Over the past several months we've been hiring a lot of people. So this weekend I decided to put together a little orientation power point that our HR people can eventually use to help introduce new people to the company.
One of the things I wanted to put in there (and did) was our overall philosophy. "The Stardock Way" if you will. I've posted about it before but I've modified it as I've learned more on business and life in general.
Here's the 10 rules we use to guide ourselves by:
- Nice Guys Finish First.
- Our customers are part of our team.
- Perfect is the enemy of good
- Win people over through kindness.
- Success is based on having lots of other people wanting you to succeed.
- Loyalty matters.
- Ideas are cheap.
- Do not create work for other people.
- Don’t sweat what “other people” are doing.
- Learn from your competitors
Nice Guys Finish First...
I mean that. People who are ruthless and mean and take no prisoners don't end up doing well in general. It's hard enough to succeed as-is, it's even harder if you end up with people against you. The whole "Godfather" style strategies I sometimes see people forget ignore the fact that the lead character in that inherited his empire. If you're pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, you should be cultivating friends and the best way to do that is to be an honest, decent human being.
Our customers are part of our team
I like to make software where I get real-time feedback from the people who would buy it. All our betas allow customers to give feedback. We do not usually have "free" betas. We almost always require the person to pre-order because we want to hear from people who are interested in the game enough to be a customer.
Perfect is the enemy of good
This is really the most important rule in many respects. The # of people who fail because they don't know when to stop working on something is immense. Even as I made my power point, I saw the temptation to start tweaking the order of the slides, the layout, and other things that would have added little to the presentation but increased the effort significantly. What happens is that people who strive only for perfection either never finish or -- far more commonly -- never try because they know how much work something is.
Win people through kindness
This is a hard one for me personally. My instinct is to vigorously defend my positions. I can be pretty aggressive on-line. But in general, it's far better to try to win people over by being a decent person than to beat them down with a superior argument or through force.
This is really a crucial one. To be successful, you really need other people to want you to be successful. The best way to do that is to set things up so that other people do well when you do well. Make every situation a win-win situation so that as you benefit, they benefit. And therefore they have a vested interest in you benefiting.
Being loyal to people and companies usually pays off in the long run. Not always, but it's come up often enough that I'm a big believer in being loyal which is my natural inclination anyway.
Ideas are cheap
One of my biggest pet peeves are people who think ideas are somehow hard to come up with. I regularly get submissions for product ideas, game ideas, etc. in which they just need our company to "build it". "OH really? Thanks! Wow, all we have to do is take your 10 page idea and spend the next 2 years of our lives making it and you'll share any revenue 50/50?"
Everyone has ideas. Many people have good ideas. Ideas are meaningless. It's the people who can make an idea into a reality that matter. That's where the value comes in.
Do not create work for others
I have to be careful about how I present this. Managers should always make sure that those who work with them (i.e. answer to them) have plenty of work. That's not what I'm talking about. What I am talking about are people who come up with ideas or commit someone else who doesn't answer to them to work. In big companies, sales people are notorious for this kind of thing as they promise a customer features that they don't have to work on.
What we always frown on are people who come up with "ideas" and then try to aggressively get someone else to actually do the work to make it happen when those people don't work for them.
Another way of putting this is -- nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it.
Don't sweat what other people are doing
One of the quickest ways to kill any joy out of the workplace is to get a few people who worry about "fairness" in the workplace. They poke and nose around to see if anyone else is getting some perk or getting anything more than they think they deserve. Those people are poison and I make it my business to try to look for that sort of thing where I work and eliminate it when found.
It doesn't hurt you if someone else's monitor is a little bigger. Or if someon else gets to work at home on Tuesdays. Or if someone else's PC is 10% faster than yours. Or if someone else has a nicer car.
If you're worried about fairness too much then you're doomed and should just get used to being a bitter person. Unless your management is clueless (of course, people who worry about fairness all the time always think management is blind) you can be pretty sure that they are making sure that there is a general equity going on.
We reward people who work hard and get more done. And we don't reward people who are doing the bear minimum. If John is coming in sometimes at 11am it may be because John was working until 3am the night before from home and that management is aware of it. If Sally is working home on Tuesday it may mean they are taking a slight salary hit for it or their job isn't affected by location as much or that they're not in any sort of crunch time. There's a lot of reasons and as soon as you start sweating what other people are doing, you create an atmosphere where you have "rules" that make everyone have to abide by the lowest common denominator.
Learn from your competitors
I generally assume my competitors know more than I do. I try to see what others are doing and see if I can learn something from them. Sometimes I don't but often I do. Never assume that your competitors are stupid or don't know what they're doing. If they're successful, there's probably a good reason for it.