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Culture

Get the Door

Get the DoorOne of Atomic’s greatest strengths is its five foundational value mantras. As Atomic’s Office Coordinator, one who is not involved with the technical side of Atomic’s software development, I have the unique perspective of seeing these values played out, outside of the software development. I see these values lived out in the everyday, even in an event as simple as installing a doorbell.

Recently, at AO Headquarters, we made the decision to start keeping the ground floor entrance doors locked. It has taken some getting used to, as Atoms must now carry a key card to gain access into the building. Since we coincidentally made this decision in the middle of one of the snowiest winters on record, more than one Atom was locked, nearly frozen and buried, outside, with no where to turn for help. When the locked door, additionally, led to an important, missed delivery, the decision was made to install a doorbell.

I made the trip to our favorite local hardware store and asked Patrick to pair with me on wireless doorbell installation (Value #1: Teach and Learn). After a couple failed attempts, we had it installed and ringing in the main office, upstairs. With all of the technical knowledge around here, I am looking forward to the day that someone decides to change the ringer and adjust the sound! Read more on Get the Door…

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Profile of an Atom

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When you’re looking for a home for your career, one really important consideration is who you’ll be working with. What’s the culture like? What kind of people will you spend your time with?

I’ve worked at Atomic Object for a few years now — long enough to have observed and identified some characteristics that most, if not all, of the other Atoms have in common. In no particular order: Read more on Profile of an Atom…

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Creating Common Ground with the Atomic Reading List

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Atomic Object has employees from many different backgrounds. Though this diversity is something we celebrate in our culture, it could potentially lead to a team using several conflicting approaches on the same project. To help mitigate this risk, Atomic’s new employee orientation aims to create common ground with required reading.

The Atomic Curriculum

New Atoms are required to read Atomic Spin and Great Not Big post about things like Atomic’s values, our dedication to transparency, our project budgeting model, and how we like employees to engage in teams.

And all makers must read three books during their first six weeks at the company: Read more on Creating Common Ground with the Atomic Reading List…

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My First Year at Atomic Object

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I am just about to wrap up my first (calendar) year at Atomic Object. I started at Atomic as an apprentice in the Summer of 2012. From day one I knew that what Atomic had to offer was a unique experience with a group of world-class developers. I imagine that is why my first full calendar year here has felt like a month. I’ve grown as a developer and as a person, and I would like to share what made my year special at Atomic Object. Read more on My First Year at Atomic Object…

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Learning Atomic Culture with Hacky Sack

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How do you bring an employee up to speed on your culture? At Atomic Object we take a lot of pride in our laid-back, highly-productive office culture, and maintaining it is very important to us. As a newcomer to Atomic from SRT Solutions, I’ve been learning and adapting to the Atomic culture over the past few months. Luckily for me, Atomic Object’s Detroit Office (AOD) has a tradition of “hacking” in the afternoon — that is, playing Hacky Sack. It helped me come on board quickly and effectively.

1) Getting to Really Know My Coworkers

Playing Hacky Sack was daunting at first: coordination has never been my strength in life. In the first few taps of the sack, I saw that everyone had different levels of talent and that we were truly playing for fun. There were lots of jokes (John Croisant is the master of a move called the chicken wing), and it became clear that talent wasn’t an expectation and that the purpose of the game was to take a break and hang out with the other people working at the office.

Read more on Learning Atomic Culture with Hacky Sack…

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Becoming an Atom: Fears & Reality

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It’s been a couple of months since my previous company, SRT Solutions, was acquired by Atomic Object. I remember how nervous I was when Atomic Object was first mentioned in the office. I really loved working at SRT, and I was having a hard time believing that there was another place where I could be just as happy. After all, I worked with developers who were passionate about development. How many other companies can compete with that? I was about to learn that Atomic Object could.

I remember four of us drove out to Grand Rapids to visit the main Atomic Object office to get a feel if this would potentially be a good fit. When we first walked onto the main floor, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the space. It was warm and open, and it seemed to invite us in. There was a quiet buzz of activity not too different than from that of a busy coffee shop. It just felt like a great place to be. I hadn’t even talked to anyone yet, and I was already drawn to Atomic Object.

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A Sampling of Atomic Sponsorships

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Throughout the year, Atomic Object actively supports a long list of organizations, events, and other community activities through many forms of sponsorship. Depending on the need, we offer up our time, expertise or facilities. We contribute financial support, or in some cases just the snacks for an event.

Here’s just a sampling of the variety of efforts we’ve been a part of over the last couple of years:

Read more on A Sampling of Atomic Sponsorships…

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Three Values that Matter to Me in a Work Environment

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I’ve been working at Atomic for just over three years. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about designing great custom software. But I’ve also learned about working with people.

I work with some good, caring people. Atomic’s 5 value mantras pave the way for a work environment in which people are able to make great software in a sustainable and suitable way. But I wanted to point out some of the “intangibles” that come with working in a great environment.

The values that matter to me, or anyone, in a work environment aren’t always easy to identify. But they’re important. They make up the stuff that keep us doing our jobs well. They give us a foundation. These values matter. These values are human. Read more on Three Values that Matter to Me in a Work Environment…

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Sustainability at Atomic Object

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On March 27, 2013 Local First held its 5th Annual Sustainable Business Conference. I was invited to speak on a panel about sustainability initiatives in business. My fellow panelists were Marcia Rapp of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Kris Spaulding of Brewery Vivant, and Matt VanSweden of Integrated Architecture. Bill Smith of CompuCraft was our panel’s moderator.

Participating on this panel gave me the chance to share some of the aspects of sustainability that are important to Atomic Object. I gave the audience a sense of Atomic’s strong culture and the sustainable business practices we have adopted since we opened our doors in 2001.

I won’t claim that we’ve flawlessly executed on all of our many sustainable business efforts, but experimentation and improvement trump perfection. And pragmatic beats dogmatic in our complex and dynamic business environment.

Read more on Sustainability at Atomic Object…

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Values Are Better Lived

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I’m a firm believer that a company and its culture are shaped by the values they hold and practice daily. Here at Atomic Object, the values we hold aren’t tucked away in an annual report only meant to impress a prying eye. Instead, they’re lived out, talked about, and practiced. (For example, if you’re a regular reader here at Spin, you’ve undoubtedly benefited from our “Teach and Learn” value.)

Although our values make for great talking points, I believe they sink deeper, last longer, and taste richer wrapped in the stories we share. This past fall, while in the closing days of a project, I had an unexpected hospital stay. My wife fired off an email to my colleagues, letting them know that I wouldn’t be in the office. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I could see each of our values being lived out in reaction to my absence.

Read more on Values Are Better Lived…

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