There’s a classic cliché among venture capitalists in Silicon Valley: before investing in a company, check the parking lot of the company’s office at night, to see how many cars are there.
The reason why this insight is important is because when you’re trying to figure out something big (such as, are the people at this company working hard enough so I will believe they have what it takes to make it succeed?) you use the very small clues to help you come to a guess as educated as it could be (cars in the parking lot at night implies the employees are there working at night – which is a strong positive signal, from a potential investor’s eyes; of course here at United Virtualities, we have a healthy work-life balance, but that’s the subject of another, upcoming article).
Sometimes, in other words, small things are representative of big things; in other words, microcosms matter — mightily. And one way to judge the big things about a company is by looking at the small things.
That’s why I feel compelled to tell the world about a very small thing that happened in the UV office yesterday.
While working with one of our wonderful WordPress developers on a potentially powerful project we’re pushing past all hurdles, Marco Perez, I asked him a “pregunta” (question) about what process or platform to use to push changes from QA to production. Here are his exact words in response:
“Let me check on that to see how we can improve it and make it easier for you to push things ;)”
(Including the smiley face.)
As soon as I read this, I realized that this line is representative of so much of what is just awesome about United Virtualities, from lots of perspectives. Let me list them:
- The attitude of always making work easier for everyone else. He’s not just doing his work — but he’s doing it in a way, very explicitly, to make it easier for those with whom he works.
- Applying this attitude to our colleagues within UV, as well as clients as well.
- Defaulting to action rather than defaulting to blockers. In other words, I’ve worked with people in other situations who would have responded to my question with just “I don’t know. You should ask [insert someone else’s name here.]” But rather than stopping the action, he pushed it forward and took it into his own hands to solve.
- The question I asked him isn’t strictly a dev question (more DevOps, technically) — so it wasn’t strictly by the book under his jurisdiction. But rather than saying “No, I don’t do that! I only do X instead! Ask the appropriate person!” he didn’t let that stop him.
- He not just did this but he TOLD ME that he was making it easier for me. He not just made it easier, but made it clear that he was. Words matter — in the beginning, there was the word. Logos! — and making it clear, explicit, and direct that he was doing gives me double the confidence that he’s on top of it. If he did the same, without notifying me, I would be left wondering if he was on top of it or not, and that doubt would give me some white hairs — but he saved my wonderful brown locks.
- This spirit is represented not just in the leadership team, but down to every single developer and team member. It’s also too common for the right values to be embodied by management, but scaling culture is hard. But at UV, even just a developer I barely know embodies this service attitude.
It’s the details like this, at the smallest level, that, in my experience at least, make UV stand head and shoulders above the crowd. Marco, here’s a toast to you. 🍷