Lab Notes

GoKart Labs Selected as a “Best Place to Work”

It’s been a breakthrough year at GoKart.

We’ve added 24 skilled jobs, become a Fast 50 company, brought our newest startup to life, and helped drive innovation at leading healthcare, education, and retail companies.

Now, we’re thrilled to announce our inclusion as one the “Best Places to Work” in Minnesota.

We’re humbled by all this, and it merits a look back at how we’ve focused on culture from the beginning.

 

Don Smithmier, Co-Founder: A Great Culture is Intentional

In our business, talent isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

At GoKart Labs, we are constantly seeking — and will only hire — the very best talent in the digital space. As you might guess, the people possessing that kind of talent have abundant choices when it comes to employers.

From the beginning, A.J. Meyer and I understood this and have tried to be very purposeful in building a place where the best talent wants to work.

For the most part, our approach has been really simple: hire great people, give them interesting and meaningful stuff to work on (i.e., be selective on projects and clients), and try to stay out of their way.

Oh, and one more thing: LISTEN. And that’s where the hard work really begins.

For me, the Best Places to Work survey has never been about the award, but the listening.

As soon as we get the survey results each year, I block several hours on my calendar to pour over them in detail. Where did we improve? Where did we slip? And what trends are we seeing over the years?

Next, our entire leadership team reviews the results and discusses them in detail. Action plans follow and are built into our annual and quarterly priorities. It’s an ongoing, disciplined approach and it is oh-so-rewarding when we see the efforts paying off.

Culture can’t be faked or forced, but it can be protected and strengthened.

For us, that goal is truly Job One.

 

GoKart Labs Office

A.J. Meyer, Co-Founder: Keeping GoKart Creative

Creating GoKart Labs’ culture of fearless exploration, purposeful innovation, balance, high standards, ownership and clarity didn’t happen by accident.

As founders, Don and I knew that we had the opportunity to create an incredibly effective and talented team at a time when there was a craving for something different.

From the beginning we’ve been careful to hire the very best people – not just the most talented, but also those who are curious, kind, fun, super smart…and even a little bit weird.

We make it a point to consistently practice what we do. Outside of our client work and product launches, we set aside entire days to ‘play’ at something we call The GoKart 600. There we invent, design, and build a new business in 600 minutes with a budget of $600.

All told, GoKart makes for a fantastic place to grow and evolve.

 

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Jim Cuene, President: Creating Culture is Everyone’s Job

I’ve been very fortunate to be at GoKart for about 18 months and since day 1 it’s been clear that culture at GoKart isn’t a team or a committee. It’s everyone’s job, every day and in every interaction.

As a leader in a business, it’s easy to get focused on the business realities: the revenue, the costs, the clients, the overall economy.

But I’m learning that a critical part – perhaps the most critical part – of my job is to be vigilant about not letting our culture get away from us. I’m learning how I have to live it each day myself and help those around me live it, too.

As our organization gets bigger, as we get busier we’re at risk of letting mediocrity creep in. We always have to ask: Are we letting things (plans, communications, deliverables) stay too fuzzy or could we push for even more clarity?

Did we do what we said we were going to do for our clients or for my teammates? Are we willing to try new things and figure out new ways to make them turn out great?

It’s hard to keep our standards, but fortunately we’ve got a couple things working in our favor: A clear culture code, trust between our team that we’re looking out for each other’s best interests, and a real commitment across the team to help each other get better.

We’re never going to be a perfect place to work, but we’re deeply, deeply committed to being one of the best.

 

GoKart is a digital invention lab. To learn more about our services, contact us here: [email protected]