Onboarding via Overheard

383’s growing. It’s really weird to see and feel; there are the tangible things of course. Desks for nearly 40 people. Asda shopping drops that consist of more cans of coke than a Columbian submersible. But then there’s the more important side of it all. The Culture.

Everyone and his start-up guru has written about not fucking up the culture, so I won’t bother adding to that except to say that it is the single most important attribute of any growing company. Once the culture is gone, it’s gone. For good. Never to be seen again. After that, you’re just a company filing tax returns and it’s something I know the guys at 383 have fought very hard to keep.

Which leads me on to the point of this article. Onboarding. It’s something I’ve never even really thought of until recently. I mean, new people start, they join the team and they get going right? Which is all well and good when the team is you and a few other people. But eventually you reach the point where the team is bigger than just the people in it.

There’s the knowledge. Where source is stored, how to format indents, hyphens or underscores in class names, and on and on. But then, going back to my point, there’s the culture which isn’t, almost can’t, be codified by it’s nature. Culture is fluid. How someone joins a team now is different from six months before? But culture accumulates, it doesn’t replace, and when someone new does start they are starting with a blank slate compared to everyone else.

Years back (July 2011 according to the first post), we started a little internal Tumblr. It was just a dumping ground for when anyone said or did something funny. Chat messages, gifs, photoshops. They all went in and became a part of this rich tapestry of the side of the company that’s never seen from the outside.

We’ve had a few new starters in the past few weeks and when, during Fridale which is another brilliant tradition, we got to talking about days gone by I suddenly remembered this Tumblr. Within minutes the new starters were reading through hundreds of posts, showing sides of people who at the moment are just faces on a board. It’s embarrassing and hilarious, but it also lets them see the bar. What’s appropriate, where do these little internal jokes come from (flavicons anyone?).

This Tumblr will never be seen by anyone outside the company. It’ll never go viral, or get a dozen retweets on Twitter. But it will serve it’s purpose. It is a part, just a part, of the culture of the company, written down like a tapestry for all (who join) to see.

Now, to see if I’ve appeared on it this week…