One of the most important and difficult aspects of business is hiring. No one relishes the process of sifting through multitudes of applications to weed out the unqualified and unrelated. And the real work begins once we find candidates who meet the defined standards. Yet there is a step preceding the interview process far more slippery to define. Does this person “get” our culture?
Culture is something every business has. Good or bad, fun, inventive, laid-back, entrepreneurial, stoic, it can be anything. Culture comes from the people involved in the business. Many small businesses begin their lives as a tiny, like-minded group with the same goals and ideas. Quite often as a business grows, these views and beliefs are not as easily scaled. In general, the larger the business, the less defined the culture.
I’m not implying a large company can’t maintain a culture. It’s just a lot harder. And it is something that once was just part of the understood way, but now must become instilled in an expanding group.
Apple has created a culture of exceptional quality. Zappos has created a culture based on staggering customer service. Netflix has taken a business model that shifted from mailed DVD’s to streaming movies yet maintained a culture of service and innovation. All these companies and countless more use their culture to reinforce their brand and provide a sense of unity and strength for their employees, and at the same time, for their customers.
Over the last few years, meltmedia has grown. A lot. We accommodated several new team members into our Tempe office by shifting furniture and putting desks in strange locations. Although things were cramped, we made it work.
Fast forward to October 2012. Our desks are much more comfortably arranged, but our growing company is now split between two office spaces, dubbed meltEast and meltWest.
Of course, a major concern was keeping the two offices connected. Even though it’s only a 3-minute walk from one door to the other, the distance has changed our work habits. We no longer see every face each day and, especially during the summer months, a phone call or IM is much preferred to the walk across the parking lot.
We value feeling like a big family, and the following few changes have been helping us keep the distance as small as possible.
Last weekend our resident tinkerer, Andy, set up a meltmedia Hack Day. We took over the meltEast kitchen with plenty to play with: Arduinos and Arduino kits, LEGO Mindstorms, LEGO Star Wars sets, and of course, some code hacking as well. There was plenty of power strips, cables, pizza, and QT sodas to go around, and the day resulted in only one blown out surge protector. It was a fun and relaxing way to get some work done and to start (or feed) an electronics hobby.
About two years ago, meltmedia sponsored a local event called Ignite Phoenix. Being a sponsor, they allowed us to have a 30-second video played before the show. Wanting to make an impression, we brainstormed, wrote, filmed and ended up with The Art of Analog Computing. At closer to 5 minutes, our video poses the question, “What if your everyday digital interactions were suddenly analog?”
Watch the completed video and view some behind-the-scenes goodies after the jump.