Words Worth Working For


Carl Erickson wrote back in 2009 about his practice of distributing “nice words” from clients to the company at large. It is a practice that continues, and something that I personally love about working at Atomic. It lifts my spirits and makes me proud to be a part of such a highly-praised group. I know I’m not alone in my appreciation for this practice.

Nice words mean so much to all of us in part because they result from hard work. To us, these words are like a flag flying triumphantly atop a newly-constructed castle. Weeks or months of time has often gone into erecting the solid, stone walls. Thoughtful, sometimes difficult, decisions have shaped it for its intended purpose. Throughout the process we’ve sweated the details, pursued knowledge and empathy, and as a team brought a vision to life.

These are words worth working for.

My project team and I have been working hard with our current client on a business-critical iPad app, back-end, and administrative web interface for about a year. The past two weeks have included significant milestones, culminating yesterday in the first production use of the new system (Hooray!!). One of the preliminary milestones was a training event involving 60+ people who would be using the new software, which I was in attendance for. It was the first time such a large group would be actively engaged in the iPad application, and I knew they had high expectations.

Afterward, we were practically buried in a landslide of overwhelmingly positive feedback. The application worked well, it was easy for people to understand, and the training was expertly overseen by our client’s team. Everyone left excited to start using the new application. Being there to experience that first-hand was a unique — and very energizing — experience.

I know we and our client agree, because they shared some nice words with us afterward — these are results worth striving for. Our client has excited users, software that’s working well, and a lot of opportunity ahead. I think it’s easy to see the value there, so let’s go back to the words again.

What makes nice words worth working for?

As a company, a service firm in particular, nice words help us land our next exciting project. The more good words happy customers say about us, and the more they let us share those words, the more positive reinforcement potential clients have for choosing us. That’s pretty concrete value right there.

They also help us attract top-notch developer and designer talent. Successful people want to work on a team who knows how to win, and winning for us is making customers happy by delivering high-quality software.

Individually, many of us are intrinsically motivated and passionate about what we’re doing. We work hard at honing our skills and we’re energized by hearing that we are, in fact, doing good work. We feel fulfilled when we perform at a high level and create value for our customers. And this goes beyond our work for customers — we love getting good comments on our blog, and internally-shared nice words promote a sense of value and respect.

Nice words are worth a lot, and we’ll be working hard to win them. Please continue to share them with us.