Questions

I had my first job at this company and worked there for 2.5 years. They develop both hardware and software for a creative niche market (which is loved by users). The company was never very profitable but they have some pretty intelligent engineers. They patented some very interesting new technologies recently which can boost their size. They had financial problems some years ago and one of the partners (who came as a VC) corroded the company's culture for 5 years, he micromanaged and scared people all the time. I left the company because of this guy and now I'm coming back (he left). I'm coming back as a UX designer but I have respect from some people there. Couple of problems at the company: -Lack of communication -Things move slowly despite they "transitioned" into agile -Some people became comfortable and are working part-time while running other businesses -Tend to pay low salaries -Not data driven, using old business models -Not very collaborative and became too engineer centered (complicated products, too many features) The good thing is that they are not very hierarchical and don't have HR or directors, so no politics I really care about this company and I believe I need somehow to improve the culture if I want to make a difference. I want not just to do UI, but actually help improve the product experience, customer experience. What would be the first step to change? Is implementing analytics and making people more accountable the first thing to do? Sometimes I feel that is really hard to motivate people when they already became too comfortable.

Wow, I feel your current struggle and need for change.
So here you don't have much control over management right?
Just my thoughts here:
A simple step as a coworker is to host a party. Begin a tradition where every end of the month you or someone else hosts a get together or go hang out at a local bar near work (so that less people have an excuse due to distance)

the goal is to build solidarity, at InfusionSoft, one of the ways this company builds a strong cohesiveness is by a monthly "tailgate" where the company sponsors a party in the middle of their headquarters building.
here is a link to my blog talking a little more about what C.Culture is not..and a pic of their space: http://unthinkeverything.blogspot.com/2014/01/what-is-not-company-culture.html
{this will only help in rebuilding friendship and some trust, as well as serve as ice breakers for any new people, which in turns in making speaking to each other about project issue that much easier}

Moving on,
Agile is a very powerful project development process and if this is not working then the root of the problem is serious lack of engagement. Being paid little definitely hurts morale, but what hurts more is a lack of pride in what one is working on. See if you can help with improving morale by encouraging others to see the value and amazing impact their product will have in the marketplace. Developing a culture is hard, and there is no real recipe because you are dealing with individual reasoning, goals and history. But you culture can definitely be guided so that the right culture is shaped for that environment, it might turn out that the culture that thrives is something you would have never expected.
Steps to any progress begin with unconscious ignorance then conscious then conscious learning and effort. Once the culture is active and it will become self sustainable and thus an unconscious process. Check out my blog post, it will guide you at least in what is not a culture, so you have a start with that.


Answered 5 years ago

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