The values of Widen Enterprises are posted in the company’s lobby and the subtitle of one of them is “irrational optimism welcomed.”
“I think there’s a prevailing attitude of optimism,” said Matthew Gonnering, the firm’s chief executive officer. “It’s can-do spirit.”
And that spirit, Gonnering said, traces its roots to Widen’s commitment to be a freedom-centered workplace, which uses principles of organizational democracy. The firm has been certified for its freedom-centered culture for five consecutive years.
“It is the freedom you have to explore new things, to leverage the talents, the skills and frankly, the God-given gifts you have to contribute,” said Gonnering. “We are going to win because of the people being given the ability to apply the very best of their skills to meet a market need.”
Widen builds a digital asset management software platform that spans brand management, content lifecycle management and creative management, and serves more than 600 influential brands, from LG and Energizer to Cornell University and the Atlanta Falcons. Its headquarters is in Madison and it has a small London office, as well.
Internal communication is a signature of the freedom-centered workplace. Every quarter, teams set objectives and work toward them by using objective key results. They see how their goals track with annual company objectives, its five-year strategy and its 15-year vision.
Widen leadership has weekly stand-up meetings with employees, plus quarterly meetings at which Gonnering takes questions from staff. “Sometimes the update is financial,” said Gonnering. “Sometimes it’s a great customer story or a lesson learned, a failure, a story about how someone spent a lot of money and what we learned from it.”
In addition to its culture, Widen offers a range of unconventional benefits: popcorn delivered to employees’ desks on demand and a $5,000 annual prize given to a Widen employee, nominated by peers and voted on by leadership, who exemplifies Widen values.