We’re a Sports Team, Not a Family

January 24, 2023
The DX Team
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You’ve probably heard countless employers describe their employees and coworkers as “like a family.” They typically say this with the best of intentions. The phrase is meant to invoke warm feelings of love, support, and caring for one another in the workplace.

There are more than a few problems with that description, however.

Families, of course, can be dysfunctional. They also involve different levels of accountability (parents are supposed to be more accountable than children usually are); for many people, their familial bonds are not as tight as the relationships they develop outside of their family. And while most people would love to work in one wonderful place for their entire careers, few of us will spend as much time in one job or career as we will “work” in our familial roles. Finally, we’ve all probably seen instances where real-life family bonds don’t translate well to working together professionally – and business breakups, no matter how brutal, are usually not as harsh as breakups within a family unit.

In other words, you may not want your workplace to operate like a family in every sense of the term. And while DX brought its entire global workforce together for an unforgettable bond-building in-person summit in 2022 (which will become an annual DX tradition), we don’t think of our DX workforce as a family.

Instead, we think of DX as a well-managed, elite-level sports team.

How DX Takes the Field

Of course, that mentality may have a little something to do with our Norwegian roots. Some of our colleagues, like Oddvar Jenssen, Head of Business Development and Ygne Sandvik, Support Engineer, are diehard fans of the Norway national football team and travel all over the country to show their support. Bard Karstensen, Head of Operations and Customer Success, is on a football team in Bodø and is proud to show his children that you can still be selected for a regional team when you’re older. Bard, Christian Sakshaug, CTO, and Orjan Eilersten, Head of Data and Insights, are also football coaches, and all also play regularly. In short, many of our team members love sports almost as much as they love redefining the future of the cinema industry.

That’s why it isn’t surprising that we approach working at DX with a sports-minded approach. For a sports team to operate properly, all the athletes must be accountable to each other. The teammates change their diets, train harder, and solve disagreements before taking the field because they know they have to deliver their best on gameday to succeed. That is how our teammates at DX approach developing and problem-solving – by bringing their best abilities to every project.

In addition, sports teams make decisions based on data – who makes the team, who plays when, and who needs time to recover. Decisions must be made quickly because the game clock is ticking down. Likewise, DX is driven by data, not by emotional familial bonds. We understand our teammates have strengths in many different areas, like how athletes play at different positions. It takes brilliant players at each position to field a great team, and we’ve found our key players in the global workforce.

A great example of this sports team-minded approach occurred when Erlend Valle, Head of Product, presented the management team with three areas of focus that needed to be prioritized in order to properly build our cloud-based product’s objectives with his team on the same page:

  1. Monetization (i.e., making money)
  2. Growth (i.e., growing our customer portfolio)
  3. Customer Experience

As a management team, we had some misalignment on what we felt should be the order of the priorities based on our own areas of expertise. In the end, we held a “team vote.” While the vote went a different direction than what Erlend himself had prioritized, he adopted the outcome of the vote and we moved on to the next order of business.

In contrast, a family would have probably argued their points back and forth non-stop until someone gave in – which renders a solution, but not necessarily the right one for the team.

How DX Scores Goals Together

We believe that this sports team mindset is better for our team, better for our partners, and better for our customers.

It also comes down to loyalty. Many of our customers have been with DX for decades, even if they have different philosophies in how they run their cinemas. Sports fandom is built entirely on loyalty – and we still manage to get along together even though Christian is a longtime supporter of Chelsea, while Orjan is a United supporter.

Our DX team cares about one another and each one of us has a deep respect for what we each bring to the company, but we realize we are here to help our cinemas win the future of the industry.

Perhaps we should consider donning matching DX-branded jerseys for our next company summit!

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