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Nurturing Top-Notch Teams


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Over the last 10 years, Atomic Object has grown from 7 to 43 employees. Here are a few ways we build connections between team members and keep our culture strong.

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Nurturing Top-Notch Teams

  1. 1. Mike Marsiglia and Drew Colthorpwww.atomicobject.comNurturing Top-notchTech Teams
  2. 2. @atomicobject 2Our Challenge
  3. 3. @atomicobject 3We arepoly-skilled,co-located,teams of makers
  4. 4. @atomicobject 4helping companies& entrepreneurscreate multi-platformsoftware products
  5. 5. @atomicobject 5that people love to use.
  6. 6. @atomicobject 6We love making awesome software,
  7. 7. @atomicobject 7and we’re dedicatedto our culture,
  8. 8. @atomicobject 8so as we grow,
  9. 9. @atomicobject 9we want to hold on to the things
  10. 10. @atomicobject 10that makeus strongandunique.
  11. 11. @atomicobject 11Atomic in 2002 • 7 employees — all developers• Close-knit• Direct access to everyone• Communication is easy
  12. 12. @atomicobject 12Atomic GR in 2013• 43 employees in two offices• Developers, designers, testers,and more• Communication is a challenge
  13. 13. @atomicobject spin.atomicobject.comHow do we teach andintegrate new employees?How do we build bonds?How do we keep our culturestrong?13
  14. 14. @atomicobject 14Economics of AO
  15. 15. @atomicobject 15Economics of AOAnnual class for new employeesThe basics of how our business works:• how we make money• how we spend money• how we stay competitive• other metrics we care aboutTaught by President or Vice President
  16. 16. @atomicobject spin.atomicobject.comEconomics of AOTopics• Basic financial terms• How to read our profit and loss statement• Our open books management• How to use our company financial model to experimentwith ideasWe’re considering adding other classes:• The Marketing of AO• The Communication of AO16
  17. 17. @atomicobject 17Information Radiators
  18. 18. @atomicobject 18Information RadiatorsWhy?• Economics of AO not visible, noton peoples’ minds.• Want to encourage continualawareness• Radiators aren’t “Out of site, out ofmind”• Encourages thinking that’sconsistent with the operation of thecompany and business model.
  19. 19. @atomicobject 19Information RadiatorsTypes• Continuous Integration Monitor• Stoplight• Server Monitor• Central Dashboard
  20. 20. @atomicobject 20Central Dashboard
  21. 21. @atomicobject 21Central DashboardShows how busy/billable every employe is.• X axis – Average hours/week for current quarter• Y axis – Percentage of time spent on projectsEach person will fall into 1 of 3 quadrants:• Green zone – Working full-time & highly utilized• Yellow zone – Evaluate your non-billable activities;are you using your time wisely?• Red zone – Not meeting expectationsUtilization
  22. 22. @atomicobject 22Central DashboardPossible Risks:• Competition to have more hours• Non-billable time isn’t bad – should just beconsidered against other possible activities(billable or not)Utilization
  23. 23. @atomicobject 23Central DashboardEach employee blogs every 40 days.As your due date approaches, yourbar grows shorter.• Yellow means 10 days left.• Red means you’re overdue.Blog Radiator
  24. 24. @atomicobject 24Central DashboardShows how our active projectsare testing.Continuous IntegrationAggregator
  25. 25. @atomicobject 25Central DashboardReal-time analytics via ChartBeat.Blog & Website Traffic
  26. 26. @atomicobject 26Culture Pairs
  27. 27. @atomicobject spin.atomicobject.comCulture PairsWe practice pair programming – what about aculture pair?• Every new employee is assigned a culture pair• Form a relationship• Transmit AO culture• Make it easy to ask questions• Actively seek out opportunities to teach and learnMixed results: participation tends to drop off quickly.27
  28. 28. @atomicobject 28Pair Lunches
  29. 29. @atomicobject 29Pair LunchesGoal• Foster personal relationshipsRules• 2 employees have lunchtogether• Company pays• Not more than once a monthfor each pair• Encouraged to talk about funor personal topics
  30. 30. @atomicobject 30Pair LunchesGraph shows our pair lunchdata for 2012:• 228 pair lunches; that’s 450ishhours of bonding• Lots of people participated• Lots of random connections• Bold lines show common pairs(they’re rare, which is good)
  31. 31. @atomicobject 31Spin Down
  32. 32. @atomicobject 32Spin Down• Monthly Friday evening party w/bartender & snacks• Chance to bond, share project stories• Invite families, customers, sales opps, potential hires
  33. 33. @atomicobject 33Workshop Series
  34. 34. @atomicobject spin.atomicobject.comWorkshop SeriesWhy?• We’re becoming afirm that specializesin product dev.• We all do design.• Needed a way tospread designthinking about thecompany.34StrategyScenariosSketchingPlanningPrototypesIA & IxD PatternsMarkupCodingHi-fidelityDesignDesigners Developers
  35. 35. @atomicobject 35Workshop SeriesInternal, crowd-sourced professional dev. series• 10 Workshops (5 after work with beer & 5 during lunch)• Average attendance: 22 (Min: 18, Max: 30)Topics included• What is design?• Storytelling• Design thinking• Visualizing ideas• Visualizing data
  36. 36. @atomicobject 36Tactic Cost ImpactEconomics of AO 2 hours per new employee Business understandingInformation RadiatorsDesign andDevelopment timePersonal responsibilityCulture Pair Free Distributed managementPair Lunches $28 per pair lunch Personal relationshipsSpin Down $500 per event Personal relationshipsDesign Series $19/hr of training Broader design knowledge