I’ve seen alot in the startup game. I’ve seen the good, bad, crazy, and over the top styles of many Silicon Valley companies. I have lots of thoughts about the role of the founders and their impact for setting the tone when it comes to organizing people around one common goal. In Ben Horowitz's book he talks about programming culture. I believe that an early win for building great culture is transparency.
Transparency for each company is different. If you’re Buffer the culture is set around transparency as key to building a successful company. If you’re Apple it’s not so transparent. At Formation we get fairly uncomfortable, but don’t take it as far as Buffer.
The first assumption about transparency I make at FDS is that everyone is an adult. We expect that people can handle good news and bad. The team needs to have the ability to ask uncomfortable questions - however I expect them to be able to handle answers that may not be “scrubbed”. We tend to give people the straight dope and expect them to do the same.
The second assumption about transparency that we make as a team is accountability. Every day we do a standup as a team and talk about what we’re working on and what we need help with. Each member of the team reports progress of what they did the day prior and what they expect to get done that day. This is one area of accountability that gives everyone a sense of where we are as a team.
The third assumption that I make about transparency is we expect people to be honest with themselves. It’s not always easy to look yourself in the mirror and admit that you’re stuck. At FDS the culture is about helping teammates when they are stuck or need help. We think that always being the smartest person in the room on everything probably means you’re not.
There are many ways people and companies can be transparent and at times it’s uncomfortable, but standing up and celebrating success and failure is part of FDS.