Top 10 lessons learned from Booking.com’s CIO Brendan Bank on culture and business:

14th of January 2016, Oil List Fireside Chat

Brendan Bank is the Chief Information Officer at Booking.com, a very successful Dutch tech company that has pushed the ambition bar for all tech companies in the Netherlands. With the Oil List, a group of ambitious entrepreneurs, we visited Brendan for a fireside chat, and we learned a lot, like a looooooot. Especially about creating the right culture. Check out our top lessons below:

1. It’s about the people and the culture, and you cannot copy that.

We used to be a very closed company. Interviews or fireside chats like this, were not possible. We didn’t want to share anything if it wasn’t necessary. Since a couple of years we learned that we have an unique culture, and well you can’t copy that!

2. To build a product to get global adoption, you need access to other cultures.

Only somebody from Japan knows what kind of quality the user experience of our applications needs to be. So we bring people from all over the world to our office in Amsterdam. Seventy different nationalities fill our office.

3. Create social structures

You have to provide your people social structures, so they won’t be lost in this new country. We organise coffee groups, sport groups, play groups and so on. There is a buddy system. All to provide a necessary social catch-net.

4. Serve good food

Quality of life is very important. With seventy different nationalities, you need all kinds of food. The Dutch love their bread, but for almost all other nationalities, bread for lunch is like a second breakfast. So we provide warm and tasty meals.

Booking.com’s uses the following three C’s to hire somebody:

5. Commercial attitude

We want developers to understand the business side of things. if you’re almost religiously following one certain programming language, or other program rules, not the place for you. So we hire people with a business mind-set. The need of the consumer is always leading.

6. Craft

The second C we focus on when hiring a new employee is CRAFT. We want people who are really good at your craft. For newcomers this can be very intimidating. All these high-level craftsmen. You have to manage that.

7. Communication

The third C is Communication. In order to build products in co-creation you have to be able to articulate what you want to attain in what way. One basic requirement is speaking proper English. Something we’ve learned through experience.

8. Everything is co-created

This means there is NO ROOM for BIG EGO’s. Brendan Bank’s believe is: The sum of the parts are larger when you co-create. A consequence is that working at home is very limited. As your input is needed in your team.

9. Strategy top-down, Details bottom-up

We build a company-wide strategic plan, and develop within tracks. Tracks consist of many teams, for example ten. Each team has a maximum of 6 people. There is no or very light management. Always a developer or product owner. No manager as such. They have the lead on the process, not the content.

10. Every failure is a valuable lesson

Everything we develop are experiments. And we always learn the most when we fail. The most difficult part: sharing those lessons with all teams.

Thank you Brendan Bank for all these lessons!

Ps. Sounds good huh! Check out their open jobs

Learn more about Oil List here!

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