My Ideal Work Culture

Culture is defined by communication which must be respectful and professional at all times. To underline this, a healthy culture should have a zero-tolerance policy for “jerks”. A persons contributions cannot exempt them from respectful communication. While we will not tolerate “jerks”, this is not an environment free from (healthy) conflict. People should have strong opinions, weakly held. In other words, we are passionate about our ideas but are willing to change our mind. Finally our communication is grounded in a document culture. Writing gives our thoughts time to crystallize. Writing is egalitarian, it does not favor those who are quickest on the draw or the loudest. The documents serve as a memory of our decisions and discussions.

We focus on processes over results. When the bad thing happens, the question is not who is to blame, the question is what process needs to be in place to prevent this in the future. Despite the fact that we do not look for an individual to blame, the process is not a shield. The collective (team, department, company) is still responsible for the outcome of the process, and certain failure scenarios are unrecoverable. Processes enable our success, they minimize our chances of failure, and they may even minimize negative outcomes. But, at the end of the day, we are responsible for the outcome. To reconcile the tension between process over results and owning the outcome, we maintain a focus on pragmatism. Solving the problem and achieving the goal is what is important, how we get there often involves compromise and flexibility.

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