumenthal of Warby Parker on a Culture of Communication

Originally posted on #GovLife.

Or as I’d like to call this post, Everything I Learned About Workplace Culture, I Learned From Warby Parker.

But seriously. For those of you who don’t know about Warby Parker (I may need a moment to re-evaluate our friendship), they’re one of the small business darlings from New York that popped up in 2010. They make glasses – amazing glasses – on the cheap. Think Clearly Contacts but actually cool. They’re perfect for my occasional hipster aesthetic. The cherry on top? They do the one-for-one thing. But I digress.

I read this except of an interview with Neil Blumenthal, one of the founders of Warby Parker, and by the end of it I found myself wanting to work there SO BAD. I am not particularly passionate about glasses, I know the arguments about the one-for-one thing not being a scalable solution to anything, blah blah blah. But the reason I decided that I wanted to work there was because of the culture Blumenthal described.

Some of my favourite parts of the Warby Parker culture include:

1) Weekly company-wide meetings: “We view this as an opportunity for everybody in the company to understand what’s going on, because so much of what we do is integrated. It also provides learning opportunities, so somebody working in customer experience can learn about a brand-perception study.”

2) Quarterly 360 degree performance reviews: “[It] is very time-consuming. But as a manager, it’s your highest priority to be developing your people. The promise we make to our employees is that you’ll always know how you’re doing and that there will never, ever be surprises.”

3) Weekly innovation ideas: “We think a lot about being a disruptive company. The question is, How do you remain a disruptive company? How do you create a culture of innovation? The first way is actually asking for innovation.”

At Warby Parker, it seems as though no topic is taboo. Contrast this to the public service where everything seems taboo.

Can we adopt any of these for the public service? Which ones? Do you hate any of these ideas?

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Dick Davies

Thanks for your post Erin.

Sounds like they work really hard and reap the rewards. I got on their bus when it came to Washington.