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Stratasan's #DISTRIBUTED: Part Story. Part Manifesto. _internal

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#DISTRIBUTED
Part Story. Part Manifesto.

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2010 - Company was founded; two founders
working out of Entrepreneur Center.
Timeline |

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2011 - Stratasan initial funding.
Timeline |
2010 - Company was founded; two founders
working out of Entrepreneur Center.

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Stratasan's #DISTRIBUTED: Part Story. Part Manifesto. _internal

  1. 1. #DISTRIBUTED Part Story. Part Manifesto.
  2. 2. 2010 - Company was founded; two founders working out of Entrepreneur Center. Timeline |
  3. 3. 2011 - Stratasan initial funding. Timeline | 2010 - Company was founded; two founders working out of Entrepreneur Center.
  4. 4. 2011-2020 - Team grew to ~50 employees. We had a downtown office that comfortably fit all but 3 employees, who worked in non-Nashville locations. On workdays, everyone worked from the office. Timeline | 2011 - Stratasan initial funding. 2010 - Company was founded; two founders working out of Entrepreneur Center.
  5. 5. 2011-2020 - Team grew to ~50 employees. We had a downtown office that comfortably fit all but 3 employees, who worked in non-Nashville locations. On workdays, everyone worked from the office. Timeline | 2011 - Stratasan initial funding. 2010 - Company was founded; two founders working out of Entrepreneur Center. except for parking!
  6. 6. March 11 2020 - WHO Declared COVID-19 a Pandemic and we asked all employees to work remotely. Timeline | 2011 - Stratasan initial funding. 2010 - Company was founded; two founders working out of Entrepreneur Center. 2011-2020 - Team grew to ~50 employees. We had a downtown office that comfortably fit all but 3 employees, who worked in non-Nashville locations. On workdays, everyone worked from the office.
  7. 7. March 11, 2020 through today We’re still working remotely.
  8. 8. And, it’s working.
  9. 9. So well, in fact… That we decided to do it indefinitely.
  10. 10. Except we’re calling it “Distributed,” not “remote.”
  11. 11. Remote work is a discipline for the individual worker, Distributed work is a discipline for the entire organization. (according to this Dropbox blog)
  12. 12. WHAT WE’LL COVER TODAY 1 | Guiding Principles for Distributed Work 2 | Revisit Our Core Values 3 | Our Culture and “Unwritten Rules”
  13. 13. As of Jan 2021, we’ve grown to 68 Stratanauts.
  14. 14. Those Stratanauts are spread among 17* different locations around the US. As of Jan 2021, we’ve grown to 68 Stratanauts. (*18 if you count the fact that Stephanie basically lives in Georgia)
  15. 15. 1 2 3 32 NASHVILLE AREA Stephanie
  16. 16. Based on a survey conducted in Jan 2021 94% of Stratanauts said they could comfortably maintain working remotely indefinitely. 94.3%
  17. 17. Here’s what our team likes about distributed work:
  18. 18. But wait... moving toward a fully distributed workforce isn’t as easy as it sounds.
  19. 19. Time zones New hires No watercooler chats! Whiteboarding Collaboration Keeping connected Building trust from afar Virtual meeting overload Software Flex work space Employee equipment Flex hours Going distributed means we have to more critically consider things like
  20. 20. Time zones New hires No watercooler chats! Whiteboarding Collaboration Keeping connected Building trust from afar Virtual meeting overload Software Flex work space Employee equipment Flex hours Going distributed means we have to more critically consider things like
  21. 21. To make this work, we’ve got to change the way we think.
  22. 22. Change the way we think about... How we support each other
  23. 23. Change the way we think about... How we support each other How we communicate
  24. 24. Change the way we think about... How we support each other How we communicate How we measure effectiveness
  25. 25. Change the way we think about... How we support each other How we communicate How we measure effectiveness How we celebrate wins
  26. 26. Change the way we think about... How we support each other How we communicate How we measure effectiveness How we celebrate wins How we learn from mistakes
  27. 27. We can no longer get away with doing things the way we’ve always done them. ~ because ~ distributed work creates an entirely new landscape in which to conduct business.
  28. 28. It creates an opportunity
  29. 29. It creates an opportunity to innovate to improve to transform and to learn.
  30. 30. We’ve come up with a few guiding principles to help us adapt to this new way. (As we all know, “We’ll figure it out” is a commonly used phrase around here. More on this later…)
  31. 31. Disclaimer: This is a work in progress. We’re iterating and learning as we go.
  32. 32. 1 Communication is King.
  33. 33. Communication is King (and Queen). 1
  34. 34. Open lines of communication within an organization lead to high levels of trust engaged people and increased productivity.
  35. 35. For a distributed work environment to work, we need strong lines of both synchronous and asynchronous communications.
  36. 36. Asynchronous communication doesn’t require the recipient’s immediate attention, allowing them to respond to the message at their convenience.
  37. 37. Mastering the art of asynchronous communication allows for work to get done efficiently and effectively in an organization where people aren’t physically together.
  38. 38. An emphasis on asynchronous communication doesn’t mean we abandon synchronous communication (like meetings).
  39. 39. It simply means we see the value in both, understand when one is appropriate over the other, and manage our time accordingly.
  40. 40. We view meetings as massive opportunities. Opportunities to - Connect - Discuss - Unite
  41. 41. We view meetings as massive opportunities. Opportunities to - Connect - Discuss - Unite Have breakthroughs.
  42. 42. To make meetings meaningful, we have to be deliberate.
  43. 43. Meetings should be agenda-driven (sent in advance, along with any pre-reading/viewing material). Attendees READ and RESPOND to the pre-material.
  44. 44. We are committed to starting on time, avoiding distractions, staying on topic, and ending on time.
  45. 45. Recurring meetings have their place. We are critical of each one, challenging ourselves to ensure they’re valuable and a good use of our (valuable) time.
  46. 46. We ask ourselves, “Can this be accomplished asynchronously?”
  47. 47. And also: “Is this the right amount of time for this meeting?” “Is this the right attendee list?” “Is the goal of the meeting clear?” “Is this the right cadence?”.
  48. 48. In short: We’re vigilant in managing our time. Time is sacred. We must use it wisely.
  49. 49. Document Everything. 2
  50. 50. To keep our team aligned in a distributed work environment... Documentation is essential.
  51. 51. Documentation enables a stronger, more informed, more trusting, and more connected team.
  52. 52. Documentation prevents the toxic cycle of touch points intending to "bring people up to speed." Documentation holds us accountable to both a higher quality of work and to each other.
  53. 53. In a distributed work environment, documentation is a competitive advantage. 1
  54. 54. IF ( and only if ) it’s done properly by everyone.
  55. 55. Clarity in writing = Clarity in thinking. Which is why clear writing is hard work. But it’s worth it.
  56. 56. Thinking about how our words will be received helps us be more empathetic.
  57. 57. A great method for documentation is an RFC. What’s an RFC? It’s a “Request for Comment.” But it’s worth it.
  58. 58. Request for Comment is a method of documentation that serves as a way to communicate proposals, gather feedback, and plan a course of action.
  59. 59. We like the concept of RFCs so much, We wrote an RFC about RFCs! If you haven't written your first one yet - talk to your manager about starting one!
  60. 60. Not to mention, in a distributed environment, communicating through writing is inherently inclusive and considerate.
  61. 61. When reading (and when writing), it’s best to assume positive intent We love this one so much → it was brought back as a core value by popular demand. Thanks, Cody (and a few others)!
  62. 62. Engagement over presence. 3
  63. 63. It’s not about showing up physically. It’s about showing up mentally and engaging fully from wherever you are.
  64. 64. Distributed work requires a mindshift in how we measure success. It introduces a new social contract.
  65. 65. This puts a healthy pressure on us to prioritize our work and recognize the difference between activity and results. Activity Results
  66. 66. We hire people who take pride in doing great work.
  67. 67. In the interview process, we call this the “give-a- factor”
  68. 68. We believe that, if you care about your work,
  69. 69. We believe that, if you care about your work, you will do what it takes to do it well.
  70. 70. Being in a positive work environment + caring about your work allows you to bring your whole self to work. Here’s a little formula we believe to be true:
  71. 71. Bringing your whole self to work usually leads to...
  72. 72. Bringing your whole self to work usually leads to... a happier, more engaged person and a better work output.
  73. 73. Bias toward action. 4
  74. 74. We favor action over deliberation.
  75. 75. We aim for “safe enough to try” instead of consensus.
  76. 76. The plan will never be perfect. The timing will never be “just right.”
  77. 77. When time is of the essence (which, it always is) we act quickly, fail fast, learn, and try again.
  78. 78. (Back to our documentation principle)... we seek a consent-based environment, not a consensus-based one.
  79. 79. We don’t wait for (or expect) everyone to agree on everything all the time. We provide an opportunity for people to give their input.
  80. 80. The appropriate parties make the decision. Then, as a team, we commit to that decision. And we... take action on it!
  81. 81. Be human and be kind. 5
  82. 82. In a distributed world, relationship building doesn’t happen as organically as when people share a physical space. We have to deliberately build relationships with those we work with.
  83. 83. That doesn’t just mean collaborating about work-related projects. It’s means getting to know the person.
  84. 84. What excites them! About their family and/or friend group How they take their coffee (or tea)... What they do for fun
  85. 85. It’ll look a little different from the watercooler chat of days past… but it’s just as rewarding.
  86. 86. People put forth their best when they are doing it for each other. (Especially when things are hard. And, when you’re doing meaningful work, they often are.)
  87. 87. We recognize that the differences among us are what make us great. We haven't mastered this yet - but are working on it.
  88. 88. At Stratasan, we see and value everyone as a whole person. … me again We encourage each other to be human and be kind.
  89. 89. Share information, don’t hoard it. 6
  90. 90. Distributed work requires a mindset of openness.
  91. 91. Openness to new ideas collaboration input from others sharing with the team...
  92. 92. We know that information breeds knowledge, a broader understanding, empathy for others, and, usually, a more productive, happier team.
  93. 93. We assume our reader (or listener) would benefit from context. So we offer it.
  94. 94. We are responsive, provide commentary, participate, and offer suggestions. We strive to over- communicate.
  95. 95. But how do we make sure the team is communicating in a way that’s best for the organization - and the people within it?
  96. 96. We lean (hard) on our core values.
  97. 97. Our core values unite our team and hold us accountable. They are the fabric of who we are.
  98. 98. Our Success Is My Success. 1 Core Value This one's first because it's critical to our success and is our only non-negotiable.
  99. 99. We have a team of awesome contributors, and we recognize that nothing great is done alone. It’s the collective, the sum of the parts, that makes us who we are.
  100. 100. We are quick to give praise and slow to take credit.
  101. 101. We support one another, appreciate and recognize the contribution of others, and strive for the success of the team.
  102. 102. Everyone Makes The Coffee. 2 Core Value
  103. 103. Back when we were in the office, this metaphor made a bit more sense. Now that we’re remote … most of us make our own damn coffee (or tea).
  104. 104. We help where help is needed. Whether we’re asked to pitch in on an important call, run a meeting at the last minute, run a report to help out a team member…. everybody does what’s necessary to keep the engine running. Anyway…
  105. 105. title. No job is too small for a title. “big” “small” No job is too big for a
  106. 106. A nod to our 4th Guiding Principle We have a bias for action. If action is needed and we’re capable of taking it - We do.
  107. 107. Assume Positive Intent. 3 Core Value
  108. 108. We believe it’s important to start from the assumption that People are Good and that their intentions are positive.
  109. 109. Distributed work leaves lots of space for assumptions. We give people the benefit of the doubt. (This goes for colleagues, customers, vendors, etc).
  110. 110. We assume people coming from a good place and exercise empathy. We believe this builds stronger and more trusting relationships.
  111. 111. Honest Conversations Make Us Stronger. 4 Core Value
  112. 112. Honest conversations, when approached with kindness and respect, yield the best outcomes. !! ??
  113. 113. Having honest conversations shows we care about the work we do and the people we do it with. !! !!
  114. 114. We respect the viewpoints of others. We seek first to understand. We assume positive intent. And we have real conversations as a result.
  115. 115. We’ll Figure It Out. 5 Core Value
  116. 116. We may not immediately have the answer to a question or a solution to a problem, but we’re always committed to finding one.
  117. 117. We believe most challenges are great opportunities to consciously show up with a resourceful attitude, brainstorm, and consider the best course of action.
  118. 118. Whatever comes our way, we won’t quit until we find a solution.
  119. 119. No matter how tough the challenge, we’ll figure it out. Yes!
  120. 120. Staying true to our 2nd guiding principle (document everything), here are our written “unwritten rules” of distributed work.
  121. 121. To step away from your computer and take a break from the always-on environment, IT’S OK to actively solicit feedback, to ask for help from others, to take vacation.
  122. 122. To take breaks, if your cat/kid/spouse joins a video call, IT’S OK to block or adjust your calendar for “think time,” personal time, other things that need your attention, to ask management to fix it.
  123. 123. To accept help from others, to ask for patience, to use chat instead of voice during a video call, to take a walk during a call, to ask why, and why not of anyone. IT’S OK
  124. 124. IN SUMMARY Our Guiding Principles for going #DISTRIBUTED 1 | Communication is King (and Queen) 2 | Document Everything 3 | Engagement Over Presence 4 | Bias Toward Action 5 | Be Kind 6 | Share Information
  125. 125. IN SUMMARY Our CORE VALUES 1 | Our Success is My Success 2 | Everyone Makes the Coffee 3 | Assume Positive Intent 4 | Honest Conversations Make Us Stronger 5 | We’ll Figure It Out
  126. 126. We hustle. We trust one another, have fun together, and put the team first. We are Stratasan.

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