What Can We Learn From Buffer?

Building a transparent organization

July 1, 2015
What can higher education learn from Buffer?

I've been using Buffer since 2012. During that time, I've picked up on bits and pieces of the "corporate" culture at Buffer and I think there are few things that higher education could learn or adopt from their distributed organization*. And, while this post isn't necessarily about their social media product, I will say that it's quite useful for social media content sharing, scheduling, and measurement.

What can higher education learn from Buffer?

Transparency is difficult for organizations that aren't willing to expose their reality. Buffer wants to build a more inclusive company. As part of their commitment to being open (and more diverse), they have released a "Buffer Diversity Dashboard" that lets you pick apart the demographic diversity of the organization. The difference between the current Buffer Team and people who have applied for jobs at Buffer is quite striking. The current team is mostly made up of white men between the ages of 25 and 34. However, the applicant pool (for those who have chosen to disclose their info on the dashboard) is much more diverse. Kudos to Buffer for literally showing who they are and who they want to be.

The Buffer Culture - Powered by Happiness

A lot of organizations have mission statements. However, how many have a statement that leads and guides their working culture? Higher education institutions are made up of a variety of departments that have their own operational culture. What could your organization learn from Buffer's set of values?

Using technology to connect with colleagues

Buffer has employees located all over the world and they use a combination of tech tools to keep in contact. While most higher education institutions offer positions "on-campus," there are still benefits from using systems/tactics that are similar to the way that distributed companies work. For example, Buffer uses HipChat for team communications. Are you using a team communications platform at your institution? I've heard via the social media grapevine that Slack is gaining ground at some universities.

The story of Buffer is evolving

Change is constant and consistent. What Buffer does as a service is quite simple. What they do from an organizational leadership/culture standpoint must be quite the challenge. I don't know about you, but I look forward to seeing what Buffer's CEO Joel Gascoigne and company create as they continue to grow their transparent organization.

Buffer's philosophy is based on a "commitment to culture and customers." Can you say the same about your organization/institution? Are you committed to creating a transparent, student-focused culture at your university?

*Automattic is another successful distributed organization that has lessons for higher education.


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