How Hootsuite’s Engineering Culture Is Their Competitive Advantage

How does your company culture impact your product? Does it matter?

Yes it does.

“Culture is the space between people. It is something that is very easy to feel but hard to articulate” — Noel Pullen.

Noel describes that culture develops as you believe in things, where this belief then becomes a way of thinking about things, which then turns into actions, and becomes a way of life.

Growing the Hootsuite Team

In 2013, Noel was tasked with doubling the Hootsuite team. He had to approach the job market with the mentality that Hootsuite needed to stand out and that they had the ideal work environment like no other. This belief continues to this day.

Working Out Loud

This kind of work environment encourages people to openly say what’s working and what’s not.

Here are some of the benefits of Working Out Loud.

  1. Psychological Safety: By working out loud, team members don’t have to censor themselves, and often those who speak outperform others and are able to deliver the best.
  2. People want to help other people: they’re more engaged and more productive.
  3. Trust by default: Trust that they’re acting in the best interests of the company and team.

If you’re looking to implement the Working Out Loud method, try these 3 activities:

1. Tap into the power of your people

Look to the people building your company to surface their ideas, enthusiasm, passion, subject matter, and expertise.

2. Take their information and experiment

See what happens, reflect, and adapt for continuous improvement. This is a great resource for sharing information like how they failed and how they succeeded. It is a super participative way for people in your organization.

3. Give away your expertise

Share the tools that you create, try to open-source them, and share your experiences through your blog. To help get the word outside of your organization, speak at meetups, conferences, universities, and invite other organizations to share information with you. Share your expertise with others to help benefit the community.

Scaling it beyond yourself and into a competitive advantage

Noel recommends to lead your organization by example. Encourage that mentality through incentives or expectations.

The feeling of getting help, to share a solution, and to challenge that solution with a better one, feels good and helps the team grow together. With this process they will begin to change the way they feel about working out loud, where this feeling lasts and spreads.

Thought that working at Hootsuite sounded amazing? Try it yourself and use the steps and lessons you’ve learned here and start implementing them into your own business’ work culture. And although the experience might be a bit different than how Hootsuite does it, your employees will definitely thank you for opening up.

As a longtime Hootsuite user, I was happy to see the company culture reflected in the product and their marketing. But I’m interested in knowing about your thoughts.

What are you raring to test drive within your own company or team? Share it in the comments below!


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