Origami Risk takes its team-focused culture to a logical conclusion—tying compensation to how well the team performs as well as to how well the individual performs. That has a ten- dency to weed out any slackers pretty quickly. “Almost all of the successes at Origami are team events,” says Robert Petrie, the co-founder and CEO.
The premium on talent is typical for a startup, but Origami Risk
is hardly that. A decade on, the company, with headquarters
in Chicago, has 275 employees across seven U.S. offices plus
London. It’s more of an attitude that has lived on. “This was
a business tilting against windmills,” says Petrie of taking on
rivals such as Aon in those early days. “That led to solidarity,
because we had to fight for every client.”
“Origamians” develop and implement the firm’s
own cloud-based software, which pulls clients’ risk data—
exposures, losses, incidents, assessments, surveys, audits—
into one central repository. The service helps clients reduce
their cost of risk. This means the data is available to all the
risk-management entities that need it, including insurance
companies, brokers, and claims adjusters.
Origami’s biggest team, the service department, is responsible
for applying the software across
very distinct client organizations.
Its employees solve companies’
diverse problems by putting their
heads together in teams of 10 to
12. Although the team structure is
ingrained, the demands on each
team member are significant. “It
requires a high amount of individual thinking and strategy,”
To reinforce the team-building
ethos, the company has an
annual Colleague Conference,
a warm-weather retreat at
which employees from all offices
deepen relationships through group activities. “We tend to
assign teams of people who don’t usually work together,” Petrie
says. Last year, they competed in beach competitions in San
Diego; this year, Western-themed games in Tucson, such
as building fences blindfolded. In what’s become a tradition,
the plushest rooms often go to the newest employees, says
Maribeth Nash, the corporate-events manager. “The people
at the resorts think it’s hilarious,” she says.
They’d have a chuckle at Origami’s headquarters, too.
Petrie still sits in the middle of the open Chicago office. He
also ensures that Origamians can build their lives around their
families, not work. So, as long as clients are happy, employees
are free to leave at 2 p.m. to catch a school concert or soccer
game. “I don’t care if they get their work done between midnight and 6 in the morning,” Petrie says. “We give them a job
to do, and we trust them to do it.” —TALIB VISRAM
TRUSTING THE TEAM TO FIGURE IT OUT
ORIGAMI RISK RISK-MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
Origami Risk gives employees the latitude they need to solve customer problems.
When Randy Goldberg (left) and David Heath found
out that socks were the most requested item at
homeless shelters, they set out to give away a pair
for each pair they sold. The company has donated
nearly 20 million pairs of socks to date.
Bombas is the classic tech disrupter that created
an online category by taking a commodity
product, the tube sock, and reengineering it.
Bombas included features such as midfoot
support—not to mention lots of artful styling.
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