Sunday, June 3, 2007

Maintaining principles, values and culture

Maintaining principles, values and culture

I am currently working out of my home country on assignment in Sweden. Anyway, working away tends to means that I quite often get to spend time with my colleagues over dinner and talk about work, technology, people and generally put the world to rights.

The other evening was just such an event and after talking about work and life in general we started talking about company values and I recounted some things that I had seen during my life as a professional software engineer.

In the early life of a company the company is a direct reflection of its employers or more typically the mind of the person heading up the company. In this early period especially for software companies it is likely that the company has a very casual attitude to dress and personal expression. The people joining the company at this time are often attracted to the company because of this relaxed approach. Encouraged that hard work and thinking are valued over conforming to corporate stereotypes.

As companies grow they attract employees with a different view and customers who may expect a different set of values. This difference quite often sets up conflicts or 'growing pains'.

I believe that these changes in company culture and expectations in most companies go unnoticed or are simply accepted as part of growing up. But should this be the case? If I were to visit the offices of a design company I would expect to be surprised. I would expect a 'different' approach to office layout, dress and a more 'creative' environment. Why? Because I am looking for that type of organisation.

So why is it that when looking for someone to help with a software development problem I expect to see people in suites? Surly I am looking for creative solutions to my software development issues not someone who will try and apply a formula to my problems. My personal view is that a company should decide what type of company it wants to be rather than just become what everyone else expects it to be.

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