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An Expanding Trend in Corporate Culture

If you have ever had the opportunity of visiting the Google campus in Mountain View, CA, then you know what an outrageously amazing place it is to work. Within this bustling business culture, employees can bring their dog to work, enjoy a delicious gourmet meal in the cafeteria, and ride one of the brightly colored company bikes from one end of the campus to the other. And these few examples of life on campus are just the tip of the iceberg. Clearly this is a nurtured atmosphere designed to appreciate the people who make Google what it is. It is a precise example of a community deeply entrenched in the concept of Ubuntu.

We talk a lot about the essence of Ubuntu within Drum Cafe. It is an essential rudiment of the experience that we create in all of our events. Wikipedia defines Ubuntu as an African ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other. It is literally translated from its Zulu origins as “I Am because You Are.Ubuntu is really a natural human need for identity based on one’s valued contribution to a community. When an organization taps into the pulse of Ubuntu, and encourages that rhythm to be felt throughout the company by each individual for what they bring to the table, they ignite the total potential for brilliance not just within the people, but for the ultimate success of the business as a whole.

When Drum Cafe had the opportunity to create a series of events for Google team members recently, the spirit of Ubuntu was undeniable and felt throughout each program we presented. Everyone had come together to make music, following a single pulse; immersed in the heartbeat of one community with a common goal. They clearly recognized through the dynamics of the Drum Cafe program that the orchestra they created relied upon their ability to not only hear their individual music, but the music of the people around them as well, coming together in a single symphony.

Google has an indisputable success level that is globally evident. But they are not the only organization to hop on the happy train of Ubuntu. There are dozens of companies that maintain a high level of achievement throughout the ups and downs of troubled corporate and economic climates. It is not really about company perks, but about how a business acknowledges the people who share their skills, doing the work day in and day out. Could the unity-inspiring aspect of Ubuntu be the secret to indubitable organizational victory? Is this an up and coming trend in corporate culture that deserves attention? Certainly the value of any community, business and organization is comprised of its people and the value they posses. But when each person recognizes that what they contribute is made valuable by the contrast of what everyone else is contributing, they understand the significance of the interconnectedness that creates true and lasting success.

The beauty of what we have weathered in recent turbulence experienced among many industries world-wide is that collaboration is borne out of conflict. Community is the cure for the disease of isolation. Ubuntu becomes the solution— We are Who We Are because of Those around Us. When companies employ the ideal of the whole being far greater than the sum of its parts, the dawn of a new level of success unfolds. The degree of awareness of interconnectedness within an organization depicts its ultimate potential.

Western and US societies have traditionally put a high value on the creed of individualism. However, Ubuntu does not conflict with self focus, in fact at the heart of this concept lies the wisdom that success is cultivated within first, then rises in its refinement and projects outward. Nelson Mandela’s explanation of Ubuntu demonstrates this truth: “Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?

As industrialized nations continue to embrace the essence of Ubuntu, global progress will continue to expand exponentially. In fact, a few noted “Westerners” have been quoted with references to Ubuntu. Theodore Roosevelt alluded to the underlying principle of Ubuntu in a speech in 1903: “The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us.” Also notable is 2008 NBA champions, The Boston Celtics have chanted “Ubuntu” when breaking a huddle since the start of the 2007–2008 season. Equally deserving mention is an emergent UK based software company, Canonical Ltd., which has created a growingly popular Linux-based, open sourced operating system named appropriately “Ubuntu.” Clearly this concept is spreading like wildfire at a most important time of global transition.

So yes, at Drum Cafe, we have a passion for Ubuntu and we will continue to ignite the powerful strength of Ubuntu within each organization we facilitate. This is why people walk away from our events transformed, uplifted and wholly connected to their team mates as one community. They have been touched by the profound force of unity through the universal language of rhythm, which is utterly exhilarating!

Do you feel united within your workplace or disconnected? Have you felt inspired by the concept of Ubuntu and the power of your talents working in synchronicity with what others share? What are your thoughts on the evolution of corporate culture?

Until the next time we connect, heartbeat to heartbeat, create your own wave of rhythm that rocks the world around you!


In Joy and Rhythm,

Natalie Spiro

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