Workplace culture is tricky.

One social mismatch is how I discuss a given conversation topic. Take sports for example. I have trouble relating to the whereabouts of specific players and other details that commonly come up; the discussions are too “down to earth” for my taste.

When it is my turn to talk, I often find fun in variants and what-ifs. What if full-size golf had minigolf like obstacles? How would tackling change if the rugby field was slanted? Sadly, most people in turn can’t relate and the conversation goes nowhere (even if it is "on-topic"). This problem extends far beyond sports and affects both more casual conversation as well as more serious discussions.

Edit: Here is a more concrete example of what I am talking about when I say "creative impulse", albeit in a different context.

Regardless of the job, a good community is important even though breaks are a just a small fraction of the workday. Thus as I search for (most likely) computer programming jobs it would be nice to be able to scout out places where the culture better matches this my "what-if" style.

It is hard to communicate these concepts into a 30 second networking pitch or a google query without using heavily loaded buzzwords like “creative” or “innovative”. Is there a way, such as interview questions, to tease out the answer or at least get a general idea? Also, is it possible have an "order-of-magnitude" of how rare are these cultures I am looking at?

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    I believe this should be posted in Interpersonal Stack Exchange instead
    – Belhenix
    Jan 21, 2020 at 2:27
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    @Belhenix: If the mods think so it can be moved. It is a workplace question technically but it is heavily about interpersonal interactions, so it's hard to say for sure. Jan 21, 2020 at 2:33
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because in most likely belongs on Interpersonal Stack as the subject is not limited to the workplace.
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 21, 2020 at 5:10
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    It sounds like you're looking for an improv class, not an actual workplace. If I were you, I would look for these types of activities and these types of friends outside of work. Maybe try meetup.com or craigslist.org Jan 21, 2020 at 5:40
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    I think that workplace and interpesonal skills overlap enough, to allow this question here. OP want to find that kind of culture in a job-related context, not at a bar or a party.
    – virolino
    Jan 21, 2020 at 6:12

2 Answers 2


culture better matches this my "what-if" style

Well, that is difficult, I know from experience. No matter how interesting and useful it is to think out-of-the-box, most of the people think inside-the-box, and many times, the box is actually quite small.

I was faced with two choices:

  1. Keep talking out of the box, alienating everybody, family included;
  2. Keep the out of the box to myself, use it only with people able to cope with it.

I chose the second path. It does not provide as much satisfaction, but "normal" social interactions are important too.

Also, is it possible have an "order-of-magnitude" of how rare are these cultures I am looking at?

It is difficult to even find people. My guess that finding such a culture is mostly impossible.

Mostly, because you might get lucky, as I was at a previous job. The culture was pathetic, but I had two colleagues (others close to that culture, to a lower extent) highly interested and trained to think out of the box. Occasionally, it was difficult to have a simple conversation, considering the brainstorming ideas they could generate from it. It was good.

Recruiters on the other hand, do not have jobs which required them to be inventive. Therefore, thinking out of the box might be a difficult concept for them. So asking them anything about this subject might actually hurt your chances of employment.

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    As a testament to this answer, see all of the confused comments under the question.
    – Cypher
    Jan 21, 2020 at 19:13
  • @Cypher: hi hiiii :) You are right! Although I had to read your comment more than once before I understood what you meant :)
    – virolino
    Jan 22, 2020 at 6:33

You are looking for a wrong thing in the wrong place.

You either looking for a job that, per se, requires you to think "the-other-way-around" while being a computer programming job. A problem solver. And almost no company like to admit they have problems so this is type of consultant job. It even help to get someone from outside to have a fresh look.

Or you are looking for a stable hire for a company that expect it employees to not think straight. And this is not a company. It's academia. A company have a clear goal. Even startups (or I would say they the most) are using beaten tracks to get what they want.

Academia is the place to pull people who like think in abstracts. Who can think in abstracts because the problems are abstracts. They go beyond "How would tackling change if the rugby field was slanted". They ask - how it could be slanted without any known technology?

In regular work people don't like to talk about abstracts because they have either their own work related problems. So why they would waste a brake to fancy another one. Or the work is so tight that jumping out of the rut make going back to work harder.

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