Think about the company as your best product

If you’re working for a company you may find part of it is broken.

It may be something with an existing process, it may be a new process that is lacking, it may be an existent policy (e.g. you’re not allowed to work from home) or a policy that is lacking or that you don’t agree with.

It’s easy to say “Get out there and fix it.” but it’s easier said than done.

I wasn’t really thinking about this at all until @s3rgiosan pointed out that we should have a team handbook at WidgiLabs. At first I couldn’t really grasp why we would need such a thing. I mean I was inspired by Valve’s employee handbook for example.. but I didn’t really see the point in doing something like that for our team.

I decided anyway to give it a try and forked Humanmade’s handbook and started making changes to it and documenting everything around how I see our team working. I must say that after a while it really started to grow on me. And I started to like writing it.  It was like doing a brain dump of a bunch of ideas on improving our way of doing things that I had lying around in my mind and that I never put in pencil before. Better than that it was also a way to document how we are organized and refer to when needed.

I also wanted to make it simple for our team to be involved in improving our company and since we do code reviews using pull requests I thought using the same process to track/propose changes to our company’s handbook would make sense. This allows:

1) everyone to track changes to the company (systems, guidelines, processes, procedures, ..);

2) everyone can contribute with improvements to how the company works and is set up;

Now, what I found, is that not everyone will naturally start contributing and improving the handbook (which in turn can improve the company). They might feel it’s the CEO/Management/etc responsibility rather than theirs. Especially if there isn’t a plan of how much time they should spend on it. Or they may simply want to stay out of it. And that’s ok. Not everyone likes to think about such things. Not everyone needs to be involved in everything. What’s important is that the handbook stays a work-in-progress, evolving as the company evolves and new stuff is added when necessary, and defunct stuff cleaned.

I was also listening to DHH interview with Tim Ferris this week and came across the idea “think about the company as your best product“. I think that’s exactly what I’m trying to do here. It is definitely an inspiring thought to me and I find it liberating that anyone can be involved in creating/shaping a great company.