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Culture

Worry; Don’t Stress

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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…

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Embracing the Freedom to Fail

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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…

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Atomic Culture Pairs – Teaching to Learn

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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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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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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.

Read more on Becoming an Atom: Fears & Reality…

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