Discussion on Open Source Culture with DROdio, Kate MacAleavey, Joseph Jacks

hey everybody my name is Joseph Jacks I’m
really honored to be here with rodeo and Kate at really exciting company called
armory and we’re here to talk about open source cultures and what creating an
open source culture really means I’m a pretty big advocate of commercial open
source as a movement sort of abstractly and as a company category so excited to
ask rodeo and Kate a few questions and kind of have a conversation about
armories experiences and how open source influences culture we Jordan Kate do you
want to give quick intros on yourself when we can like dive right in nice
awesome my name is Kate maca levy I’m head of
culture and leadership development here at armory my name is Jerry oh I’m a
janitor sweep the floors whatever needs to be done also the CEO in our suite so
armory is is a cost company commercial open source software companies are
fundamentally different in nearly every way compared to closed core
fundamentally proprietary software are technology companies from the lens of
culture what are the top three differences that you’ve observed at
armory so I think what I would propose is that I’d like to I like to actually
say let’s start with the common vocabulary because everyone uses the
word culture I think maybe a little bit differently so maybe we can talk a bit
about how we’re thinking about culture broadly as a term and and Kate has a lot
of experience here and then we can circle into at a cost company what does
that mean for us so maybe I’ll set the state’s your of it and then you can take
us deeper you know there’s this great saying that culture is read-only and a
lot of people when I talk to other CEOs they talk about trying to influence the
culture or impacting the culture I think my favorite thing about culture is that
it’s like a shadow that follows the company everywhere the people everywhere
and you can yell at your shadow but it’s not going to change anything so really
when we say culture I think we’re talking about the output of something
that’s much more intentional and sometimes not sometimes it’s it’s it’s
done intentionally and some of they just kind of happens but then trees
is culture so I think about it more as a you know as a very complex formula where
there’s a lot of variables in this formula that lead to a number and the
number is what we say culture we say a company has a good culture because the
number is X then really it’s about all of the the variables that define that
number so it’s things like what is the psychological safety of the people at
the company how competent are they how well are they being on board it how
are they working together how intentional are they in their actions
and their and the ways they behave towards each other you know there’s
there’s all these variables that it’s kind of interesting we don’t really have
a good language to describe the sophistication that it takes to then end
up in good culture we just use these examples of this this company starts to
surge lunch so they have a great culture but that’s just one of so many things
that create this like operating canvas one of the reasons that we hired came
into our room is because we believe that it’s important to us to be very
intentional about building that operating canvas for creating optimizing
those those those parts of the formula to end up with good culture so I’d
actually like to see if we can kind of start with a common vocabulary and maybe
share how are we trying to be intentional about the way we think about
those things and then go into the cost piece yeah I think about it really is
the norms behaviors languages systems really like the collective actions of a
community and what we put up with and what we don’t put up with like at the
end of the day JJ and just like what are the behaviors that like we we want to
have and where the behaviors were not okay with like really coming down to
that and like really what small tweaks do we consistently make with each other
and with our culture to show up in the way that makes us feel like we’re
representing ourselves that we’re proud to be who we are and also that were you
know we’re unique we’re not trying to copy other people like we may study
other cultures and look at other instances of success so it really it’s
like how do we how I think about it with how do we leverage the strengths and
unique content within this organization and bring that to life and be really
clear and intentional about it and I think armory does an exceptional job
about every detail really being thoughtful so that’s just kind of my my
thought around it loosely so the this matters so much to us is because
like you said JJ we’re commercializing an open-source project that project is
spinnaker and spinnaker exists to help the world innovate faster it’s a
software delivery platform and there’s built by Netflix and Netflix has a
really interesting culture you know add Netflix you know developers have access
to production and that’s not the case in most formal 2000 companies and so we we
had this term of like you know a great culture at Netflix well what is it what
does that really mean what enables that and how can it come in like armory bring
that really that culture that is Netflix that is represented in this project in
this platform into other large little 2,000 organizations and have them be
successful with it so the reason that we are trying to be very intentional about
the way that we build this culture that we that we make these choices is because
we believe we have fundamentally an extra-special responsibility to live
these values that were then productizing and bringing into these large companies
and so to talk about that a little bit the I actually think of it as to to kind
of flip sides of the coin like again in yang so there’s there’s spinnaker the
platform and spinnaker the platform the way that I really would describe it is
it is a sophisticated way to manage risk in production it allows large companies
to make things safe to try that would otherwise not be safe to try to get a
little bit technical for a second let’s just take the example of for example
canary deployments so in most large companies if I’m delivering software to
production I’m terrified that I’m going to nuke the user base with that feature
change and when that this is that I end up with a culture where I have a lot of
integration testing unit testing menu QA oughta make you a manual judgments dps
saying this is not going to go out until I approve it because the cost is so high
of having to failure in production a platform like spinnaker allows
application development teams to get access out-of-the-box to Canary
deployments which is the ability to limit the blast radius of a change so
when I’m a developer and I write code and you know because I added to the
world maybe only 1% of the population sees it and so with a platform I’m
starting to codify the culture of enabling of the application developer to
have more autonomy to them for them to have more freedom for them to
yeah they’re really the part the code that they’re writing out into the world
with velocity well the company is able to control the damage or the blast
radius that that one developer can do and so obviously this is balanced right
it’s it’s aligning to have an ops but that platform is what gives the company
the ability to say I think I feel safe now to change my culture and give
application others more control and more of an ability to have what they want
which is the ability to impact the world while still maintaining you know not
nuking that the user is so the platform gives the company the ability to manage
risk and correct some more sophisticated ways which then gives license to the
company to start to change the culture so we see these two things are like
incredibly interconnected things which is why you want to be so attention about
the way that we build our culture I think this is one of the things about
commercializing an open-source platform that’s different from other companies
there are so many ways that we are have obligations to people that most
companies don’t and those obligations also create opportunities reactions to
our employees we actually curse also try and we call ourselves a tribe because we
believe we really need to invest not only in the professional but in the
individual as a whole and not only in the individual as a whole but the person
the individual goes home to every day because if someone’s going home and
their spouse or their family member is saying why you working started this
company I don’t think you should be it’s really hard coming through their best
work and usually most companies they don’t care that much but at a cost
company that might be an engineer that’s a core committer to a project and that
core committers ship goes with the engineer if she or he leaves the company
so we have to be thinking about how to empower the edges of the organization
and how how to make them just really invest in happy in their work and how to
be recognizing them as people so this gets to the work that Kay is doing both
at armory and also in these large companies that are trying to figure out
how to innovate faster and transform because eventually we’re doing it for
them so I don’t know Katie’s going to talk a little bit about how we’re doing
that well I’m happy to also just bring like the emotional lens and some of that
language because to me like that’s where I’m coming from and like thinking about
the three differences that you’re asking JJ you know what I think is so unique is
we’re not functioning from a place of fear right look what we’re doing is bold
and it’s brave and the feeling of pride is very different like it’s a different
type of pride right cuz it’s for the community this is like hey let’s lower
our barriers it’s transparent as we can with our culture with the external
culture right like as long as we are continuously learning and adding value
and like and sharing I usually don’t see why like we need to have our defenses up
right like we’re not trying to protect anything there’s nothing sacred here
it’s like how do we make like everything better not just armory honestly when I
really was thinking about it a few days ago like the amount of heart in this
company and the people you just feel it you know so I ask people like have you
been in toxic culture before I was like oh hell yeah and look you know it you’ve
walked into it you’ve experienced it and you’ve also probably been in really
great cultures and you just you know it and you feel it as you see how people
treat other people and you see how they show up for people and so only think
about the three big differences right now versus like a closed company versus
an open one right it’s just it’s such a brave space one of our recruiters kind
of coined this term like it’s a really great space to be in because we’re
opening ourselves up or more vulnerable taking that risk because we believe that
the learning is more important than us like keeping something secret to
ourselves mmm this is like really profound stuff
and and I I was thinking about one element that separates closed core or
sort of like fundamentally proprietary completely proprietary technology
companies from commercial open source software companies are sort of open core
oriented companies and it’s in it’s like something Jody was saying around the
engineers kind of having that transfer ability this is the software or the
technology in commercial open source companies is kind of decoupled from the
company and it has that transfer ability so many companies can form and nurture
and invest in capture value around spinnaker for example but armory is
viewed as highly credible trusted center of gravity and commercialization partner
to prizes and to companies looking to run spend occur in complex environments
and so on how do you how do you sort of think about all the other functions even
beyond engineering like if people that basically work at armory that learn
about spinnaker or learn about the open source technology that themselves
developed that sort of skills skills transferability that no you know
obviously would be generalizable and maybe technology and sort of like
looking into software industry overall but quickly to your open your open
correlative spinnaker yeah I think you know is where you and your questions
like what’s one of the hardest things that we’re trying to teach and have to
train right I think engineers technically have a better understanding
of what the growth mindset do you know growth mindset at all yeah I know but
I’ve been a bit about it but unpack that for for me yeah both nice that’s really
funny from Carol Dweck’s work from Stanford and what I love there are a few
different parts to the theory but really it’s around like really focusing on the
learning and being okay and instead of being so obsessed with failure and
letting that be the thing that pulls you down it’s just like great what did you
learn how do we iterate how do we build upon it right it’s really building
resiliency into a system into a company and so engineers I feel like have early
training in that so this what we’re doing this a lot more sense to the
engineers but they knew about marketing you have sales and everybody else who’s
like terrified of failure we’ve been trained our whole lives be scared is
that we build like an entire community that’s just like what did you learn and
like what how do you keep going and how quickly can you bounce back from that
and add value to what you’re trying to do so it’s me like that’s one of the
biggest nuggets or like really implementing that growth mindset across
the entire company oh because again once we’re really focusing on the learning
you’re really starting to speed up in your progress and then also just
thinking about how to like contribute elsewhere so it’s not just like in your
team but how do you think more cross-functionally how do you think more
globally how do you think about the whole open-source community so the
engineers definitely have a leg up here and that’s why I’m always like sharing
with people like hey if you have questions like go talk to the engineers
like ask them bring them in like this is the fun part about the collaborative
process but I think for me that’s like one of the big things I think about a
lot so I’ll go deeper there with two specific examples one is the way that we
are codifying this culture in a software platform and the other is in internal to
our armory so I’ll start with former we were sitting down with Jeff Rothschild
12th engineer at Facebook was a you know or early engineering leader helps scale
Facebook and he said something really interesting about the culture that he
really worked to create a Facebook which was when an engineer took Facebook down
and he had to give the engineer the talk about the fact that the engineer just
took the entire site down the talk was how can we improve the way that we work
so that you or anybody in the company can make this mistake in the future and
it won’t impact the organization so it’s not about plane it’s not about being
wrong it’s what’s it’s what Kate’s saying how can we learn from this and
and when you think about it in that way you’re either succeeding or you’re
learning and learning is all about retrospective and being very good about
doing blameless retros which I think a lot of commit is inspired to do and are
pretty typically not good at doing well well that that that that approach is
codified in spinnaker as cows engineering cows engineering is
literally the idea that you know you’ve got Kasim he going in and turning off
infrastructure and seeing if the application falls over so these two
things are just so interconnected in our world which is why they’re so important
for us to live so the way one example of the way that we’re living that
internally is this idea of a common experimentation platform it’s actually
kind of mind-blowing to me I don’t know of any sort of like SAS tool if anybody
wants to build this we would love to consume this but when when someone says
the word experiment an engineer usually means something very different than like
any kind of executive right an engineer will typically be talking more about
scientific method I would probably save an hypothesis and like measurable
success criteria I’m gonna have it defined and they I’m gonna look at
whether or not that process was successful I’m gonna retrospect on that
a sales person might say I’m gonna run an experiment with pricing and that just
means I’m gonna try ten different prices and I’m just gonna see what happens
right so we really even the importance of defining the word experiment in a
consistent way across the organization when somebody says I’m gonna run an
experiment then that means something really special to us what it means is
we’ve got a way of working let’s call it the golden path it’s it’s not the only
way it’s not the policy we don’t say you have to work this way it’s just the best
way that we know it’s the best practice for whatever it is somebody wants to run
an experiment on that they’re going to go off roading
off the golden path so this might for recruiting right like if you’re on a
hiring manager you can use the recruiting team that’s the building path
but you as a hiring manager at armory we don’t tell you that you can’t go off and
do it yourself but if you’re going to do that shoot it as an experiment where
you’re going to define what you’re looking to improve and learn so that we
can then go back and improve the golden path so in this way people are welcome
to go try new things and if they don’t if they’re not successful in those
things it’s something they failed it’s that they learn something and one of
those things that they learned so we can then define another set of experiments
around that and so having a common experimentation framework within the
company across functions is very important to us we’re hacking Trello
it’s really you know a very kind of hockey thing we’ve got a trailer card
which is like our experiment template and people can just copy that card right
there right there experiments out I’d love to have a SAS
platform which modifies this I don’t think that it exists I don’t know of it
but the important thing here is how can we ensure that people understand that
they have a licence they don’t have to ask permission they have a license to go
off-roading try improving the default way that we’re doing things so that they
can then make the port better and then we’re getting really good at integrating
on that so a lot of smaller they’re just steps to make whatever we’re doing
better with it whether it’s recruiting or whether it’s how we build the product
like anything whether it’s the way that we sell and anything can be improved
that makes sense there’s there’s about for start-up ideas
in there Jodi I want to I want a segue to something well you’ve touched on both
that I think it would be super interesting to a lot of people how does
an open-source culture provide a competitive advantage for a company in
today’s fast evolving world yeah I think what is really interesting
about it it’s like I said the word resiliency I’m just like becoming a
resilient organization so when people are feeling empowered their self
empowered right like you’re not relying on like it’s Reliance’s we talked about
engineering chaos right or chaos engineering maybe both and right like
it’s like it’s like the CEOs not in town or if all of the execs and managers are
Bhama can you still do your job do you still have the ability to make decisions
right I’m going all right like the one closest to the work and you’re sensing
something that’s really big and important like hopefully you feel
capable and conference to do something about it and so it’s
really being able to respond really quickly to what’s happening right I
think within the complexity of the environment that we’re in it’s so
important to learn how to sense and respond like I say this all of the time
send it to respond and start by starting and when we define experience I really
push for small moves over Big Meadows write really small things make it safe
to try and start as small as you can but you’re going to quickly start looking
and finding data but I think that’s just really important at the resiliency as
well as yeah just feeling empowered to actually go make a difference what do
you think yeah so I will I’m gonna build on on what you’re saying here and I’m
gonna also this pie is very perfectly back to the company that we’re building
so the reason armory exists is to have the world innovate faster through code
we we believe that software is the highest leverage way to improve humanity
when software drives our cars were a thousand times safer software’s not
flying our planes I think we’re we’re all starting to see the impact of
software in our lives and so we want to help the world should better software
faster we are commercializing spinnaker to help companies go from idea to
feature in production in minutes instead of months this really means that in
order to do this companies need to be able to I think of it like strict minded
like they need to be able to churn through ideas rapidly it’s the software
is very non-obvious it’s not obvious that it’s a good idea for you to let me
into your house when you’re not home rummage through your fridge in your
pantry use your shower in your soap sleep in your bed and then pay you $100
that sounds like a pretty terrible idea but it’s Airbnb it’s a thirty billion
dollar company and because software it’s because the the next great feature is
non-obvious when a company needs to be able to get very good at is churning
through ideas quickly like a strip mining machine instead of painting for
gold where you’re just looking for one or two cold maggots you need to go to
get throw the bad ideas with velocity to find the good ones and so this is like
that Hobbs matter so much this is why having that deployment velocity and
Netflix deploying 7,000 times a day instead of once a month it’s such a big
like strategic competitive advantage well in order to do that we believe you
need a platform like spinnaker that does what we said earlier to
manage risk in production in more sophisticated way so that you can churn
through ideals quickly instead of having VP say I’m going to not allow this to be
about the production until I approve it so you can find those golden nuggets
which are the good ideas but you also need to make sure that the employees in
the company and specifically the application developers are empowered and
have agency and I don’t have a vested interest in digging into that innovation
and those ideas to to to that innovate to then figure it out and so we really
believe in this concept of empowering the edges of the organization like that
is our litmus test should something be centralized or decentralized what’s
going to empower the edges of the organization the best should something
be transparent how do we most effectively empower the edge so the edge
is the person has the most context because it’s not obvious they’re the
ones with the most data so they’re the ones they’ll be able to make the
decision that most effectively to innovate the most effectively so from a
cultural perspective what this means there’s a great book called brave new
work not brave new world brave new work by Erin Dignan and this book talks about
a stoplight versus a roundabout culture a stoplight culture is a traditional
command-and-control corporate culture where employees are told when to stop
when you go when it’s run left they just wait for instruction then told what to
do in a roundabout culture the employees if you’ve ever been in a roundabout in
Paris it’s a lot more stressful to be in a roundabout because you have to merge
with traffic without colliding with traffic and so then a roundabout culture
the employee has a lot more agency then a lot more control more power but a lot
more responsibility as well so when you merge a software platform like spinnaker
that allows a company to turn through ideas faster with a culture that has the
employees showing up carrying about what they’re actually building and being
curious and wanting to innovate that also means that the culture has to not
be command and control it has to be executives that are saying I don’t know
the best answer because it’s not obvious because it’s software innovation it’s a
knowledge economy it’s not building a widget where I know how to build a
widget most effectively its ideas and innovation so as an executive as a
manager my role moves from telling the edge of the information what to do to
instead of empowering the edge to figure it out so I’m more of a coach instead of
telling them what to do I’m more of an enabler I’m more of a
storyteller and trying to like rally everybody towards these common
objectives so every everything changes and this is why it’s a yin and yang
because you need that platform to enable that strip-mining machine need that
culture to get people to actually use it does that make sense
100% and and I think that maybe segues into in terms of like this what it
sounds like it’s like kind of a new organizational design because we’ve
exchanged a little on this Jody oh there’s like halakha seas there’s things
in between you know you know democracy democracy is representative democracies
all different types of governance models but what you kind of touched on this
round about culture and what we’re scratching at with like an open-source
culture kind of hasn’t really been fully defined yet in the industry is in kind
of you so in doing that we’ve always pain points to embracing new things so
for our Murray and your experiences and just general observations kind of
committing to this this path what are the most sensitive aspects or sort of
tricky things about embracing an open-source culture would be you know
financials compensation incentives strategy can you talk about that a
little bit yeah to me the most sensitive is actually so many people haven’t been
empowered their entire lives so to rocket organization maybe after 30 years
40 years and just sit here be like oh you have agency anywhere freedom people
will get terrified they don’t know what to do they feel really out of control
they don’t feel supported but there are a lot of negative emotions that can come
with it so we tried really clear about what we’re expecting and what we’re
trying to create here so people can really self select in and out so we’ve
had just hires that like once you know we were getting really clear about our
environment they’re like oh yeah no but I love command and control like I just
want to sit back I want to be told what to do and I’m like okay that’s totally
okay like good for you there’s so many companies that will help you and I and I
want to point that out like it is okay if that’s just like you need a lot of
structure and you just need that kind of management style totally but that’s just
not what we’re trying to create here and so I think that’s just something that’s
really hard for people to kind of like get their their arms around right
and also of how do we teach that it’s so easy to say agency and empowerment what
does that look like what does it feel like I’m a day-to-day basis how are we
integrating that into our conversations it’s like the smallest behaviors so to
me that’s something that I think about quite often that’s probably more
sensitive than like I haven’t heard a lot actually about our financials and
everything else I’m sure we’ll have our moments we’re certainly not perfect by
any means I don’t want to paint the picture like that but for me that’s what
strikes me yeah so I I completely agree that this is
undefined like I said at the beginning of this I I actually I don’t think that
we even really have the common vocabulary and language to even have the
conversation because once you’re something different everyone it’s
usually just the output of all of this so you knew organizational design I
called it an operating canvas which I got from brave new work so yes if this
is new and different and even calling it an open-source culture is something
that’s really interesting to just play with and kind of see how well it fits
I’ll tell you the things that we believe to be true are things like defaulting to
transparency now that doesn’t mean that everything is transparent it means that
we have to work to make it not be transparent so we’re flipping and we do
that with everything we do we do that with our comp so inside armory our comp
is transparent to everybody at armory we just haven’t found a reason to make it
bead not transparent I have so many CEOs that have told me that they don’t think
that’s gonna scale and I didn’t think that it was even gonna scale to the size
that we’re at now it’s a Series B but it’s been a complete non-issue and do it
because we do it for a cock a couple reasons the first is it’s our culture to
default to transparency unless we can justify not doing it but then we get all
these beautiful benefits like we can ensure that we are paying you know a
woman and a man the same amount to do the same job and everyone in the company
is holding each other accountable to that it’s how much it go she ate harder
and get more pay so you know that there’s all these benefits that we get
from defaulting to transparency you know but also evidences in the way that we
work in slack we we we don’t use email because an email a conversation is
locked in email it’s only the people that have the conversation that can ever
see that we don’t use dams and slack unless we have to so instead we
always try to sort of conversation in the most public channel that we can and
then we add mentioned the people that need to be a part of it and we think of
it as like a push versus pull model like there’s a river of information that’s
flowing you can dip into that River if you want the transparency but you’ll be
out you need to know that can be really overwhelming for people that aren’t like
full-stack employees that really know how to use technology well so this is
where Katie might really self-selecting in we give our investors a lot of
transparency into the company financials we have a bi dashboard that all of our
investors can see as we’re updating it on our ongoing basis so there’s just all
these little little little things that we do to to really empower the edges of
the organization’s to have as much data as possible because you can’t make the
best decisions if you don’t have the data and I think that’s really where it
comes down to again thinking about what’s most effective at the edge of the
organization because it’s the edgelits eliminating because it’s the edge that
has the most context I think like building off of that really we’re
continuously steering right you never just like steer once when you are a
sailboat in the ocean hopefully you don’t I don’t know where you’re gonna
end up exactly right look we’re constantly responding again to the
environment and what’s happening around us and instead of like committing to
something and be like no matter what we’re gonna suffer and stick to this
path even if you’re like going to the rocks right and a lot of companies do
that so there’s a lot of anxiety and uncertainty that comes with this type of
work in this type of environment so if that is something if you’re like dying
for certainty I say the company all of the time like I’m okay with your
discomfort like I’m comfortable with your discomfort because we have to sit
in this ambiguity that’s very very high right if you don’t find it exciting if
that doesn’t light you up that is like bring that spark to your
eye like probably not the right environment for you oh you you have to
be excited by that otherwise like you’re gonna feel really crappy when you go
home and like the human brain loves certainty we were all looking for
patterns right look we’re designed in a certain way so there’s so much you can
hold on to and right now there’s like a craving especially as you scale were
like Oh structure structure structure and we have to push back against these
natural inclinations that we have to make sure that we’re staying like agile
and lean and responsive and not giving in to these like very primal parts of
our brain that are dying for certainty it’s always easier to say no it’s always
easier to say no than say how can I start from a yes yeah and
still look even like we have to figure out our org structure right like right
now we’re very much like dealing with our we have a typical hierarchical
top-down structure right for our culture and like what we believe in is not that
so weird feel the real tension about how does our structure really reflect our
culture and it’s a conversation we have to have and we have to figure out we
have to iterate on but that’s just like that’s the reality of what we’re trying
to do like I think that’s a really important part here which is we don’t
believe that we’ve figured this all out like you’re saying this is new like you
know causes new open-source cultures are new and how do we need to iterate to be
very good how do we be very good at it er ating so that we can continually be
improving this is where the common experimentation culture comes in to you
know make sure that if somebody wants to try something differently they can
because they might go to make it better as we don’t have all the answers and
it’s interesting when when a new tribalism where a try we Power Cells a
tribe so an employee is a tribal armory when a new tribal starts the first thing
that I say to that person is you know you’re used to entering a company where
you’re not allowed to do anything until you are flip that and understand that
you are empowered to do whatever you see needs to be done from the very first day
that you’re here and in fact we encourage you to do that and if you use
something wrong then we’re gonna learn from that and it’s okay for you to cause
a problem when you’re trying to make something better because that’s an
opportunity for us to learn and then improve the organization so we’re really
empowering exciting and like Kanan saying scary and I’m all wrapped up in
one thing when people walk in I think it’s an incredibly high leverage way to
build companies and companies at the end of the day are just a group of people
that get together to build a product or service and vast majority of companies
are the exact opposite of what we’ve been talking about here they’re you know
people that have to be told every last detail what the definition of their job
is and how to execute so I have two more questions and I think there’s sort of
both broad questions but they build on what we’ve been talking about over the
last few minutes and then we kind of wrap up but the first question would be
you mentioned your stores like evolving this as
armory grows your Series B company now you’re not you know a seed stage company
that you know feud with a few people so what is what is this kind of open source
culture look like inside of an early stage company as compared to a growth
stage company you know I actually think I don’t know similar and different of
course the smaller you are like I actually think an early stage startup is
probably more open source perhaps than like any other stage just because you’re
you’re greedy you’re hungry you’re willing to try anything the engineers
are selling they’re flying around just talking to people like it’s just so like
everyone’s willing to be so hands-on and it’s like rules or responsibilities are
blurred so it’s really like doing whatever it takes and there’s like such
a richness to this as why people are so obsessed with startups right because
it’s like fun and it starts working so I think actually probably the earliest
stage of a startup might be the most the best representation of this because how
do you get bigger more voices you know more organizational debt more technical
debt is piled on no matter what that’s just part of the growth process and so
you know where we’re at right now is really thinking about you know what it’s
going to look like when we’re a lot bigger and how do we educate people as
quickly as possible how do we ramp them up how do we onboard them that’s always
like in the back of our minds and so you know I I can’t even tell you JJ I think
from like week to week right now maybe months to months but like a lot of week
to week and like there’s also a lot of companies that plan excessively you know
I think when I’m traders first questions is like how long is it gonna take like
transform our entire organization and I was like as quickly as you want to go
right like it’s up to you and I can’t do this work for you everyone has to
transform everyone has to change their behavior their way of thinking so it’s
really up to every personal organization and we have to think about how do we get
people experiencing this understanding it embodying it as fast as possible do I
have an answer for you right now no but we can definitely talk later
I guess I guess the way that you’re representing a cait it’s actually a
great way that we could try to figure out how to measure this which is it’s on
it it’s about the magic that companies lose as they scale so startups
these magical environments with this very high trust this very high trust is
a very high context and because people do believe in each other as individuals
and they know the person next to them you know they have the best intentions
they they know that they are competent and capable there’s there’s just a lot
of psychological safety in these small environments because everything’s so
scary outside and you have nothing to lose so it’s you know the small group
against being the impossibility of what they’re trying to get done then fast
forward to accumbens 10,000 people and it’s you know management is saying the
employees on what they’re doing employees are saying that management’s
not providing leadership and there’s no trust
you know application developers don’t have access to production so so really
when we’re trying to figure out is how do we not lose that magic as our Murray
scales and then not only that that’s hard enough right like I don’t know that
any company’s ever figured that out not only are we working to figure that out
how can we then bring that into these little 2,000 companies that are our
customers like they have a fortune for a bank this customer you know we have at
1450 health care company like all these all these big companies that are
realizing that they need to be more like a startup in order to be able to thrive
they need to be able to innovate faster and so it’s this really interesting
dynamic where we’re trying to figure this out as we scale and then productize
this into a platform that we can bring into these companies so they can have it
themselves and I think in like skates saying we we don’t have the answers
we’re still figuring it out one thing that I think is served us very well so
we have three core values and the third core value is that we have a culture of
experimentation including experimenting with our culture and that’s really the
that second part is the key part which is that we it is safe to try we are okay
saying we’re not going to be dogmatic about like if if salary transparency
doesn’t scale we’re not going to you know kill the company and saying that we
have to do that we’re going to figure out how to evolve that by experimenting
through this rapid iteration framework that we talked about earlier so it’s
really about being good at that yeah and also we’re trying to create as
few policies as possible right we’re trying to be as like we don’t want to be
restrictive at all with our environment and what we’re trying to do because
that’s actually not around about culture right it’s like fewer rules the better
but JJ I’ve been in culture transformation for a bit now and what
this requires is a lot of maturity a lot of such awareness a lot of ownership
a lot of responsibility on everybody’s part and like again a lot of people are
coming in where they just have never taken that kind of accountability onto
their shoulders and not like an accountability way that feels badly but
like a pride of being an oasis fully mine like fully owned and getting that
excitement and once that happens when people pass that threshold like I know
that they get it you see them like really light up and being like oh this
is mine and like I’m okay if this goes bad and I’m like hell yes like we’re
there but like those are really tall orders for anybody any adults right like
that level of self-awareness and maturity is big and so I think that’s
something we always have to think about as we scale but again we’re not trying
to build a lot of policy we’re thinking about like what’s HR going to look like
here and how do we keep like aside from the legal parts of it like how do we
build something that’s unique and different that really just fits who we
are and like really reflects the open source community that we’re working with
yeah you know I guess what most final question since we’ve been going for a
bit here would be like just kind of framing you mentioned a lot about
internal transparency and open open kind of data and access to variety of things
there’s also the external dimension to this sort of your external stakeholders
your your customers partners even sharps and competitors the overall ecosystem if
you were to sort of think about framing inner source as referring to something
like you know this kind of open source culture around sharing everything
internally and then open source externally where where you’re
essentially like basically sharing everything with the world or everyone
outside of the company how do you think through the differences and sort of like
what what would be like a transformation towards either end of the spectrum or
embracing both when you’ve seen companies like I think this was social
media management coming up buffer in New York that was a little I mean they
published like lots of their you know internal company data and financials and
comp and stuff publicly you’ve seen you know we’ve seen companies like gitlab
which is the alumni of YC like like armory very transparently sharing
product strategy roadmap pricing everything publicly through an open
source company handbook there’s lots of different approaches to
kind of sharing things externally and internally how do you see the balance of
those two things kind of evolving over time that’s the final big question so I
mean what’s what’s also very interesting about your question is that we are a
company that’s commercializing open-source right so we are bringing the
kind of the specialness of an open-source project like spinnaker into
these large little 2,000 and we are building a profitable business off of
that that that core project that is providing so much value to the world and
so I think this is also where we we don’t yet have the language to really
talk about this and in a defined way here’s here’s how I think about it I
actually just shared with you JJ a screenshot that Kate shared with me so
I’ve put it into this document that we’ve been looking at for questions
called even over statements and Kate shared these guidelines and principles
progress of her perfection small moves over big moves less ever more
experimentation that we’re planning both whenever closed consent over consensus
freedom freedom over control what I think about when we’re trying to achieve
we are trying to help the world innovate faster and we are trying to build an
operational canvas which results in a culture that is the most effective in
doing that the thing that I I know to be true is that the old command and control
the the inner the complete inner source closed way to do that is not the optimal
way to do that just like with the fact that we are commercializing in an open
source project if you go to the other extreme
like like buffer I also don’t know that that is the absolute best way to achieve
that objective I I don’t know we’re figuring it out we are doing it through
these these this concept of a of these even over statements we want to empower
the edges of the organization to innovate we want to productize that and
wanna bring it into big companies how do we iterate to figure that out it feels
like there is this this term open-source culture which is really applicable in
that journey but I don’t know where the boundaries of it are like for example we
haven’t made armories comp externally available to the world that would be
like truly open source we chose to make the boundary
when you are a tribal at armory and you know and the reason was because it was
going to be just like we’ve seen for buffer there’s there’s there’s a lot of
friction when you do that and it it felt like more friction than the benefit that
we would get from that friction but does that mean it’s the right it is rightly
maybe we need to experiment around that and see if we can be more open but I
think that’s the thing it’s like we’re always trying to figure out how we can
be more transparent be more open empower more provide more access right more
empowerment I mean maybe that’s the thing that open-source culture is the
aspiration and we’re just trying to push those boundaries and spark towards full
open source as possible but we don’t really know where that is and most
companies are on the other side of that spectrum yeah when I met oh yeah when
they made rodeo I was like you know it was just very clear you know we got
along because like we’re both foundry pushers I was like look I like to push
the envelope like as much as possible so like let’s find all of the edges here
and this is just completely unexplored territory and we’re totally down to go
find that like in a safe way right but like we’ll learn well if I know what’s
going on with probably fall on our faces a few times we’re okay with that but
look we’re if for instance we’re gonna be setting up a podcast like talk about
what happens in our culture like what we’re learning and to me if you say Jay
Jay like again it just comes back to learning and the fact that like this is
such a communal effort to me like I really land on to where my philosophy is
is that we’re better together than we are apart right so when we’re working
with Google and we’re working with Netflix so we’re having these huge
conversations about how to like improve this community and really putting that
as the centerpiece of what we’re working towards I just think that as long as
we’re adding and contributing and sharing our learnings there that I think
that’s what likes us up and that makes us really happy so how we’re going to do
that I guess we will be sharing as we go as we figure that this was a super
awesome conversation thank you both so much free time yeah

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *