During a couple of weeks in April 2018, Chegg collaborated with Monday on a unique project, with the aim of sharing cultural and professional expertise with each other, by way of exchanging an employee to work full time in his counterpart’s shoes, to learn about engineering processes and figure out what each company does right, and where it can improve.
I’m Rodik, a software engineer from Chegg, and these were my insights from working at Monday for two weeks.
Part 1 (first days)
The first thing you notice when entering the Monday office is dashboards.
Dozens of them.
Every single wall is covered with live updating dashboards, each meticulously designed to give insight toward some end goal. People gathering around these TV’s and discussing over graphs, charts and numbers.
Some of these dashboards indicate technical details, such as server health and uptime, while others concentrate on sales numbers and user counts. Others yet show the faces of the devs with the highest test coverage, or those of the leading salespersons of the week.
I mean, dashboards are pretty cool, but why go through the effort and expense of having this type of obsession in your culture? What is the end goal?
The dashboards are the symptom of the company’s culture of giving their employees goals instead of tasks. The thing that matters most to each employee is “How does my daily work impact my goals?”.
While at Chegg, a developer might feel successful if he’d delivered a feature on time and bugfree, a Monday dev (or designer, or PM) would measure his success by how his work impacted the KPI set by the company. For that to work, KPI’s need to be defined, measured, and celebrated.
*KPI — Key Performance Indicator (a measurement of the success of a certain product / person).
For that purpose, my task for the sprint is to build these nice people a new dashboard, the epitome of which will be to feature a KPI, and the team’s progress toward improving it.
The first couple of days have been quite overwhelming, the teams are cross-disciplinary, there’s a huge open-space, everyone is an “everything owner”, everyday is happy-hour day, and where the hell is the QA team?
Part 2 (week 2)
They say that you should “never get high on your own supply”. They’re wrong.
(Well… if by “your own supply” they mean your productivity service, and by get high they mean “get super fucking productive”)
You get a strong feeling of engagement from every employee you meet at Monday. It’s like every single one of them could represent the company’s interest on any level, be it on a business level, talking about long-term goals and business strategies like a CEO, right down to the software component level, ready to dispense a tech-talk over lunch.
Which is surprising when you consider that the company has grown 100% in the past year. Many of the people have only worked for a few months in the company, or maybe just recently moved to a new team, but they always seem to be on top of what’s going on with the company.
I asked around, trying to figure out how come everyone is so savvy about everything around them?
The answers seemed to revolve around two factors: Transparency and Monday.
Transparency seems absolute in the company, to the point of inspiring awe. I guess that when the goals you set for your employees are business driven, it only makes sense to treat everyone like a CEO, and give them all the information they need to make informed decisions.
But that’s not even half of it, transparency in Monday is more than just making business data accessible.
Every morning each employee receives an SMS message which summarizes yesterday’s financial gains and an update on the company’s prime KPI. This puts the data right in the people’s hands, with a stark reminder that your work has a direct impact on the company’s business.
Monday was the other cause for the high engagement among employees, which also ties in to the weird beginning of this post.
Monday (the product) somehow blurs the lines between who is a developer, who is a product manager, a designer, IT or HR. It is used for everything from task management and project planning, to communication, documentation, backlogging, and even story-telling. It’s like a social network except instead of cat pictures and food-porn, you get to have a meaningful conversation about your products, processes or events that happen in the company.
So there’s no surprise that the company is full-on engaged with the product. They find meaning in their work, and it doesn’t feel like a chore to use it. I’m looking at you, Jira. >:(
An amusing example of why it’s so great when you get to use your own product: at a sprint planning meeting we’ve gone over some tickets, and the team lead said: “check out this feature I just implemented”, while selecting a few tickets, and assigning a single value to all of them at once.
This might sound mundane, but it immediately put a smile on my face. It made me think of Monday as some sort of Von Neumann machine that uses itself to build and improve itself.
Bonus — Meetless Tuesday
Every Tuesday is #MeetLessTuesday, where no meetings are allowed to take place.
You want something? Take it offline. Go up to your co-worker, send an email, go fish. Just get shit done.
I wonder if this is a result of a serious pain in the past.
Part 3 (End)
By the end of this project, I couldn’t help getting caught up in the Monday spirit.
The company has a very infectious enthusiasm about its product and its way of life. There’s just something in the air that makes you feel like a part of something big.
That said, there’s a special breed of people working at Monday that makes this all work out.
The extreme velocity and responsibility given to the employees can be stressful if you are not completely involved with the company’s spirit.
They care deeply about their work, and they are not afraid to sacrifice much for their company’s success. They definitely work very hard, but they play just as hard.
I came out to Monday to learn how can my team at Chegg do better as a team, but I found something more than that. I managed to get attached to the people, get hooked on their culture, and respect their work.
I hope I left as much an impact on the people at Monday as they have on me. I know I’ll definitely carry a little bit of Monday in my heart for years to come.