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Culture of Disruption - How we're growing a new type of game company

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This is the internal "culture of disruption" deck that describes the culture at Disruptor Beam around authenticity, effectiveness and constant improvement--and why these values are supported through …

This is the internal "culture of disruption" deck that describes the culture at Disruptor Beam around authenticity, effectiveness and constant improvement--and why these values are supported through things like the absence of non-competes, absence of attendance tracking, and universal sharing of objectives & results. It's like a cheat-sheet for how to get hired at Disruptor Beam!


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  • 1. The Culture of Disruption Version 1.0.1beta – February 27 2015 This document is about Disruptor Beam’s culture. It’s what works for us. But if you think it can help you, please feel free to take whatever you need. This deck is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/
  • 2. Our vision: To be the most fan-centric game company in the world.
  • 3. Our mission: To create the world's most authentic, engaging games for you and your friends, set in the worlds you already love.
  • 4. The best teams are those that are bound by a consistent culture.
  • 5. We’re a software company. Culture is the software that helps us be an awesome team.
  • 6. Lots of companies list out a set of values like being ethical, honest, passionate, customer-focused, etc. Most of these are so overused or obvious that they ought to be universal to almost every company. Instead, we’re going to focus on the values that are special for us.
  • 7. Three core values of a Disruptor: 1. Authenticity 2. Constant Improvement 3. Effectiveness
  • 8. However, cultural values are just words unless they are put into action. This presentation also illustrates a few concrete manifestations of our culture like our unlimited time-off policy, lack of non-competes, our universal sharing of objectives and results, and even how we assess potential hires.
  • 9. Authenticity
  • 10. “Often misconstrued, authenticity is not about being an open book, revealing every detail of yourself without rhyme or reason. It is simply the act of openly and courageously seeing what needs to be seen, saying what needs to be said, doing what needs to be done, and becoming that which you are intent on being.” - Scott Edmund Miller
  • 11. In the last few years, the word transparency has become a business buzzword. We believe in transparency, but we don’t think it’s enough…
  • 12. Authenticity is transparency on steroids. It isn’t just about being willing to hold our actions to the light of evidence—it’s also a willingness to always ask whether what we’re being transparent about is what really matters.
  • 13. A good question to always be asking: “Is that what really matters?” You can apply this question to help prioritize how to spend time, whether a particular metric is valuable, or whether a product is heading the right way.
  • 14. “When we rely on vanity metrics, a funny thing happens. When the numbers go up, I've personally witnessed everyone in the company naturally attributing that rise to whatever they were working on at the time. That's not too bad, except for this correlate: when the numbers go down, we invariably blame someone else. Over time, this allows each person in the company to live in their own private reality. As these realities diverge, it becomes increasingly difficult for teams to reach consensus on what to do next.” Eric Ries Lean Startup Dude Authenticity is the antidote to a certain problem:
  • 15. Customers can tell when something is inauthentic. Although we sometimes make mistakes, customers are more forgiving when they know we have their interests at heart. Authentic companies build authentic products.
  • 16. Great companies don’t need (or want) non-compete agreements. None of our employees sign non- compete agreements because we believe that great companies are built by team members with an authentic passion for working together on interesting problems—not by trying to prevent them from working elsewhere.
  • 17. We don’t build products unless we would want our friends to play them. Some companies build things they’d like to use themselves; others because they think there’s something needed in a market. For us, we like to think that we’re creating games that our friends would enjoy.
  • 18. Constant Improvement カイゼン
  • 19. カイゼン "I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I'll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.” – Sushi Master Jiro Ono, from Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  • 20. Game development is a craft. You get better at a craft through a willingness to learn along with lots of practice.
  • 21. In agile software development, iteration is a way to constantly improve products by releasing more frequent versions and paying attention to the metrics that matter.
  • 22. We’re committed to constantly improving every aspect of our business through iteration; not just our software... Customer service, development, hiring, design practices, deals—everything.
  • 23. Fear is the Mind-Killer.* Failure—as long as it isn’t the same type of failure over and over–is a normal part of business. Constant Improvement helps us learn from our mistakes. *Ancient Bene Gesserit saying.
  • 24. Ancora Imparo. (Still, I learn.) — Michelangelo A commitment to constant improvement means that you’re highly adaptable and willing to learn. You’re always trying to find ways to get better at your craft, you listen to those around you, and you’re naturally curious.
  • 25. Effective
  • 26. Disruptors are also effective. By effective, we mean that we focus on results. The results that really matter. Flickr Image by Mark Sadowski
  • 27. We don’t track attendance or time in the office. If you are sick, please stay home and get better; if you need a vacation, please take the time you need. Flickr Image by Paul Bica
  • 28. Flickr Image by Mark Sadowski Objectives and Key Results: everyone at Disruptor Beam, from the CEO to the newest hire, records their current quarterly goals and historic effectiveness in a shared Web document that every employee has access to. At our office, company-wide metrics and financial results are there for everyone to see.
  • 29. How we Hire
  • 30. Everyone in the company participates in hiring decisions. The most important part of the hiring process is trying to figure out if someone is a fit for the Disruptor culture.
  • 31. Culture Fit Skills Skills are important, especially if they are the kind that take a long time to develop, but we usually aren’t concerned about perfect overlap to a job’s specification. The most important inherent talents are general problem solving, innate intelligence, the ability to take a player’s perspective, adaptability and ability to learn new skills. “Culture fit” is fundamental to any of our hires. No matter how skilled and talented someone is, they won’t be hired unless we feel they’re the right fit for our values. Talents Hierarchy of Importance in Hiring Decisions
  • 32. How we Work Together
  • 33. How others do it: the Flat vs. Top-Down Organizations • Flat organizational structures are common in many startup companies (and also many game companies, such as Valve). But more often than not, a flat organization is just chaotic and points to an absence of management. • Top-down hierarchies don’t work well for knowledge-oriented enterprises like software and game design—they are too rigid, constrain creativity, and encourage the formation of fiefdoms.
  • 34. Disruptor Beam: Flexible Team-based organization • We don’t have a fixed top-down hierarchy • You could be a leader on one team or a contributor on another • We use regular peer-reviews and publicly-accessible objectives & key results (OKRs) instead of private/politicized supervisory-style performance evaluations • We do use titles. They’re a useful tool to communicate where someone focuses—in general, titles will jive with someone’s OKRs. Evidence trumps titles. • We’re not a flat organization. Managers tune teams, processes, provide coaching and make sure that everyone is aligned to the work and responsibilities that are best with them. However, due to our more fluid hierarchy we have more team-leaders and fewer traditional managers than many other companies. • Practices, culture and processes are more important than fixed reporting structures. Like anything else, we’re always iterating and improving them.
  • 35. Why all this really matters…
  • 36. We create experiences that fire the imagination, connect people with each other in new ways, and let them feel things they wouldn’t otherwise feel… That’s pretty awesome.
  • 37. Our company is an engine for innovation. It lets us come together and invent things we could never do on our own. Our culture is a strategic advantage.
  • 38. The more our culture help us innovate the more we grow the more valuable we are the more we get to keep innovating
  • 39. Tip of the Hat to: The HubSpot Culture Code Netflix Culture Deck Zappos Family Core Values Valve Employee Manual Gilmore & Pine: Authenticity: What Customers Really Want Google People Operations Flickr Images released via Creative Commons Licenses