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Atomic Thinking

Atomic Culture Pairs – Teaching to Learn


When a new employee starts at AO, they’re given a Culture Pair. My pair, Lisa, has been with me each step of the way, teaching me about Atomic culture and process. Lisa was new herself two years ago. Her Culture Pair was Brittany, and Brittany’s pair was Patrick, and on, and on (I may start referring to Patrick as my great-grandpair from here on out).

There are many ways to learn on the job. So why does AO insist on Culture Pairs? Just because one of our values is “Teach and Learn”?

While it’s great that I always have someone to turn to with questions, the set-up isn’t just good for me, it’s good for Lisa too. As my pair, Lisa’s responsibility for being a productive Atom didn’t end with her learning her own job, and then successfully doing it. Her responsibility now is to teach the process of AO’s culture to me. In doing so, the inner workings of AO are being set to her heart. Read more on Atomic Culture Pairs – Teaching to Learn…

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Space Matters – Workplace Design Insights

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Space matters. And Atomic Object Grand Rapids is at the front end of an exciting workplace redesign to enable the human activity in our old building.

Recently, my colleague Matt Fletcher pointed me to a great book: Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration by Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft. This book is a wealth of creative workplace design ideas and is organized around “Tools,” “Situations,” “Design Template,” “Space Studies,” and “Insights.”

Along with lots of nuts-and-bolts, DIY design ideas, the book offers excellent perspectives on some of the important lessons of workplace design. Here are the “Insights” that most resonated with me as I head into the redesign of AO Grand Rapids: Read more on Space Matters – Workplace Design Insights…

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5 Atoms Join Ann Arbor & Grand Rapids Teams

In the past few months, five new Atoms have joined our molecule – two in Ann Arbor and three in Grand Rapids. I asked each of them to tell me a little about themselves and to share their favorite thing about Atomic Object so far.

Tabitha Blanski

“I love the smart, interesting, reliable people I work with. I look forward to coming into work, especially on pair lunch days, when I consider who I might talk to in greater depth. I appreciate the smiles and the kindness. I am grateful for all of the willing advice and help, when I have questions. AO’s community is really something special.”

As Atomic’s second Marketing Coordinator, Tabitha is responsible for answering sales calls, writing case studies, producing Atomic’s internal newsletter, and managing photography and videography. She also helps with all other marketing tasks, including Atomic Spin, trade show materials, and creating Atomic’s new website (currently in the works). Read more on 5 Atoms Join Ann Arbor & Grand Rapids Teams…

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Techweek Detroit 2014


At the end of May, Detroit hosted its first ever Techweek. Techweek conferences have taken place in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, and this year they Detroit.  It seems like good company for Detroit to be in and a recognition of the importance of the technology sector in the future of Detroit.

Techweek Detroit was a week-long series of events aimed at showcasing the growing technology sector in the Detroit area. There were numerous opportunities to network with technology and business leaders, listen to talks covering a variety of topics, and learn about many of the various startups taking root in the city and vying for an opportunity to pitch to the attendees. Read more on Techweek Detroit 2014…

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Balanced Team is Coming to Grand Rapids in 2015


Many teams and organizations struggle with the question, “How can creative teams work together to produce valuable, validated outcomes in an environment of extreme uncertainty?” This is a tough question — and surely has no single answer — but it’s one that the Balanced Team group has been addressing head-on since 2009 through meetups, mailing lists, and conference presentations.

Balanced Team events have been held in New York, Boulder, Austin, and San Francisco in the last few years, and now it’s coming back to Grand Rapids. Brittany Hunter, Moses Hohman, Rick Harlow, and I are excited to announce a Grand Rapids Balanced Team Summit on June 13 and 14, 2015!

We’ll be gathering around 100 multidisciplinary software practitioners with traditional design, business, and engineering backgrounds for two days of talks, fishbowls, and workshops. We’ll again be tackling the above question. Read more on Balanced Team is Coming to Grand Rapids in 2015…

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The Regional Economic Impact of Technology Jobs


This year, Atomic is proud join the group of investors that help fuel The Right Place, a regional non-profit economic development organization that has been serving West Michigan since 1985.

I’m very excited that The Right Place has recognized the technology sector an important part of West Michigan’s economic future by including Technology and Communications in their 2014-2016 strategic plan.

This morning (Jun 12, 2014) I’m talking about the importance of technology jobs at The Right Place Investors Breakfast. I’ve always had opinions and anecdotes to share, but the information I found in preparation for my talk really drove home the regional importance of attracting and retaining the best technology talent. Read more on The Regional Economic Impact of Technology Jobs…

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On to New Adventures


I joined Atomic Object just over three years ago as an embedded software developer. Since then, I’ve worked for many customers on many diverse projects. I’ve had the opportunity to build things with experts who care deeply about what they make and how they conduct their work. I’ve learned from and taught fantastic developers. But, most important to me, I’ve worked with people who, like myself, crave competency. Read more on On to New Adventures…

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Good Eats in Uptown Grand Rapids


Atomic Object in Grand Rapids has called Wealthy Street (one of the neighborhoods in Uptown) home since 2003. We’re team of 35+ people who often want (need?) coffee, lunch, or a place to relax with friends after work. We pick up food to-go, we share pair lunches together, and we host our customers at establishments in the neighborhood.

Read more on Good Eats in Uptown Grand Rapids…

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Developing Winning Apps at Wayne State

Detroit is on its way up, and one of the forces driving it is a surge in technology entrepreneurship. Wayne State University, in Detroit’s urban Midtown neighborhood, is working to create better entrepreneurs by connecting students and businesses — giving students a better real-world education and helping companies find and foster great, local talent.

One way Wayne state is accomplishing this is events like last month’s Mobile App Matchmaking. I was excited to attend, since Atomic Object has a close relationship with Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, and we want to build a similar relationship with Wayne State. Read more on Developing Winning Apps at Wayne State…

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Life in the Atomic Do-ocracy

Autocracy – Rule by one person.
Plutocracy – Rule by the wealthy.
Democracy – Rule by the majority.
Meritocracy – Rule by the accomplished.
Do-ocracy – Rule by those who do.

During my first two months at Atomic, I spent a lot of time asking, “Who’s in charge of this project?” I was Atomic’s first Marketing Coordinator, so my position brought together a bunch of responsibilities that had been previously spread across the company.

I expected the question “Who’s in charge of this?” to turn up only management folks and other non-billable employees, but I was wrong. It turns out that non-client projects at Atomic are usually managed by… the person most interested in getting them done. Who tweeted from @atomicobject? One of the designers. Who managed the hiring pipeline? Two of the developers. Who talked to potential customers that called, asking about their projects? The executive assistant. Who designed that year’s t-shirt? Whoever had an idea and the time to do it. Read more on Life in the Atomic Do-ocracy…

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