Designing an atmosphere


Permeation of creative culture

To invigorate the organization and enable its members to actively engage with their work, it is essential to create a positive atmosphere that fosters sustainable creativity. This is what Hamee, a middle venture company with just under 400 employees, set out to achieve. Despite its successful IPO in 2016 and its current presence in Korea, the US, and China through its subsidiaries, the founder, Atsushi Higuchi, was concerned about the motivation of each individual employee and the overall atmosphere of the company.
How can we instill a culture that celebrates innovative challenges, encourage employees to act autonomously, and transform ourselves into an organization that continues to create new value?
The embodiment of the company's culture became ambassadors and implemented initiatives to energize the workplace. This was accomplished by taking both a bottom-up and top-down approach.
Searing the team's true intentions

He stated, “The company’s atmosphere is stagnant. I want to create an environment where everyone can see the company’s future clearly and run at full speed.” From this concern, a project was initiated.

The first step was conducting interviews with employees. Over several days, team members from various departments and positions were individually interviewed. As a result, the project team discovered a gap in the perception of the company’s vision between the core members of management and the staff-level employees.

While Hamee had attempted to reform its culture before, all of its methods were more top-down in approach. The team realized that this approach may have been contributing to the perception gap and began exploring the design of bottom-up cultural change.

First, the team thoroughly considered what it meant to create a bottom-up culture. It was then decided that KESIKI would lead in creating the values and rituals (mechanisms and habits for cultivating culture) and that the project would be led by staff members recruited as “culture ambassadors” for Hamee, rather than working directly with management.

They then recruited potential members who could be at the core of the change within Hamee and held a four-week workshop. These members were tasked with developing their own rituals and finding ways to implement them with the help of colleagues within the company. The aim was to have them become ambassadors of these rituals themselves and to spread the initiative throughout the company.

Creating ownership

During the workshop, ambassadors formed teams and move from idea generation for potential rituals to prototype creation.

The most important thing for us to do was creating an environment where Hamee employees would take ownership. The Hamee team took charge of the facilitation of the workshop, while the KESIKI team worked behind the scenes on scenario creation and follow-up. We thought it was essential to have ambassadors feel that they were speaking in their own words and moving projects forward themselves to feel a sense of ownership.

As they continued to experiment together, the atmosphere of the ambassador team became more animated, and positive energy encouraged the creation of teams that involved other outside members and some teams began producing their own culture creation prototypes.

Articulating the ideal leadership image

However, no matter how wonderful a prototype is, it cannot be effectively implemented as a company-wide initiative without the cooperation of management. Otherwise, the idea will go to waste. The challenge was to give credibility to initiatives that are difficult to produce as short-term corporate performance.

Therefore, in addition to the bottom-up project, KESIKI held a session for management members, naming leadership that draws out the team’s potential “creative leadership” and articulating guidelines for action for change such as “Start with greetings and a smile” and “Talk about your background.”

Management members who make decisions and ambassadors who promote the bottom-up approach. By approaching from these two directions, an environment was created for the culture to permeate internally.

Toward self-propagating agents of change

Even after the project ended, the ambassadors continued to work on their own initiatives. One of the prototypes, the culture timeline, was implemented on the internal portal page.

The ambassadors recruited for the second phase started operating as an official Note editor for internal culture. Based on KESIKI’s storytelling lectures and workshops, they spent about three months digging up “Hamee-ness” before preparing for the launch of the media. Currently, the PR members are taking the lead and self-propagating, producing, and disseminating owned content with the same level of quality as web media.



It seems that several former Hamee employees who quit their job contacted the company saying that they wanted to work for Hamee again after the CEO started using Note to publicize their culture. This was the moment when the CEO felt confident that they were able to change the “atmosphere” surrounding the organization, rather than just playing at “cultural dress-up” without any real sense of achievement.

For more detailed project story (in Japanese)