An informal chat on corporate values at Twitter

 

Many companies have corporate values that they have written on a plaque or on a sheet in the CEOs filing cabinet. Meeting Islam at Twitter I got the rare feeling that the company’s bold and idealistic values were and ever present part the work environment. Twitter, was founded in 2006 in San Francisco with the goal:

“To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers”.

Twitter has 320 Million users from which 80% are active on the mobile app. They have 4,300 employees around the world and 79% of the accounts are outside the US. Many of them are not just users anymore, they are now citizen reporters. People in different countries who can use a public space to spread information in 140 characters per tweet.

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Twitter has 10 core values. After my talk with Islam, I think that two stood out for me.

Defend and respect the user’s voice

Twitter has been used around the world to give megaphones to those that previously did not have a voice, in a large part helping to level the playing field for the marginalized. Twitter was a main tool used to communicate how the Arab Spring was evolving in real time during 2011; When the Airways plane crashed in the Hudson river in New York 2011, someone tweeted the news before traditional media. I like thinking about Twitter as a social tool where people are free to express their opinions and share it with everyone. Giving the right to people to express their thoughts but also giving the right to other users to contribute to spread the information they think it is more relevant for themselves. I got the feeling that the employees at twitter strongly believe in this goal and there is a sense of purpose among colleagues. It was inspiring.

Simplify

Another maybe less obvious value of Twitter is to simplify. This can easily been seen in how they require thoughts to be shared in so few words but it also seems to be a part of every aspect of their company. Business and engineering lenses are seam through a lens of simplification which I think help leads to a more focused and less distracted workplace. I also got the sense from Islam that this value extended beyond work. Islam shared how he had become more motivated to simplify his personal life, deciding to live with less things and be focused on what really mattered to him rather than trying to acquire a large amount of accessories. I feel that in this world, sometimes oversaturated with social pressures, a little simplification is very refreshing.

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When I left the Twitter HQ building and walked along downtown San Francisco streets I was left feeling impressed and inspired. I think I would enjoy a Twitter style work culture. I think company values to improve the greater world make work more meaningful. I think the focus that comes from simplification would add to my job satisfaction. What do you think? Would you like to work at a company with a mission or does that not matter to you? Do you think simplification is an important value or would you prefer a workplace with more complexity? Please share your thoughts below, I am super curious to hear your side of these topics. And do not forget to answer the poll bellow for future posts!

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Informal chat on startup culture at Type A Machines

Fist of all, I would like to thank you all for your interest in my blog. Last week I focused my entry on probably the world’s more famous corporation, Google. The comment made by “Cgcanton” brought up an interesting point about having a balance between life and work. And “Jake” made me think about smaller companies where things go faster including the hiring process. After reading your comments, I decided it would be interesting to investigate a startup this time and see what they corporate identity looks like.

Type A Machines is a 24-person company that designs, sells and manufactures 3D printers. They want to revolutionize how thing are made, making print on demand production commonplace.

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While visiting the company, I perceived the amount of work a startup needs to accomplish. Being in such a demanding environment, it must be difficult to separate work from personal life. In America working long hours is often looked well upon. However that is not the life I want to have. It made me realize how important it is for me to have a balance.

Type A have an open space where there are no closed offices. This situation invites you to have a great overview of what is going on. During my time spent there, I was able to see how everyone was interacting with each other. It seemed to encourage workers to get business done together and talk to each other. In short, work as a team.

Under these conditions, it is easy to imagine how new thoughts must frequently come up in basic dialogues. I believe startups are all about creativity. Listening to the CEO of a startup gave me an understanding of how ideas can be implemented in a culture where people can talk to each other and collaborate freely. They have created an environment new ideas have room to grow.

Once you have the idea and a team to build it, people can get to work quickly. The challenge is that many of the ideas must start from scratch because they have not been done before and so the team lacks experience. At the same time I can imagine how fast you learn and how fast you see the impact of what you do.

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Finally, I have picked my favorite part from the interview that I think joins together the four words in bold above. It is when Espen says:

“Are we creating conditions for which each person in the company and outside of the company has a good chance of succeeding and becoming better than what they would be by their selves?”.

From my point of view, working as a team, having room for new ideas, and being able to build together will create these conditions to add value, creating strength in numbers. In the end, if we have the ability to work together, two are more likely to be successful than just one. What do you think? Is an open creative space where every one can talk to each other the best way to be happy and succeed in a startup, or will it lead to chaos and confusion? Is working late a good thing or should you stop and go home? Please share your comments below on “LEAVE A COMMENT” and let me know what corporate values you think are important in startup culture.

Corporate Roots visits Google

From my experience, working in teams is one of the parts of the work place I appreciate the most. However, I believe there must exist a certain level of relationship between the members of the group to be able to communicate well with each other. Usually we don’t feel as comfortable talking to people that we have just met as opposed to our families or friends where we have established relationships.

Knowing people, making things together and interacting on a frequent basis creates familiar and closer contact. This is exactly what community building involves and in my opinion it is a core value of Google.

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Larry Page and Sergey Brin met at Stanford University, California in 1995. The following year based on their own needs, they created a search engine as a university service. Two years later Google was created. Since then, it has been a successful, innovator and fast growth company. Some of their most famous products are: Google Images (2001); Gmail and Google.org (2004); Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Analytics (2005); Google Translator (2006) and so on.

Since the beginning Google has been creating very valuable products that we all use today in our daily routine. It has become a basic need. Can you think about Internet without having Google in your mind?

Furthermore, Google was attracting more and more people willing to work for them.  Why was that happening? Was it just because of their products? I think they were going further. They were creating a new company culture, a philosophy, and a mindset.

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To me it seems that the building blocks of societies are communities. Google has very consciously been able to transform their company into a community. They have designed their community down to the last detail with clear objectives as to what kind of community they want to create. For instance, their dining rooms are designed to incentive workers to talk to each other; there are games areas where workers can play and share break moments. It is easy to take occasional trips where they get away from the building and enjoy their company culture. All these activities allow workers to meet each other.

Furthermore, it is Google’s goal to make their workers happier. They try to make their employees more satisfied with their work experience. I am pretty sure this factor will have a positive effect on “Googlers”, what Google’s workers are called. They have many assorted kinds of perks: free breakfast, lunch and dinner; free haircuts; cleaning services; or hybrid car subsidies. But also for their families: health insurance that covers their families, travel insurance, baby aids, and deaths benefits.

Google has since the beginning invested in people, their main intangible tool. Workers and Google are drawn to each other. Once their people get inside the building, they become part of the community. To manage the company community they have a Google Operator, Laszlo Bock. His job consists in attracting and retaining these people as you can read in the New York Times.

What do you think, is it always good to make the people around you happy? Is  the freedom Google gives its employees something that other companies should also offer? Do you think the values at Google would give you satisfaction in your job? What in your opinion is Google’s brand identity? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please click on “LEAVE A COMMENT” bellow the picture to share.

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