We’d be lost without our clients. And I don’t mean that in the obvious way that any company needs revenue to survive. I mean it more figuratively, as in: We wouldn’t know where to go, or why to be together, or, really, why to even exist. Our mission is to pursue success for our clients as if it were our own. Our clients provide the goal that our project teams help reach. It’s a wonderful symbiosis.
Product companies have a clear reason to exist—the best ones are driven by people who are passionate about making the best product on the market. The founders of such companies started from an inspiration they had for the things they created, whether that’s cars, furniture, or computers.
A good service company has the same passion, only it’s for helping or serving a particular sort of client. Car repair, banking, healthcare—the best of these firms are deeply rooted in helping their clients meet an important need.
At Atomic, we don’t have products of our own. We don’t operate in one industry, or service a homogeneous client base directly. We’re neither a product company, nor a service company. For each project we work on, we become an extension of our client. We learn their business, we adopt their goals, we offer fresh perspective, we attend their trade shows, we celebrate their wins. We harness all of our creativity, brains, and handwork on their behalf—the client provides the team’s direction and reason to exist.
We make other company’s products; our service to them is innovation itself. Our company is carefully designed around our innovation services model. You can see it in the people we hire, the architecture of the company, and the way we staff teams.
Atoms are curious people. They tend to be widely read and have interesting hobbies. Our makers are passionate about their craft; they’ve typically been practicing it well before university. They stay up on the latest techniques and technologies. They get in heated debates about tools, because their tools are vital to the work they do. They appreciate the money the company invests in their professional development, and they also invest their own time. They are peers with the leaders of their fields. They take their work seriously. They know how to stay productive and happy, so they can put in extra time and effort when it’s needed. They are bound together by a shared set of values and high expectations for themselves and each other.
The architecture of Atomic is very simple. Atoms are the most important element. Teams of Atoms create value for clients. Offices support teams, and find interesting work for them. The company supports Atoms and offices with shared services like finance, marketing, and benefits.
Atomic teams are dedicated to a single client, single project, and single goal. To be an extension of our client, Atomic teams need to know what they are working for, just like military units have one mission at a time, and sports teams only play one game at a time.
That’s not the way every company does it. In fact, it’s unfortunately common for managers to make multiple, fractional assignments for makers. While those fractions may all add up to 100% in a spreadsheet somewhere, this “resource”-centric math ignores how our brains work on hard problems requiring creative solutions. A lot of companies organize around functions, not teams. Many people contribute to a project, but there’s no dedicated team for each project and client.
Our approach is “one team/one project,” and even “one developer/one project,” because of all the work that gets done for our clients when we’re not formally working. If we take on the mission, we’re in it to succeed, and we’ll do everything we possibly can to reach success. Brains don’t let go of challenging problems just because the clock reaches 5 p.m. They keep working, even when it looks like we’re not working. We want all the 5 a.m. insights, the shower time, the meditative doodling, the long bike rides, the “ah-ha” moments, the coffee shop buzzes, and the inspiring conversations to accrue to that one single project, that one mission we’re on.
Atoms are “all in” when it comes to their professions, their colleagues, and their clients. They play to win. We make it easier for them to reach success by giving each team a single goal, their client’s goal.