If you were to ask me what Dimensional Insight’s greatest strengths are, our culture would definitely top that list. It’s our shared values—teamwork, collaboration, hard work, respect for others – that unites us as a company. It’s interesting then, that our culture differences are also a strength. Our diversity in backgrounds, skills, and perspectives opens our eyes to new ways of thinking and looking at issues.
I recently experienced this culture—the shared bonds and the differences—when I traveled to our European headquarters in Leiden, Netherlands, to meet with many of our Diver distributors across Europe. We had a great day talking about Diver, messaging, and marketing. Here are some highlights from my trip.
Excitement around the product and company
Our meeting kicked off with a presentation by our CEO, Fred Powers, to talk about our Diver Platform, data management and business intelligence capabilities, and Measure Factory. It was great to see everyone excited about our product development and company direction.
Next, I held a messaging session to talk about the strengths of our product and the strengths of our company. I wasn’t quite sure how successful this would be given that many of our distributors specialize in different markets in different countries. We broke out into small teams for some parts of the session, worked independently for other parts, and came together to discuss as a group.
What struck me most about this exercise? I found that despite our differences in geography and target markets, we all generally seemed to agree when it came to defining our product and organization strengths. I credit that to our company building a strong technology and a strong work culture.
The rest of our day featured discussions around marketing – what’s worked and what hasn’t worked – and how we can learn from and share with each other moving forward. For me, one of the great benefits of this meeting was that I was able to meet so many people in person for the first time whom I had only spoken to via email or phone before.
A tour of Leiden
During our lunch break, we had a quick tour of the city of Leiden. Leiden, which is 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam and has a population of about 125,000, is home to the Netherlands’ oldest university (Leiden University) and it boasts an interesting connection to the United States – and Massachusetts, in particular. Back in the early 1600’s, the Pilgrims (who later landed on Plymouth Rock) spent more than a decade in Leiden before boarding the Mayflower for the New World. In fact, many believe the first Thanksgiving was inspired by an annual festival in Leiden to celebrate the end of the Spanish siege in 1574.
The Dimensional Insight Netherlands office itself is housed in a historical building dating back to the 16th century. The building was home to the first water board of the Netherlands. Large parts of the Netherlands are located below sea level and the water board is a unique form of local government that keeps the Netherlands dry through an ingenious system of dikes, locks, and other water works. As a matter of fact, large parts of the Netherlands would be flooded within weeks if water boards stopped working!
Going to the office is a bit like visiting a museum with its large oil paintings, ornate decorations, and old books. In fact, during our meeting, we were disrupted by movers bringing back a sculpture of Princess Beatrix (mother of the current King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander), which had been loaned out to a museum.
A few more interesting facts about Leiden:
- The Dutch painter Rembrandt was born in Leiden and lived and studied there until he moved to Amsterdam in his mid-20’s.
- Albert Einstein spent time at Leiden University in the early 1900’s.
- THE BIKES. Talk about a big cultural difference – the streets of Leiden were filled with bikes instead of cars, and everywhere you went there were rows and rows of bikes outside of restaurants and shops. And no one wore helmets! This was definitely one aspect of my trip I will never forget.
Touring Amsterdam, Delft, and The Hague
After our visit to Leiden, my colleague, Priscilla Ballaro, and I spent the weekend touring other parts of the Netherlands. We first visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which was incredibly moving. I read Anne Frank’s diary when I was younger, but it was powerful to be able to walk throughout the secret annex where she spent time in hiding.
In addition, we took a tour of the Royal Delft pottery factory in Delft, which is about 40 miles southwest of Amsterdam. There we saw how they make and hand paint all the pottery they sell. Fun fact: Delft was home to the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer – a painter I recently learned a lot about through reading the book “Chasing Vermeer” with my kids.
We also visited The Hague, which although not the capital of the Netherlands, does house all of the country’s government agencies. Among the highlights in The Hague: seeing the Peace Palace, various embassies, and Madurodam, which has many of the famous sights of the Netherlands in miniature.
All in all, this trip to the Netherlands was enjoyable on both a professional and a personal level. It was great to talk about Diver and Dimensional Insight with others so passionate about their work, as well as develop new connections with our European distributors. In addition, this was my first trip to Amsterdam and Leiden, and I will definitely want to revisit someday.
I also hope to bring you profiles of some of our other Dimensional Insight offices on the blog, to talk about each of their unique cultures and the ways they contribute to Dimensional Insight as a whole.