?What If! Innovation

www.whatifinnovation.com

?What If! Innovation Reviews

Updated October 29, 2014
Updated October 29, 2014
18 Reviews
3.3
18 Reviews
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Barrie Berg
5 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great place to freelance

    • Culture & Values
    Former Employee - Copywriter in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Copywriter in New York, NY

    I worked at ?What If! Innovation as a contractor

    Pros

    Smart, organized people, cool digs, fun projects, timely pay. It was a pleasure to work here.

    Cons

    Luckily, I haven't found them out yet.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 3 people found this helpful  

    Surprised by recent reviews but...

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I worked at ?What If! Innovation full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    No doubt this company has still has some of the best benefits around. Almost unheard of in corporate America to get 5 weeks paid vacation, and it really adds to the quality of your life. If they've discontinued this perk for the US then run for your life, as it would mean they're morphing into a typically horrible US -style corporate.

    Cons

    Was/is/will be a victim of its own growth apparently. Some ideals just won't keep their shape when expanded too quickly.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider not growing. Consider nourishing-at-size or pruning. That would be rather innovative in terms of business. Cancer also grows rapidly. Business health vs. size.

    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Amazing and exhausting, learning but burnt out

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at ?What If! Innovation full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Lovely work environment, some of the best people that I have ever met. Vibrant and alive. Free Snacks, drinks and cake, lot of cake.

    Cons

    Low pay, I think seniors were on a lot but I took a pay cut to work there and I worked every hour I could. made for the single life.
    Promotion was stopped for my level while I was there by a 'leader who loved to talk', however, I do think they have changed that rule and you can progress within the company without having to leave.
    Team vs team thing with each team competing for income meant sometimes the best people were not chosen for the job due to 'keeping it in the team'. Same with information.
    It did seem that to get ahead one needed a big ego. Who could big themselves up the most, talk the talk, brag even.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It would of been very hard to be a primary carer parent there and work due to the amount of work and time given to thinking about work.
    So a much. much better work life balance.
    Better salaries.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 4 people found this helpful  

    I learned a lot and value the relationships, but have little confidence in the ability of the leadership team

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at ?What If! Innovation full-time

    Pros

    Getting immersed into the flow of What If was exciting. I learned a lot about facilitation. The core strength of What If is facilitating creativity and they are very skilled.

    Many organizational problems are overcome by a wealth of talent in the junior and middle ranks - smart, collaborative, determined people. The org issues are also compensated by an excellent set of processes for doing the work. The language set - while homespun and kooky - is thoughtful and effective. Projects and workshops are done a certain way. What If is quite process-oriented when compared to other innovation firms, despite what it's leaders say.

    The company has an excellent set of reward systems for generating enthusiasm and building the office community.

    Cons

    While What If calls itself an innovation firm, it is different from IDEO et al. It is more like F212, Redscout and other agency derivatives that mix creative/advertising and strategy consulting. I observed that What If can deliver on fairly simple innovation challenges (a new brand message, product extensions, etc.) but when attempting to solve more complex challenges, the results are not nearly up to par. One cause of this is the lack of real design thinking.

    At the time, early 2013, only people in the design department had any background in design thinking. But those individuals were relegated to a service function on projects, brought on at the end to redress deliverables. This is a woefully outdated practice and should indicate how differently it operates from other innovation firms where design is core to the work. One case in point is when the CEO posted the comment, "IDEO WHO?!" after a freelancer's rudimentary rendering of a medical product, was shown on their online community site. In 2013.

    The real problem though is the hypocrisy that goes on in closed-door conversations at the director level. The company has a strong set of values - love, adventure, impact, etc., - for creating a vibrant culture but it misuses them to defend bad leadership behavior. Many people were let go in 2013 without warning in a way that was anything but loving.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The leaders need to rebuild many of the foundations of a consulting enterprise to show the rank and file that there is a real, career-focused reason to stay. Beyond the fun projects and parties, the company needs basic routines for feedback (which was non-existent when I left) and for career advancement (1/3 of the company had no path to leadership).

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    There are a lot of empty promises.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I have been working at ?What If! Innovation full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Office space is amazing. Fun parties. Some interesting, thoughful, smart people. Very flexible.

    Cons

    Zero growth/development potential. Ironically, upper management is narrow minded. Some ego inflation.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Think about the way you've structured this organization to grow.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great if you drink the Kool-aid, Not so much if you resist

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Producer
    Former Employee - Producer

    I worked at ?What If! Innovation full-time

    Pros

    Many talented, nice people. Great work / life balance

    Cons

    People tend to be placed in positions that are below their experience / skill level / ambition. Employees are engaged to be "part of the team" even if it means doing just so-so work. Anyone who voices constructive criticism will be put on notice, and even "let go". With few exceptions, the senior management team is generally less talented then their equals at other agencies / innovation firm.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    be more innovative and open to change

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 5 people found this helpful  

    The company isn't quite what it says it is (it's external brand) but it's still OK

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I have been working at ?What If! Innovation full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    The company has great benefits (five weeks vacation, six after five years), fun parties, smart people, an inspiring atmosphere in a great East Village (previously a) hospital/clinic.

    Senior people are quite well rewarded.

    Cons

    There is very little sense of work-life balance and while you work with great people, they're often stressed and on the brink of breakdown (when you do get to see them).

    For what the company used to be, it's quite disappointing where it is now: management, who used to be "chief enthusiasts" are hidden and don't add or encourage the culture or values of the business. There are no role models left (which used to be a key part of what made it great to work there).

    Management hides behind the values, they twist the values to hide the truth.

    The company used to be incredibly transparent, with an aim to be a feedback-driven company, now there's a lot of exclusion and people get fired without really being told why and people (if they're smart) don't trust communications from management or the HR "people" team. They announce a bunch of promotions after firing a bunch of people, for example. Employees disappear (go on leave, get fired, resign) and no one is told. (Again, fine for some big companies, not as typical for smaller companies and definitely not typical for the old What If)

    There used to be a very strict hiring process where only the brightest and best were hired - that's changed and now the company is hemorrhaging employees who aren't happy and don't see a long term commitment and personal/professional growth within the business. Entire teams are dismantled, people's careers terminated all at the cost of 'an experiment'.

    Junior people don't get a lot of attention or development, the focus really is on senior staff. With a very generous budget for development - most of it went to directors.

    It used to be a company that valued it's people and now it's clearly a company that will always put itself first, which is OK - a lot of companies do this, but it's just not what was typically associated with ?What If!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Honestly, it feels like the founders have left or given up and it's a soul-less company now (which used to be full of passion and love; happy and committed people who were there to do more than just a job). The UK headquarters promoted a global CEO who is totally off-values and my advice is that management gets honest and communicates with employees about what's really going on - but the truth is it's probably too late...employees know that management is incapable of being genuine.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. 5 people found this helpful  

    Used to be a great place to work.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I worked at ?What If! Innovation full-time

    Pros

    Benefits were truly amazing (almost to a fault, people who should have left stuck around because benefits elsewhere don't compare)

    Managers used to really care about work-life balance, and helped to get people out at a decent hour. Weekend emails were unheard of.

    Company big meetings were intended to keep everyone engaged with the overall happenings and success and struggles of the company.

    A playful culture with fun parties. Probably an inappropriate amount of drinking.

    It's footprint foundation (now called social innovation or something) was a key reason to join and led to some pretty cool projects and travel opportunities for one or two people.

    Cons

    As a consultancy, its people-first strategy was a major strength-it no longer seems to exist
    Lots of unhappy, overworked and under-challenged people
    It's a permission culture, rather than forgiveness culture
    Theres so much turnover in the last year, some of its pillar people have left or were terminated and it's had a big impact on culture and morale
    The 'performance reviews' in NY didn't happen or we're awful
    Upper management hides behind doors, not much interaction with general staff
    Chaos-the company grew too quickly without grounding itself or new people in its values
    Even salary reviews were rushed, impersonal and not that we'll planned or communicated
    Management hasn't found a way to promote people in a fair way and without offending tons of people
    It's a fact-there's major favoritism influencing important decisions which is great if you're favored!
    With a lot of layoffs and spending cuts there's still a ridiculously large HR team-one person seems to focus on farewell parties and another focuses on MBA recruiting even though they're not hiring.
    I don't think you can trust several senior managers.
    Values changed a while ago but management doesn't seem to be consensus on what they mean and how people really live them
    Capable of great work, but mediocre as of recent

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do more 'stay' interviews early on, not after you've turned people off and they're disgruntled. Take the advice to heart and make changes. Get managers the coaching they need to be better leaders than they are.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    Amazing Culture, People, Clients

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Coordinator in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Coordinator in New York, NY

    I worked at ?What If! Innovation full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    ?What If! is a great place to work with an amazing culture and amazing work as well. Great Benefits.

    Cons

    Pay wasn’t great for New York but benefits made up for it.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  11. 10 people found this helpful  

    It's All About the Image

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I have been working at ?What If! Innovation

    Pros

    This review is generally for Support roles: Producer/Coordinator

    Great benefits and amazingly talented (and mostly genuine) people. Excellent parties, vacation time (25 days), free food, beautiful building, open work environment. If you get on the right team, you'll have a fun time and develop useful skills for the future. There's a lot of eye candy.

    All in all, its a good entry-level job, with amazing perks, but only stay for a short while - don't plan on developing your career there (unless you're an innovation consultant, but even then...).

    Cons

    Where to start...

    Everything at What If is about how you look on the outside. If you don't constantly have a smile on your face, you're OUT. If you express frustration, even to HR, you're OUT. You show feelings of discontent to the wrong person, you're out. Many that I have spoken to in a support position is dissatisfied with their role, yet nothing is going to change because no one is allowed to voice their opinion. Those in the support role are in a state of fear for losing their jobs.

    The company has used the recession to hire very talented, smart, fresh out of school/grad school people, misleading them into positions way below their qualifications, underpaying/under-appreciating/undervaluing them. There is no track for growth unless you come in as a Consultant ("Inventor"), which in that case is clear: Junior, Mid-level, Lead, Director. They refuse to promote anyone in a support role, even though (generally) all of those employees are well-suited for a more content-based, higher-level position. It's just that they don't acknowledge college-graduates have aspirations and don't wish organize their life around being a career admin. If you go in as a support person (Producer or Coordinator), beware that you will be stuck in that same role for as long as you are employed with What If. In the interview however you will be misled into thinking you can move up into whatever position you desire. (Just ask them how many Producers/Coordinators have been promoted to another role in all of What If NY's history: Research, Junior level, etc.) - it will be ZERO. Discontent is rampant throughout...
    Morale is at an all-time low...

    What If is a company that preaches to its clients: "You can build up anyone in your company, just develop a more transparent, open, encouraging environment." Well, model this yourself. Don't put your full trust in the People Team (HR, Recruiting) - they want you to think that it is okay to come to them when you have a problem. This is true, they do, but it is not to render solutions, it is to harshly evaluate and develop a superficial opinion about you.

    The company has grown rapidly, doubling in size since last year, so financially, we're doing well, but it's not sustainable. There is no infrastructure to support this growth. Some Directors are underutilized, while others are way overworked. Business practices are misguided and solid foundations are just not there. Maybe this will develop over time, but not until Senior Management acknowledges the issue.

    Besides the above question, ask the following in an interview:
    1. What is your turn-over rate for Producers/Coordinators?
    2. Why did the person before me leave?
    3. Don't ever accept the first offer -it's shitty.
    4. What position could I realistically grow into and how long would that take? or How long do you expect me to stay in this role?
    5. What skill set would I gain from my role - concrete examples?
    6. What percentage of the Producer role is packing suitcases and blu-tacking boards on walls?
    7. How many hours does a Producer REALLY work? (it's not 9-6 as advertised)
    8. Can I speak with a Producer/Coordinator solo?
    9. Who has hiring/firing power over me?
    10. How has the company culture changed within the past year? I understand there have been a good number of lay-offs/firings and hirings.

    Don't get distracted by the great benefits or all the beautiful people.
    Advice: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. (cliche, yes)

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You're building the pyramid upside down and if you don't Realize, it will soon topple over. Promote! You say you care about the people, then actually CARE about them! Stop hiring so many Directors until you can develop a structure to support them!

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

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