Not too long ago, I was able to experience a kind of “time-warp” by visiting another company during their internal tech conference. As I listened to the history, I could easily draw similarities to my DevCon (developer conference) and EvCon (everybody conference) experience. Only what I was observing today was 5 years into the future in terms of size and potential. It was refreshing and motivating.
This got me thinking about the evolution of company tours – size and benefits, etc. When I’ve experimented with providing company tours, I started with local high school students. Afterwards, college classes or groups. I am now pondering what other benefits companies like Zappo’s achieve because of their tours. As of today, this is what I’ve experienced:
For those requesting the tour (in no particular order):
- Gain perspective. The grass can look or actually be greener elsewhere. You don’t have to change companies to figure that out. You can explore. You can observe. You can gain perspective on what could be better at your current company and what is better than you realized.
- From gaining perspective, often means gaining ideas. We took a tour of Menlo Innovations once and from that several ideas directly and several variations were experimented with. My personal favorite remains “walkies: at 3 every day people go for a walk and decide if they want to return”.
- Increase your network. People at companies willing to share are great sources of support, information, etc.
For those providing the tour (in no particular order):
- Giving back to the community is always a great thing. I’ve done tours for school classes to other companies. It’s helpful to people determine if computer science is their path to see what that would mean. It’s helpful to people consider your company to see what it means to work for your company.
- Opportunities, opportunities, opportunities: for people to grow in their ability to share/coordinate/engage/etc, for people to feel pride along with a desire to further improve, and for people to reinforce the values and behaviors desired!
- As you share, listen. People visiting may be inspired and will share their ideas of things you could do next.
- Increase your network. People at companies willing to share are great sources of support, information, etc
So why don’t tours happen more frequently? Cost. This takes up people’s time. But can we afford to miss out on these benefits? Or the benefits I’ve yet to even experience 🙂
What benefits have you received from giving or taking a company tour?