We talked to Daniel Ospina of Regenerative Teams about the Cultural Virus Test and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Daniel Ospina: Thankfully, ok, we’re actually communicating more than we used to. Largely because I’m less tangled attending events and giving talks.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Regenerative Teams.
Daniel Ospina: I started my career as a chef, later on working in a handful of Michelin restaurants. Eventually, my interest in innovation led me to join Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck Group. I joined a small team in charge of R&D and experience design for the group multiple business lines across FMCG, hospitality, consumer electronics and media. At first, it was a great experience, but as the newness wore off, I started to see how the bureaucracy and a heavily politicized culture was holding us back. I started obsessing over everything team culture and that sort of never stopped. Fast forward 8 years and talking about company culture has become more common, but most companies still struggle to address their issues, the darker sides, without blaming or shaming.
We decided to do something about it by helping people recognize patterns of behavior that get in the way of great teamwork. And that’s how our last product, The Culture Viruses Test, was born. It’s a free self-assessment tool to discover the 35 most common Cultural Viruses that can hold your team back from a healthier, more productive culture.
How does Regenerative Teams innovate?
Daniel Ospina: We strongly believe in merging ideas from the different fields over a long time. Cross-pollination is powerful, but if you only spend a bit of time on it, you’re likely to only come up with the same superficial ideas that everybody else. On the other hand, when you embrace deeper collaboration and immerse yourself for an extended period of time, you start to see possibilities others don’t. An example of this is how Nobel Prize winners have more references from other fields in their articles than the average person. We see this work as a long term investment that’s too important to postpone, and over time we have accumulated a great backlog of ideas. It’s one of those ideas that saved our business.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Daniel Ospina: We had to reinvent ourselves. Most of our work was face to face through workshops and advisory, but when the crisis started, we saw an opportunity to start developing digital tools and haven’t looked back since. Emotionally it’s been a rollercoaster, but from a business perspective, we’re now nimbler and have a more scalable solution to improve well-being and productivity in teams. It’s been an opportunity to ‘eat our own dog food’ when it comes to innovating as a team, so although it’s more stressful when it’s your income on the line, having a healthy culture allowed us to ride the wave.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Daniel Ospina: At the start of the crises, we tried to forecast what people would need six months from then. We were unlucky as so much changed during those first six months and, as a consequence, our first digital product flopped. It was a big loss for us during a difficult time, but the lesson stuck: keep your time horizon wide and develop products that solve a deep need and not just address passing panic.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Daniel Ospina: Daily meditation practice, but occasionally just shouting and punching the wall, ultimately it’s also about allowing myself to feel those emotions instead of repressing them. I’m also obsessive about improving our methods but less so about expecting fixed results. Some days you get ahead other days you have to take a step back, but the important thing is to keep learning. Regular retrospectives and an evening gratitude practice (sharing 3 things we’re grateful for) have been really helpful in achieving that.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Daniel Ospina: We’re competing with significantly larger organizations, with well-known products like Gallup’s Strenghtsfinder, DISC or MBTI. They’re big names, but precisely because of that they have forgotten what their customers really need. While their solution is based on the latest research of two decades ago, we invest heavily in developing ideas for what will come next. Because of that, we’re innovating with an entirely new category and knowing that our solution can offer 10x more impact for our customers and future proof their business.