From idea to startup
Whilst at Atlassian, I worked on many teams across many locations and was fortunate to experience Atlassian’s emphasis on a strong collaborative culture. One of my fondest memories was when our small team envisioned and brought to life the HipChat Connect Platform. With the leadership of Tanguy Crusson, the effort we took to align, bring clarity and connect our distributed team and individuals, was long and difficult. However, no matter the difficulties and how laborious some tasks were, it was with Tanguy’s motivation that we aligned our efforts and lived our company value “Play as a team”. This to me was truly an example of the strength of the Atlassian culture.
To play as a team, we referred to the VTFM (Vision, Themes, Focus and Measures) which were defined by our leaders Mike Cannon Brookes and Scott Farquhar. The simplicity meant that it was very clear what our team and what others were committing to. This way of working helped us to focus and to understand how our work impacted each other and the mission of the company. The work on the HipChat team was engaging, and the culture speaks close to my heart; this had made a significant impact in shaping my mindset and values.
However, a few things stood out;
- The impact that alignment has on every single individual to keep them focused, which enables a level of productivity and autonomy that inspires teams.
- The transparency that enables trust, when teams are left vulnerable.
- The importance of access, the democratisation of information was imperative to enabling teams to make decisions.
This had been the seed planted in my mind.
After the launch of HipChat Connect , I was looking for a new opportunity to continue to envision new products and lead new teams, you can call it destiny or luck but an opportunity opened up at BigCommerce. After my initial conversations and meeting the CEO Brent Bellm and CPO Jimmy Duvall, I was convinced that this was the opportunity I was longing for.
The new role allowed me to build a new team and work with executive leadership to craft out a new design culture at BigCommerce.
In the first few months at BigCommerce, there were many conversations around our team’s culture and alignment. Conversations whilst different in flavour to that of Atlassian and the HipChat team, were revolving around a similar foundation; team, mission alignment, focus and clarity that company strategy is being worked towards.
The emphasis on mission, vision, team and alignment had never been more important with the accessibility to information and diverse cultures working together to achieve collaboration.
Whilst the collaboration tooling space is diverse and solving for specific problems, there isn’t the holistic view to enable the expression of the company mission, values of transparency and alignment. My experience shows that solving for alignment does not immediately solve for transparency and that to achieve this, the product must nurture the concert of the three as coexisting pillars of a strong culture.
As the seed sprouted, InOrbit needed co-founders who have experienced and believed in the problem as much as I did. We needed to be ready to build something ambitious, against all modern-day approaches, and ready to make a cultural shift in how organisations typically operated.