An Inside Look on Life as an Inkblot: Inkling’s 2016 Summer Picnic

Inkling is made up of amazing Inkblots. Each year we hold a company-wide picnic, with activities thoughtfully designed to stretch our understanding of one another beyond the daily office dynamic. This year, we took the old-fashioned notion of a company picnic and really brought it to life. Our goal wasn’t to merely bring the whole team together in an engaging setting, outside of the workplace. We wanted to curate a highly meaningful and memorable event, so we personalized every aspect of the day to align with our cultural values. One of those core values is “Grit,” and there was no shortage of it throughout the day!

You want it? We got it!

Inkling Culture

We opened the invitation to friends and family, so we could get to know those special connections that help shape Inkblots into who they are. We sought out ideas as part of the planning process, and did our best to deliver those experiences as surprises. One employee asked for frisbees, so we branded 100 of them and gave them away as favors. Another asked for disposable cameras. We tossed them out to the crowd at the end of the opening statements. We inserted announcements in the timelines as touch points to encourage people to stay for the whole event and moving through the experience together. We created feel-good opportunities with giveaways and light-hearted competition like our Did-You-Knows and pie bake-off. We designed every activity to be oriented around bringing our people together, from being literally tied together in a three-legged race, to learning alongside one another as they figured out how to macrame, to sitting in a circle engrossed in conversations about each other at the Recharge and Reconnect lounge.

Our background is in learning and education, so we knew we wanted a hands-on element to the event. We hosted two workshops Maker-Club-style, bringing Inkblots together around creative projects that gave us a chance to learn something new and at the same time, learn about one another. At one table, we had Harper, our office administrator, teach us how to make a macrame wall hanging. She taught herself (thanks Parlor/YouTube!), and then created visual instructions and purchased all the materials for us to try our own hand at fancy knotting! At the same time, the table across the way had Scott Renner teaching us a bit about screen printing, and throughout the day we each had a chance to screen print our own tote bag. For many of us, it was our first time ever getting a chance to do something like that, and it created such engaging and memorable DIY “firsts”!

Seeing each other in a new light

Life as an Inkblot

We knew this would be a great day being outdoors and sharing another side of ourselves with colleagues. We’re so used to creating meetings on the calendar with agendas and goals, but sometimes we need a little help to take off our work hats to start different kinds of conversations and create new types of relationships. We enlisted a professional to help us do just that. Kiki Federico is a leadership coach and a natural gatherer of people. She curated a space at the picnic and fostered authentic conversations by simply having us complete the sentence, “I am a person who….” The depth of those conversations had the potential to open eyes in a way that isn’t so common in today’s workplace.

From beginning to end, everything about the day was intentional. Nonetheless, we were still met with a few surprises. For example, the morning of the event, our coordinator told us that the sprinklers were on full blast and the whole field was flooded. We feared we would need to move the whole picnic along with all of our guests and vendor deliveries to a new location. Luckily, like the nursery rhyme goes, up came the sun and dried up all the rain. We didn’t anticipate the watermelon-eating contest to be so entertaining, revealing some hardcore competitors at Inkling (#9values #grit #fierce)! We also didn’t expect no one wanting to leave the park even as our vendors were packing up at the end of the day. What’s that saying? Who knows where it could lead if you leave a little room for the unexpected…

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We have a couple of open positions! If you love what you read and want to experience first-hand what it’s like to be an Inkblot, check out our open positions and apply on our careers page!

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