Teamwork Leads to Exceptional Output

TeamworkThe importance of a dynamic team cannot be overstated as it pertains to a company’s overall success. Just look at companies that are doing well and you’ll see there is a direct correlation between the company’s success, and how employees feel about working there.

Iridia is on a mission to become one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, and on our journey we are constantly thinking about how we can do things better. One of the ways we do that is listening to our employees. In staff surveys in which we asked our staff to comment about the teamwork, the culture and what they like about working here – these are the things our employees said about the Iridia team:

  • Iridia is like family; I’ve been given a lot of support from everyone on the team since I started working here
  • The Iridia team is very hard-working and expectations of staff are high, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun – there are lots of opportunities for us to get together to celebrate achievements and kick back with each other
  • Iridia is about working together with my team to make a difference in the area of health care
  • The Iridia team is friendly and people seem genuinely happy to be there
  • Iridia challenges the status quo; we are a hard-working group that retains its entrepreneurial spirit which allows us to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace
  • Successes of the team are applauded and celebrated
  • I love the support and the teamwork at Iridia; I can speak honestly and feel heard; I’m supported when I need it
  • I love that people take the time to talk to one another – to make sure everything is going alright
  • What I love about Iridia is the freedom to do my job in a supported, respectful environment

We’re not perfect, but we are working hard every day to create the kind of culture where teamwork is acknowledged, nurtured, and celebrated. And our employees agree!

Social Responsibility is a Measure of Success

Social Responsibility

One could argue that social responsibility is one of the most important core values an organization can have. Indeed, in the values statement itself we state our belief that profitability cannot be our only measure of success.

We are incredibly privileged to live in a part of the world where most of us never see the kind of need that is experienced in much of the rest of the world. There is an old proverb that says, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” We have indeed been given much, and we believe it’s our responsibility to give back wherever we can.

Environmentally – We ensure we’re recycling and making the best use of our resources to minimize waste. We endeavour to be fiscally responsible and we share profits with our employees at the end of each year based on the company’s profitability.

Locally – Iridia allows every staff member three paid days per year to engaged in volunteer activities. We want our employees to be invested in their communities, and encourage the giving of their time to organizations that need their help. We give to local charities in the way of sponsorships and gifts during their fundraising campaigns.

Regionally – Recently, we have decided to support a BC-based organization or charity. We asked for staff participation in suggesting projects worthy of our support and then did a survey to determine which project people were most interested in getting involved with.

Internationally – For the first time this year, Iridia partnered with, an organization that facilitates giving micro loans to entrepreneurs in third-world countries. These loans enable them to start businesses that will move them out of poverty and allow them to support their families and build their local economies. We’re excited to see where these business people will be a year from now, and intend on continuing to support to these kinds of endeavours in the future.

There are lots of ways to measure success and Social Responsibility, and businesses who are leaders in the marketplace make sure they pay attention to all success factors. These activities keep us ground and grateful, and what could be more important than that?


Client Focus is at Our Core

Client focus

Client focus  is a big deal at Iridia. We’re always talking about them, thinking about them, and working hard for them – clients are at the forefront of everything we do. Not all of our staff are “client-facing,” in other words, we don’t all talk to or deal with clients on a daily basis, but we all know who we’re working for!

At our monthly staff meetings we report on each of our service areas, and without fail, those reports include how we are meeting our clients’ needs, or where we might need to develop new and creative ways to meet their needs.

Our founder, Dr. Allan Holmes, told the staff the story of how and why he started Iridia  17 years ago. It was to meet a need, and meeting client needs continues to be the heartbeat of Iridia today. Our philosophy of being responsive to client needs shows up in how we hire, how we focus our teams, and how we structure the company.



We want to be #1 in our clients’ eyes. We want their trust so that they keep doing business with us and speak well of us in the industry. Client focus takes hard work and we’re 100% committed to it.


What’s the Big Deal About Core Values Anyway?

“In an age of increasing global and local competition, the ability of an organization to build a culture that attracts and retains talented people is rapidly emerging as the most important criterion for financial success. Executives and employees are searching for organizations that will support them in their personal and professional growth. They want to work for companies that are not only great places to work, but are also socially responsible and embrace sustainable development. They want to feel a sense of alignment between their personal values and their company values. There is significant evidence to suggest that organizations that focus on values alignment are the most successful financially.”

Richard Barrett author of ‘Building a Values-Driven Organization‘ (2006)

core values

Core Values

Core values, alignment, triple bottom line, social responsibility, values-driven business – these are all buzz words popular in business culture today, and they are strategically important to drive business and impact decisions. But if they don’t mean anything to the people who work in the company, their value is little more than the print on the page. Under the pressure of modern day business, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters, and that’s why core values are important. They form the foundation – the “centre” if you will – of a company’s business actions and daily decisions. Employees must sense that core values are more than posters on a wall and have a direct relationship to how business is done, or the values will remain flat, unembraced and having little impact.

On a blog post in the Harvard Business Review, Tony Hsieh, the American entrepreneur who founded, which was sold to Amazon for $US1.18 billion, said that their core values were important to keep the company focused as it grew. In a space of just 10 years, Zappos grew from almost no sales to more than $US1 billion in annual revenue. With this kind of growth you can imagine how challenging it must have been to maintain the business culture across all departments and with all employees. Core values were what drove hiring, informed policies, affected decisions, and maintained the dynamic culture that has made the company what it is today. Zappos employees demonstrates the company’s core values because they understand them, believe them, and clearly see the application to how they do their jobs every day.

At Iridia, we strive to bring our core values alive and at the forefront of business. We encourage employees to think about what they do in the context of those values. We ask questions, make decisions, and conduct business in a way that reflects those values. When they don’t, we want to know about it!

Over the next few posts, we will be writing about each of our eight core values and how we live and breathe them in our day-to-day at Iridia. Core values truly do define a company, and alignment between those values and corporate behaviour is an unstoppable dynamic that sets apart the good from the great.


Creativity Strikes Again – Iridia Day 2012

What is Iridia Day?

Iridia Day is based on the concept of “FedEx Day”, an innovation immersion event from software developers, Atlassian.

Years ago FedEx decided to give their employees a designated amount of time to explore possibilities and opportunities for the future of the company and to brainstorm, and pitch their ideas.

Global Days

It was so successful in generating fabulous ideas, they now do it quarterly, and many other successful companies have followed suit, trying variations of the idea.

Their concept is called “FedEx Day” because the goal of their 24-hour blitz was for participants to originate, develop, and deliver new products, new services, or business process improvements overnight.

Iridia Day 2012 (held in December) was Iridia’s second FedEx Day event, building on last year when two teams came up with some pretty innovative ideas for new service offerings for Iridia, and had a lot of fun doing it.


  • Events like this foster creativity – when there’s no rules, anything’s possible.
  • Every employee has ideas – this is an opportunity to share those ideas in a creative and supportive environment.
  • A spotlight and traction for crazy ideas – nothing is out of bounds so creativity flows.
  • It’s just plain fun – playing with team members creates a fun team-building atmosphere.


IRIDIA Day Theme

The theme for this year’s event was Living Our Values. Some of our values at Iridia are easy to see in practical ways. Lifelong learning, innovation, social responsibility, teamwork, and client focus, are all things that can be seen in many of our day-to-day interactions.

Our remaining three values however, are not so easy. Out of our seven core values, honesty, professionalism and quality are the most difficult to put on display.

For Iridia Day 2012, we decided to assign a group to each of these values, to brainstorm how exactly, we can bring these values to life at Iridia.


This year, the teams threw everything on the table, and then as a group, presented their ideas to the rest of the staff during our January staff meeting. Now all that is left is to select a winner. Deliberation is currently underway. We will keep you posted when a winning team has been selected!

Innovation Corner – Windows 7 Shortcuts


What’s the Innovation Corner?

Windows 7 Shortcuts

Innovation is one of our eight core values at Iridia, values we strive to live every day. It’s one thing to say “innovation is a corporate value of ours,” but it’s another to live it.

We are always keeping our sharp eyes on the lookout; finding creative ways to fit the pieces together. In order to “fit pieces together,” we need to do things more efficiently and, if possible, with the use of new tools.

The Innovation Corner is a brief (5 min.) section of the agenda dedicated to the introduction of a story, a tool, a concept, or anything else that might spur on innovation within our team.  Anyone can lay claim to the Innovation Corner in upcoming meetings, and thereby use it to share an innovative find they have come across.

Windows 7 Shortcuts

windows shortcut

Windows 7 Shortcuts

This week Innovation Corner focused on Windows 7 Shortcuts – everyday tips to make life easier. 

It’s a reality – most people do not use Windows to its full potential. Built into this powerful operating system are numerous shortcuts that will help you in your day-to-day activities. Whether at work or at home, a shortcut can simplify your task list.

Want to work efficiently as possible? We have created a simple list of shortcuts that anyone can use:

  • Snaps
  • Jump Lists
  • Show Desktop
  • Repeating
  • Changing Cases
  • Sharing Workbooks
  • Horizontal Pages

Check out our Windows 7 Shortcuts Prezi to see a short presentation highlighting these shortcuts.

Like these? They are just the tip of the iceberg. Google windows shortcuts and you will find many more!


Lifelong Learning From Ten Time Olympian

Learning is a lifelong process.

The word evolves rapidly, lifelong learning means what applied yesterday may no longer apply today. At Iridia, we understand that we must continually invest in ourselves through learning.

Lifelong Learning

Canadian show jumping world champion and Olympic silver medalist, Ian Millar, has been nicknamed “Captain Canada” for his longevity and accomplishments in his sport.

In 2012, he competed in his 10th Olympic games – holding the record for the most Olympic appearances. Other accomplishments include receiving the Order of Canada, and being inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. In addition to these prestigious awards, he has won dozens of national and international competitions and is considered one of Canada’s most accomplished athletes.

Millar was 25 years old in his first Olympics in 1972. His amazing 40 year career proves that age is not a factor in personal and professional growth.

Think about how the world has changed over the last 40 years. Think about how sport and competition has changed. Imagine what it takes to remain competitive year after year for that length of time. Millar is an example of someone who believes learning happens for a lifetime.

As he prepared for each Olympic games and many national and international competitions, he was committed to learning how to improve himself as a rider, and his champion horse. Not only did he continue learning for himself, but as his career progressed he became a mentor to the younger athletes coming into the sport. He is deeply respected and admired as an athlete and a person by his teammates, his competitors, the media, and the equestrian world.

Ian Miller

Perhaps most famous for his winning career with his horse, Big Ben, the pair became Canadian icons. The relationship between a rider and his horse is intense, intimate, and powerful. When Big Ben had to retire in 1994 after 12 years of partnering with Millar, it would have been easy for him to hang it all up.

Training another horse to competition level is a tremendous amount of work and would take learning of a different kind, for both horse and rider. But Millar didn’t give up. He rode several horses to competition wins before pairing up with his current young horse, Star Power, who he says will be at peak performance level in another four years.

Millar’s patience, commitment, and passion allowed him to continue to do what he loves, in spite of setbacks and challenges.

Lifelong Learning – Continued Growth

In today’s work world it’s unlikely any of us will be at the same job for 40 years. In fact, most of us will likely have more than one career. How are we committing to learning so that we can become more skilled and experienced in order to offer our best to our employers or employees?

Iridia lives out this value by offering employees a generous training allowance and paid days off each year for training. We want our employees to know we value their continual growth in their professional and personal lives.

lifelong learning

If strategic, continuous learning isn’t part of your career plan, perhaps it’s time to make it one. Whether it’s formal education, seminars, conferences, keeping up to date on your industry or business in general, reading great books – continued learning will make you a better business owner, CEO, manager, or employee.

On the other side of learning, could consider where you could take the skills and experience you have gained, and mentor someone who is new in their career, job or industry.

After the Equestrian event at the 2012 Games, the question on everyone’s minds for Ian Millar was whether he’d be riding at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. He’ll be 69 years old. “Well, if Star Power is willing and ready, so am I!” said Millar. Star Power is still young and has a lot to learn in the next four years. My guess is, so does Millar – someone who truly demonstrates that lifelong learning is a process.

Going for Gold – Iridia’s Core Values


Iridia’s Core Values

I’m an unabashed Olympic addict. I love everything about the Olympics. The opening ceremonies – all the grandeur and creativity that represents the hosting nation – and I admit I get chills when the athletes enter the stadium proudly bearing their country’s flag.

Night after night I sit in front of my television, mesmerized by the talent, the strength and the endurance of the athletes running their races, competing in their events. It’s dramatic, exciting and mind-boggling as year after year, records are broken, proving the human body capable of more than we ever thought possible.

I love the stories and profiles on the athletes – learning about them as people gives us insight into their journeys and connects us with them in a powerful way so that we can’t help but cheer them on at the starting box. And who doesn’t have an internal sense of pride when one of our country’s finest pushes through their own barriers and ends up on the podium?

This world-stage event every two years is a magnificent gathering of the best of the best from all over the world; a bringing together of nations, a demonstration of teamwork, and an example of what can be accomplished with commitment, passion, and determination.

But what does this have to do with the average person going through everyday life. As I was reviewing Iridia’s core values this week, I realized that many of them align with what it takes for an athlete to compete on a world stage; to be extraordinary.

Two years ago we experienced “extraordinary” right here in our backyard as the world came to our house in February of 2010. I can say I’ve never sensed national pride like I did during those days.

Very few people came away from the 2010 Olympics without being touched by the experience in some way. But the games were extraordinary for reasons that went far beyond the schedules and the events and the medal ceremonies. They were extraordinary because they were ours! They were a demonstration of our culture, our community, and our heritage.

There was almost as much talk about the volunteers as there was about the athletes. There was a demonstration of compassion and integrity as we experienced and dealt with the tragic death of a young athlete in the first few days of competition – the worst nightmare of any Olympic games. We faced the adversity of uncooperative weather and demonstrated innovation in “making it work” so that the skiers could compete.

Core Values

Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting some blogs, based on Iridia’s core values, on what “Going for Gold” looks like in the real world – the world of every person who thinks they’re ordinary, but who has the potential to be extraordinary.


Professionalism is not an option, it is a must


Professionalism can be difficult to define because it’s about so many things. It’s not just about knowing how to do a job well, it’s about attitude, behavior, and how you present yourself and represent your company. It’s demonstrating a willingness to learn, working collaboratively with others, and living up to commitments. It’s also about avoiding the kinds of behaviors that cause trouble in the workplace, like gossip, negativity, and one-upmanship.

A professional is open to the views of others and the possibility that there might be a better way – they are not threatened by the good ideas of others. They make decisions based on the best interest of the company. They are fair and treat everyone with respect, even people they do not particularly like. Professionals evaluate their own performance, have high expectations of themselves and others and constantly strive to improve.

At Iridia, we don’t just ask for professionalism, we expect it of everyone, at every level of our business. We expect people to live up to their commitments, to treat people with respect, to be skilled at what they do, to do their work well and with enthusiasm, to give 100% to their work, and to represent our company with pride and integrity. Is it a lot to ask? Sure. Is it an option to be any other way? Not according to this core value!

Professionalism is what sets one person, one company, apart from another. We want to be known for having high expectations in this area, and for delivering to our customers and to each other, the very best of ourselves.

Living Our Values Award

Every company has a culture and a foundation upon which it is built. Values underpin that culture and guide the company in its decision-making and policy development. Iridia is dedicated to empowering every one of our employees.

In light of us striving to live what we do, we have created the Living Our Values Award (LOVA). The LOVA is a reflection of our corporate culture and what it means to be a part of this team. Every two weeks the award passes to an individual who goes above and beyond, someone who embraces our values and becomes the very best of themselves.

After two weeks the current holder of the award chooses who they would like to give the award to. With each passing of the award our corporate culture and values become more defined. Since beginning in August, the LOVA has passed to five individuals who have embraced values such as teamwork, quality and professionalism.

Living Our Values