Table XI Blog

Culture

How active listening boosts product innovation

You know that innovative products keep you two steps ahead of the competition. But in a sea of possible ideas, which one is best for your bottom line?

The answer lies with your users. When you actively listen to them, you can identify their needs, clarify their pain points, and chart a path to address both.

When it comes to product innovation, active listening means more than just nodding along to what your users say. To show them you care about solving their problems, you need to gather user feedback at every step of the product design process. This way, you can develop impactful, innovative products.

Here, let’s look at how active listening helps you identify problems, design with empathy, and find the right solution.

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Why Accessibility Is Part of Everything We Build

At TXI, we’re making an effort to share more information about how we think about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) and how we’re taking action. To that end, we’ve been blogging about the four justice pillars that our DEIB group uses to structure our company’s efforts to create a better, more equitable workplace and ultimately, world.

We recently published an article on how DEIB approaches disability justice, and in that conversation, we touched on the idea of accessibility.

To dive deeper into this topic, we invited product designer, DEIB group member, and accessibility working group lead Alex Chen to share their thoughts on how TXI is working to make accessibility part of everything we do. Here’s what they had to say.

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Becoming a remote-first workplace? 4 insights from our experience

At the start of the pandemic, thousands of US companies were forced to adopt remote and hybrid work models. Now, more than two years in, many companies are ready to return to the office – but many workers are not.

In fact, a recent survey found that only three percent of knowledge workers want to return to offices five days per week. And with the Great Resignation in full swing, employers are wise to accommodate their workers’ wishes – especially because embracing remote work means they can recruit talent from a much broader pool.

Still, becoming a remote-first org isn’t easy. At TXI, we’ve taken the same product innovation approach to our transition that we use to develop innovative products for our clients. Here are four key lessons we’ve learned from our process – which actually started before March 2020.

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Social Justice in the Workplace: Learn More About TXI’s Justice Pillars

At TXI, we structure our DEIB work around four justice pillars: racial justice, environmental justice, disability justice, and gender justice.

But what exactly is a justice pillar? And how does this framework help us work toward our goal of improving organizational diversity?

Equity Officer Lloyd Philbrook and Community Engagement Chair Kara Carrell recently shared how the idea of justice pillars came about and what rituals they lead around each of them.

“One of the points of having these pillars for our organization is to give us the scaffolding we need to think about different areas of social justice on a regular basis and own this work in the long term,” Lloyd said. “This isn’t just a quarterly endeavor; it’s something we’ll do year-over-year to grow our capacity.”

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How we stay connected in a distributed environment

In the second year of this pandemic, I’ve thought a lot about connection, especially as TXI made the decision to let go of our Chicago headquarters and permanently move to a fully distributed model.

When people ask how TXI stays connected as a company, I think back to the four guiding questions that the leadership team has asked itself repeatedly since spring of 2020 and asked repeatedly over the past year:

  1. How can we address our team’s anxieties directly?
  2. How can we improve communication and transparency within our distributed team?
  3. How can we listen and better understand what's going on within the company?
  4. And then, how can we provide time for spontaneity and connections?

While it may be tempting to jump to the fourth question on this list and schedule a new series of Zoom happy hours, the order in which you address these questions is important. Unless you address your team’s underlying anxieties about the state of the business––and therefore their jobs––your odds of achieving trusting and honest communications as an organization is low.

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Restructuring your organization? Treat your company like a product

In August, TXI launched phase one of a redesign of our internal structure and growth path with two major changes: a flexible career grid and a manager-supported organization. Ellen Brast, Talent Experience Lead, and Claire Podulka, Chief Delivery Officer, share their approach to organizational change at TXI.

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Approaching environmental justice at work and in life

As part of our ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) efforts, each quarter, we select a focus area for discussion and action. For Q4 2021, the theme is environmental justice.

While we’ve had an employee interest group around environmentalism at TXI since late 2018, this quarter has been an opportunity to build off of conversations that started with our Green Team, expand this discussion across the company and turn our ideas into actions.

In adopting a focus on environmental justice, we’re not just talking about climate change or waste management. We’re asking how TXI as an organization and as a group of individuals impacts the environment and how these impacts intersect with questions of race, class, gender, etc.

Today interim chief equity officer Lloyd Philbrook and project manager of the Green Team Hannah Green are leading this initiative.

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I don’t care where you went to school

I care a lot about hiring the right people to join TXI. But I think our version of “right” differs from other companies.

First off, I don’t care what university you went to. Or if you went to university. You can just leave that part off your resume and I will never notice.

What university you went to tells me a couple of things: 1) How well you can answer standardized test questions that research has shown to be biased toward over-represented groups and 2) How much money your family was able to spend for your higher education and/or how indebted you were willing to become for the same experience.

What university you went to tells me nothing about your skills, your curiosity, your passion, your openness to new ideas, your kindness, your dedication, or anything that I vet for when hiring. 

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Why we’re engaging with counter-narratives

In June 2021, the TXI team partnered with InterAction, a Chicago-based educational nonprofit organization, for workshops on both racial justice and counter-narratives as part of our ongoing efforts to become an anti-racist organization.

Our global, national and personal histories are often dominated by narratives that serve the interests of white supremacy and hetero-patriarchy. As InterAction defines them, counter-narratives center “stories told by marginalized people to unearth and disrupt power and reveal collective experiences of oppression.” These narratives provide “a message [or] way forward” from systems of oppression, but they can be difficult for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) to access.

In this article, we’ll explain why we decided to invest time and resources into a counter-narrative workshop. We’re sharing in the hopes that understanding our motivations for doing this work will help other organizations empower their BIPOC employees to tap into and tell their own counter-narrative stories.

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Client work & TXI’s commitment to justice

While much of TXI’s work toward improving our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) has to date focused on internal practices, we’ve also been privileged to work with clients whose missions align with ours.

These projects let us not only support work we believe in deeply but also expand our knowledge and understanding that we can apply in all our client work to help ensure that every project we take on helps to improve equity, access, inclusion and belonging. In this piece, we highlight work with three mission-driven clients and how it has informed and expanded our DEIB efforts.

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