As we take the time to reflect on this past year and think about what we’re thankful for, one thing immediately comes to mind. Our people.
When those of us who work here speak to others about Actifio, our natural inclination is to go right to our innovative technology. That’s what got us started. That’s the thrust of the “Company Overview” on our website. What we promote is how we help businesses around the world to better manage their data. It’s clearly true and important. But there’s much more to Actifio than just our technology.
If you scroll to the foot of the “Company Overview” page you will find this statement:
“AS A COMPANY, ACTIFIO IS ALL ABOUT OUR PEOPLE”
“We’ve built a culture that not only values excellence and skill, but also our desire to do something meaningful in taking responsibility for our customers’ success and for each other. Because, if you take care of people, they’ll take care of the results. Take a look at several of the results we’re especially proud of…”
And a list follows that promotes a number of proud accomplishments. One of those is “The Boston Business Journal (BBJ) “Best Places to Work,” 2014, 2015, AND 2016”. That’s the one on the list that helps explain achievement of all the others. It’s the not-so-secret path to becoming a “Unicorn.” That piece quotes Ash Ashutosh, our founder & CEO:
“From the beginning we’ve focused on bringing a team of the very best people together in an environment which would enable them to excel individually, win together, and have some fun along the way. We subscribe to the old adage that your users can only be as happy as your employees, and see this as a win for both our people and our customers.”
Tech start-ups are frequently analyzed for impacts of company culture on the business. How does the culture of one make it distinct from another and what influence will that have on success or failure? But comparisons are only helpful up to a point. What’s most important to those of who work here is how each of us has come to view our individual experience and how that blends with the collective awareness. (IMHO.)
We don’t necessarily spend a lot of time thinking about it, but it’s a bit like good art: you may not be able to define it but you know it when you see it. And it’s a personal point of view. Influenced by others of course, but still a personal view; an emotional and intellectual exercise that each of us use, consciously or not, to understand our company’s identity and how we fit in. And, while we each contribute to it, we don’t create it. The culture is already established at founding. It starts with leadership and is embedded in a company’s genetic code from conception. All the vision, values, assumptions and beliefs are built in from the beginning. Then, individually, we help to enhance, to expand and refine.
One good way to understand our culture is to look at the physical environment. The corporate headquarters is designed to promote our core values. We aren’t a Dilbertesque collection of grey soul-sucking cubicles. Work areas are open and filled with light. They have glass walls that double as writing surfaces. The corridors are “race tracks” that circulate past mixed work groups and promote employee engagement and cross functional interaction. It’s a physical environment that reflects our culture while promoting and augmenting it. It’s not just a place to work that reflects who we are. It’s a place to socialize, to enjoy the food truck, to cook, to bond. And yes it’s nice that we also get paid.
William Craig, who writes about company culture for Forbes, says that “Culture is Currency.” This is true, and there’s the collective spirit of adhesion and fun that is worth way more.