Table XI Blog

Product Delivery

How Integrated Teams Build More Inclusive Outcomes

When you look at the research on how integrated and diverse teams consistently outperform their homogenous counterparts, the finding seems obvious: of course bringing more perspectives to problems is a better way to solve them.

This is why Agile development incorporates feedback from people in both technical and business roles. It’s why design thinking weaves in ideas and perspectives from not just across an organization but also its user base.

These practices are valuable, but the diversity of perspectives Agile and design thinking teams gather is often limited because those teams tend to be largely culturally and racially homogenous.

At TXI, as we continue to practice the principles for working differently in our design-thinking-led product development, we’re addressing this deficit by deliberately building teams whose members come from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Here’s a look at why and how we’re doing this work.

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Career growth and development at TXI

Before I joined TXI about five years ago, I’d spent most of my career in education. I care deeply about learning and growth opportunities, and there’s a large body of research that indicates that personalized learning with qualified educators leads to better outcomes. So when I decided to make some significant enhancements to how TXI supports its people, I knew I wanted to incorporate those two elements: diverse growth paths for individuals to choose from, no matter their starting point, and expert training for the managers who would be supporting them on those paths. 

Before this effort, TXI had a linear level model--effectively, a “ladder”. There was one way to grow, straight up a predetermined path. The structure implied that all people at the same level needed to focus on the same kinds of work, deliver the same kinds of value--that they were all, in a sense, the same. It wasn’t true, of course, but it did impact people’s reality: it was how we set expectations, evaluate outcomes, and define titles and compensation. 

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Things we say at TXI

Does your organization have its own lingo? I’m thinking of words or phrases that are almost immediately associated with a particular person, team, or practice. Having worked at TXI for 2+ years, I’ve been reflecting on how our organization speaks to and with each other and why those personalized sayings become the glue that keeps our organization strong.

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4 benefits of moving from a flat to a manager-supported organization

Every company has its stories, the ones that are first shared during onboarding and form the building blocks of what an organization values. For Table XI, part of that story was a literal table, a scratched-up old wooden one that seated six, taken from our founder Josh Golden’s old apartment. In early days, TXIers would sit around that table with wine and Thai food after hours, hashing out company goals and decisions collectively.

Of course, as the company grew, there were points where we needed different structures to help us get where we wanted to go. We adopted EOS to guide company goals and priorities, grew the leadership team to encompass more roles and points of view, and organized our practices and practitioners in different ways. But one thing held true for 19 years: TXI, like that old wood table, was flat. 

Flatness seemed to work for TXI for a while. When the company was just a couple dozen people, most from similar backgrounds and levels of privilege, and everyone knew one another well and worked from a central office in Chicago, the idea of creating a hierarchy felt artificial and unnecessary. It felt more like a burden or a barrier than support. But by the time I joined the leadership team two years ago, I had a hunch that flat wasn’t working as well as it needed to anymore. 

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There Really Should be an ‘I’ in Team: The Team Agreement

Many of us have navigated our professional lives while being told there’s no “I” in team. I’d like to make the case for the opposite: it’s only after we explicitly recognize and name our individual preferences, communication styles, and goals, that we’re truly capable of being contributing team members. At TXI, this is part of our overall DEIB efforts and we bake this in from the start by kicking off all engagements with a Team Agreement.

Interested in creating your own version of a Team Agreement? Here are a few things to consider. 

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Normalizing Hybrid Work

Hybrid work, the ability to work remotely or in-person on a flexible basis, was not born from the current pandemic. Many people have been managing this balancing act for years. However, it is new to many organizations, and many were ill-equipped to make the change.  

According to a recent survey, major cities like Boston, San Francisco and Chicago believe hybrid work is here to stay. Otherwise known as “the future of work,” 83% of workers want to remain hybrid even after the pandemic is over. However, this may not be the case for those required to do their jobs in person with colleagues or equipment.  

How do organizations today solve for retaining employees who wish to remain hybrid, attract new candidates who see this “benefit” as table stakes, and set each of them up to succeed? 

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How to survive Zoom fatigue and thrive: A checklist for better meetings

Each time I see an article implying that “Zoom fatigue” is a reason why meetings are draining our last drop of energy, I trap another repressed sigh inside my head. Yes, I get it; meeting on Zoom all day probably isn’t making it to the top of anyone’s bucket list. But let’s not blame our tools, friends. Zoom is a powerful means to connect us, and I think our meeting fatigue may be driven in part by simply over-indexing on a single default method of communication.

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Suite 670
Chicago, IL 60661


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