A Model for Leaders of Leaders

Atomic Object is an organization full of wicked-smart innovators. It’s a wonderful group of people, and I feel privileged to be a part of it. But in an organization like AO where we are all leaders, authors, and presenters of one sort or another, how does one lead?

When I look at Mike, Shawn, Darrell, Mary, and Carl, I’m so impressed with the way they collectively captain this ship. It’s no easy task. Sometimes, I think it’s akin to trying to herd a group of cats. We are all smart, independent and have our own goals. Our tendency is to scatter. How do these folks manage to keep us together and moving in any direction at all? Here’s what I’ve discovered through my own observations of leadership at Atomic.
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How Atomic Evaluates New Project Opportunities

At Atomic Object, we are in the fortunate position of having many individuals and companies reach out to us for our software development and design services. However, this high demand sometimes puts our company in a position of choosing which projects to take on out of a field of many great opportunities. Read more on How Atomic Evaluates New Project Opportunities…

8 Characteristics of a Software Developer at Atomic

For most of our history, Atomic has been hesitant to be too specific about the kind of developers we look to hire. Because our work and client base are diverse, we’ve stuck to words like “smart,” “generalist,” and “culture fit”—hoping to cast a wide net and bring in a lot of candidates.

We’re embarking on a big hiring push (well, big for us: 10-12 developers over the next 1.5 years), so I decided to shake things up a little. I’d also read that job descriptions with specific requirements and expectations tend to bring in a more diverse and qualified group of candidates. Read more on 8 Characteristics of a Software Developer at Atomic…

First Contact to Offer – Atomic’s Developer Interview Process

Much like working with our clients to design and build an application, putting together an interview process involves balancing competing constraints. We want plenty of time to get to know candidates, but keep time investment within reasonable bounds for everyone involved. We set up defined tasks and scenarios but also want to leave room for open-ended conversations and work.

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Clients Aren’t Customers – They’re Teammates

The Detroit Lions have been having a tough year with their kicking game. They are on their third kicker this year, and the season is only half over!  As a Lions fan, I was happy to hear the kicker say this:

“If they send me out there, they’re not sending me out there to just kick the ball. They expect points.”

– Matt Prater, Detroit Lions field goal kicker

I felt that this guy understands it’s the results that matter. (Let’s just forget that he missed his first two fields goals this year.) We want him to go out there and kick the ball, sure. But we also want the result of the kick to get us some points! Read more on Clients Aren’t Customers – They’re Teammates…

Anticipating Your Clients’ Needs

Over the years, I have learned and observed others at Atomic Object anticipating the needs of a client to ensure that, if an issue does arise at a future date, we can react quickly and minimize any complications. Taking the time to anticipate future needs and putting yourself in a position act on them shows that you give a shit and have the client’s best interest in mind.

Here are a few needs I think are important to try and anticipate. Read more on Anticipating Your Clients’ Needs…

Developing Business in Detroit, the Atomic Way

One of my responsibilities as the managing partner of Atomic’s Detroit office is business development. At first it sounds like a new-age word for “sales,” but while there is a sales component to this responsibility, at Atomic it encompasses more than being focused on a single sales transaction.

Don’t misunderstand me — we’re working hard on bringing work to our growing Detroit office. Our ability to remain in the Detroit market depends on it. But “business development” means taking a longer approach, becoming an active, contributing member of the business community and building relationships with other people in it.

Here are four ways we’re developing business and growing in Detroit. Read more on Developing Business in Detroit, the Atomic Way…

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. Read more on Words Worth Working For…

Wanted: New Atoms

At Atomic, we have a lot of pride in the software that our development teams build. So naturally, when considering potential future Atoms, we want to be sure that they can contribute to the success of those teams. We evaluate three areas to accomplish this: technical ability, communication skills, and cultural fit. If you were to apply, we would ask you for writing samples, invite you to a technical interview, ask you to perform a programming or design challenge, and, of course, have you in for an in-person interview.

Many companies will determine if a candidate can do the job by diving deep on very specific topics that are immediately relevant to the position. At Atomic, we measure technical ability not on what we need right now, but on the candidates’ understanding of the tools they claim to know now. We measure this by asking questions about the tools and technology that candidates use day to day, as well as presenting them with situations that are clearly outside their comfort zone.

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