Modern Startup Culture
I was asked recently to describe the kind of organisational culture I enjoy being part of. I decided to turn my answer into a blog post, something I often forget to do. Culture is like air that surrounds us. We tend to take it for granted. But what one takes for granted may be another one’s aspiration.
My career is defined by early stage B2B startups that grew from a handful to 100+ people while I was there. In each of these roles, I started as a generalist engineer, developing and scaling the product across the stack and then transitioned into a hands-on leader, hiring and managing teams.
As a result, the culture I am used to is one defined by pragmatism:
- Full, vertical transparency that helps us align and stay motivated, being able to share with teammates any information a lawyer hasn’t told us not to,
- Marathon with only an ocassional sprint, longtermism and work-life balance by default, crunch time only when short-term is critical for long-term (if that’s often the case, it serves as evidence of poor judgement, rather than dedication or similar bs),
- Technical choices shaped by the needs of the customer, rather than “the shiny new thing” or over-engineering,
- CI/CD and preference for shipping early and often in order to learn (though not irresponsibly, too early or too often, if we truly feel the product isn’t ready),
- Evidence-based evolution of processes, rather than over-engineered management, always seeking the balance between async and sync, writing too much vs too little, meeting too often vs not enough,
- Trust-by-default and remote-first culture that doesn’t unnecessarily complicate our lives, focuses on results, rather than the effort, but demands responsibility and gives clear feedback, both positive and constructive,
- As much face-to-face time as our schedules and finances allow, lest our relationships deteriorate and, unlike results, relationships are one of those things that rarely demand urgency, but destroy everything in the long run if you overlook them.