Beer at Work: the Wildcard Tradition
Part of what we pride ourselves on as Wildcard Corp. is being able to work highly collaboratively as a team of experts at all rungs of the corporate ladder, even though many of us work remotely from across the country every day. Being able to do this successfully certainly isn’t easy, and in fact it’s often a struggle. One of the ways we try to overcome this struggle is to bring everyone together once a month for a special event where we can all work in the same room. Everyone at Wildcard knows this day as Krausening.
Where Does the Name Come From?
Krausening (or Kräusening if we’re being particular) is a process of secondary fermentation in brewing that creates carbonation and rounds off the beer’s flavoring. The term comes from “Krause” and “kräuseln,” the German words for “ruffle” and “to ruffle.” Supposedly, the word krausening was originally used as creative language, because the foamy head of the beer resembled the frilly lace ruffles on the clothing of the time. We never looked into the details too much, but that certainly is a good story.
As you may know, Wildcard Corp. is a major contributor to the Plone content management system community. The Plone community is international, including many beer-centric European countries. It’s well-established that part of the Plone community's culture is the enjoyment of beer, and we have adopted the tradition as part of our own company culture as well. In truth, it’s pretty easy to get away with that being a Wisconsin-based company and all. We have even brewed and bottled our own Wildcard beer.
The word Krausening means something a little different to us though. For us it simply means a gathering. For programming, brainstorming, having fun, and drinking beer (responsibly). It’s a time for our company culture to really shine through and for us to really grow as a team.
Wildcard Growler Label:
Initial Sketch of Wildcard Beer Label:
Final Beer Label Design:
* Wildcard beer labels and T-shirt designed in-house by Graphic Designer Beth Jolin. Beer brewed by Business Development Manager Craig Haydock. Both are individuals of many talents.
What Happens at a Krausening?
Ordinarily, we save huge projects for Krausenings that could really benefit from having all of us in one room banging our heads together. Once, for example, we made really drastic changes to our website, updating the content on almost every page. We sat around our conference table, squished like sardines, talking about what we could do to improve the content. Even those of us who work across the country and weren’t able to fly to headquarters were set up in a teleconference with us all day. We ended the day with three new heading tabs on our website, and several pages of new content.
Another Krausening was devoted to developing our marketing plans. Shortly before this particular gathering, we added a number of new employees to the staff, so if we had felt like sardines before, this was entirely something else. We had to improvise an additional conference table out of a sheet of raw plywood and sawhorses. There were so many people in our conference room that day, I almost expected it to burst, sending a bunch of website nerds floating down the street in a shallow river of beer froth. But it didn’t, and we got a lot of good work done.
Toward the end of our Krausening events, we go out for drinks as a company, largely to unwind and also to provide a last burst of creativity before we are all burned out for the night. I like to say, “Creativity brews good beer, and good beer brews creativity.”
What’s Next for Krausening?
Just this last week, we did a company golf outing as a Krausening. It was different from past events in that we weren't all sitting in front of computer screens all day. Instead we mainly tried to relax and have fun, but it was also used to brainstorm ideas for an upcoming software release to be announced later this year. So stay tuned for more information on that.
Since the company is growing so quickly, we expect most of our future Krausenings to be like this one. It's just getting too hard to fit everyone in one room. We have been talking about doing Krausenings by department, or instead of working on a single project as a group, we might do something like TED talks targeted at our new hires to show everyone how to use the software that we sell. You’ll hear more details when we actually decide what we want to do.