Human Development —
Growing the Whole Human


Imagine you're talking to someone. First they tell you what they do for work. You get a picture in your head. Then they share their passions, hobbies and side hustles. They talk of their ancestry and upbringing. Then, their hopes, dreams, and life plans. A complete picture forms and you see, what we call, "the whole human." At Instrument, this is our focus for human development.

Eight months ago, we made a decision to further how we grow our people by creating the Human Development discipline. This is our way of reimagining and updating a traditional Human Resources function. Instead of business or policy-focused, it’s human-focused. And the benefits of this approach are as much business and innovation-centered as they are employee and culture-centered.

Why This Makes Sense

Traditionally, people living balanced lives isn’t the business of the workplace. But we know that a balanced life (where needs of work, self, family and passions are adequately nourished) makes you whole. A whole person is inspired. Inspired people build awesome shit. We build awesome shit. And here’s the deeper thinking:

Whole humans tend to be happier, happier people make more happiness. Once you have experienced the flow of joy in one aspect of life, you want it in all aspects. You bring a level of problem-solving and path-clearing to make your job as fun and fruitful as possible. So when you’re in a project that doesn’t feel great, you are more likely to find ways to make it feel great.

Whole humans make better things. People who have an expanded concept of who they are and bring that into the office, create more dynamic and relevant products and services. Imagine you’re in a brainstorm and you have a group of people who stick to their roles and titles. Imagine that output and the feeling of that room. Who governs the conversation? What is the outcome? Now imagine a comparable session where every person feels safe and inspired to show all aspects of themselves—the artist, the musician, the mom, the introvert, the athlete, etc. What could those collective voices create? Is that layered creation more likely to resonate with more of the world?

Whole humans have more stamina. Work can at times be challenging and projects can be lengthy. It can ask a lot of you. That’s the nature of working at a high level, dealing with global brands and complex business challenges. So it’s vital that our people stay balanced. We want them in it for the long game. We want them here for a long time. 

“Whole humans living balanced lives isn’t a delightful cultural need, it’s a mission-critical business need to stay at the very top of our game. This is a win at the intersection of employee and business. Just how we like it.”
How We're Doing This

It’s a system that we are incubating, testing, and experimenting with. It begins with hiring talented people who excel in their craft, who are also amazing to work with and are living balanced lives. We have to have it all. Then we’ve created a human development system comprised of 1-1 guidance, group workshops and work-life balance. Employees opt-in and set up time to discuss everything from expansion at work to expansion in life. Group workshops create a sense of shared purpose, an openness to discuss that which limits expansion and a real depth of intimacy. Then a series of skill-specific targeted programs enable a laser focus on areas like leadership development, the art of influence, presentation skills, and more.

The next article in this series will discuss more of what’s working as well as our challenges as we continue to explore and experiment with human-centric HD that grows, champions and inspires the whole human.

  • Written by Sohail Coelho, Director of Human Development, Instrument
  • Illustrated by Jordan Egstad, Designer, Instrument