A Day in the Life of an Atom – Development

Working for Atomic Object, a day at the office can including many things, such as meetings, project kickoff, sales meetings with clients, or project leadership. It’s pretty fast paced sometimes.

I don’t know if there’s anything as a “typical day,” but I’m going to walk you through a development-heavy day on my current project, where I’m using some technologies that are newer to me.   Read more on A Day in the Life of an Atom – Development…

Where Does Atomic Thrive?

In 2001, Atomic Object came to life in a small, rented workspace in an old red brick building in Grand Rapids’ Eastown neighborhood. In 2003, when Atomic was still young and very small, we moved west on Wealthy Street to the red brick building we now call AOHQ. We’ve grown a lot since then, so it was smart of us to invest in a bigger house than we needed at the time. Turns out, the Uptown neighborhood suits us just fine.

In July 2012, we opened our Detroit office in another old, red brick building. And in September 2013, we hung the Atomic shingle out in Ann Arbor — in, you guessed it, a red brick building.

Atomic has chosen to locate our offices on the fringe of downtown in two larger Michigan cities (Grand Rapids and Detroit) and the center of a smaller scale city (Ann Arbor), where older, red brick commercial buildings are more likely to be the workplace options in stock. Read more on Where Does Atomic Thrive?…

Why You Should Never Use the Word “Obviously”

One of our core values at Atomic is Teach and Learn. This belief is evident in many different aspects at Atomic, from the external (presenting and attending conferences) to the internal (setting up brown bag presentations and weekly cross-team design reviews). It is also clear in the day-to-day work, like pairing and problem solving as a unit instead of as individuals.

As I’ve spent time learning and listening to the great teachers we have at Atomic, I’ve noticed one word missing from nearly everyone’s vocabulary: “obviously”. Read more on Why You Should Never Use the Word “Obviously”…

Worry; Don’t Stress

Carl likes to talk about the worry gene culture at Atomic — our predisposition to turn worries into concrete, positive action. The converse of this behavior, inaction, can quickly lead to unresolved worries piling up. That’s where stress comes in. And despite our predisposition to positive action, we all sometimes need a kickstart in the right direction.

Fortunately, many of our practices at AO already serve to guide us toward the concrete, positive actions we need. And there are other simple things I’ve found that help effectively spur the worry gene into action. Read more on Worry; Don’t Stress…

Embracing the Freedom to Fail

I’ve been with Atomic for two years now, and one of the most difficult things for me to learn was how to stick my neck out and try new things — especially things that could end up looking like a waste of time or money.

Atomic has a great culture that encourages taking ownership, making lots of experiments, and learning from mistakes. This attitude sounded great in principle, but I found it extremely stressful. As a high-S, high-C personality, it’s very important to me that I:

  1. look competent, and
  2. avoid conflict.

So naturally, I avoid risk like the plague. College and past jobs had taught me to be good at getting all my ducks in a row (which was my natural inclination anyway), but none of them taught me to experiment and not be afraid of messing up. Read more on Embracing the Freedom to Fail…

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…

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…

Get the Door

One 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…