… would look like this.
Just kidding :-D
Having worked in many places. The importance of the actual physical place pales before the importance of other factors. This article is about them, not comfy sofas, sleeping pods or ping-pong tables. Even if they're definitely nice to have.
Over the course of my professional career that started quite some time ago there were several environments that shaped what seems to me like the best place to work at — the offices in Building 3 in a car factory, two start-ups, two corporations (HP, Merck/MSD) and an internet agency. Let’s abstract from what actually it is that I was doing (design for most of the time) and focus on the team, the work itself and personal development.
If you're an individual software development professional let me know how it compares to your point of view.
If you're an environment creator (company owner, employer) sharing how things look from your side of things is appreciated.
No matter the product, people are the most important part of the environment. That's why I'm putting them first. The team should be comprised of individuals with a passion for what they do. Easy to work with. Able to use critical thinking, give and receive feedback.
They want the product they're working on to be successful. Be it their own or client's. To do that, they're willing to try out new things. And learn from what does not work. They understand the importance of having a process and are actively working towards improving it continuously.
Understanding that it’s about what you accomplish not how much time you spend at work the team does not religiously expect people to be in the office 9–5.
Also we're all human. And some of us found a partner or might even have kids. While the amount of time spent with my colleagues makes them my second family — and I regard them as such — my first family still needs me more.
What we do
We develop software obviously. Not because we can. Because there's something in the world that can be improved by adding more software to it.
This requires design thinking. And data.
The team understands that delivering an outcome using software is not about the surface layer (usually called UI). It's not even about the best solution to the problem. Let me say it with an image. I found it on a slide of Stephen Anderson's presentation which led me to this article delving deeper.
My team would understand the need to start with a good problem definition. And they would not be lulled by someone's word. They would demand data.
Data has the power to invalidate hypotheses. Exactly what we in Computer Science need. I believe that any team that truly wants their product to succeed will inevitably crave data. Feedback from the environment about how well does it improve the world with regards to the intended outcome.
There was a reason why I saved this topic up until the end. It's the most important. Why? Because — mastery— the urge to be better at something is one of the three the innate motivators of every human being on the planet. That is beside autonomy and purpose. If reading Drive by Daniel Pink sounds too long, you might consider watching this “short version” ;)
To nurture my personal development I discovered a mix of daily work challenges (and no, designing a log-in page is not a challenge for me anymore) and professional conferences and workshops do the trick for me. Why I need both? That's a great question.
Our field is rapidly evolving. New technologies are hitting the market every few years. And spread faster. And faster.
This is why no amount of challenges I face alone will prepare me for what's coming next. In the technological space or in the craft we today call UX.
There needs to be a balance. Meeting people who experienced and thought about the other issues and solved challenges other than I did are extremely beneficial. This means attending international conferences and receiving training from the best in the field.
I wouldn't expect anyone to know what I need to develop myself. Can handle that. Just give me a budget and trust me to use it well.
There is no summary here. Move along.
I tried to write one but there is no end. Yet. As the budhists say:
The path is the goal.
Here's hoping you enjoyed reading it at least as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Sharing is caring ;)