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Lean culture and individual contribution

The Funnel tech organisation is known for having a strong agile mindset. Rather than trying to release code in big chunks, they break down problems into small chunks and make small, but frequent, releases. Understanding the problem and possible solutions is just as important as choosing the right tech tools. So how does this work in practise? And how does a strong culture affect recruitment and new hires coming into the organisation? This blog post is an imaginary conversation between Mimmi Olofsson, our recruiter, and Sara Wänerskär, one of our developers.

Sara: How does Funnel’s culture affect our recruitment process?

Mimmi: Great question. When I was new in technical recruiting and working as a consultant, I was often told by my clients that a candidate was not a “culture fit” and that they would not proceed further. But no one, not any HR director or hiring manager had a clear idea what that meant when I asked. It was very different when I stepped into the office of the Funnel Tech department. Per Mellqvist and Ville Svärd could answer that question. Better up, instead of giving me a list of hard technical competences, they said: “the candidate needs to enjoy teamwork, be prestigeless, put the team before the I, continuously want to share knowledge, not only enjoy input but actively seek it”. 

We structure our interview on Mark Murphy's work “Hiring for attitude”. That’s what we are aiming for, we hire for attitude and train for skill. We have developers onboarding from all sorts of backgrounds and tech stacks. So, I would say that the tech departments culture affects recruitment a great deal.

Sara: Does this make your job different? Our recruitment process is about more than years of experience with this or that technology. I didn’t understand how I was considered a good cultural match. In the interviews, I was just trying to pay attention and be polite.

 

Mimmi: Not really, if you compare to any traditional recruitment scope, except we are adding another point of reference. Our interview guide is based on deep interviews with people across all departments and offices at Funnel. We identified seven different attributes, aka, distinguished behaviors that are appreciated and some behaviours that do not align with how people want to be treated at Funnel. The interview guide is centered around situations where a person has or has not shown the specific attribute. Previous behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour, rather than general speculations and thoughts. That being said, it’s not about hiring the same person over and over again, it’s about hiring people that have a growth mindset and shared values.

Sara: Yes, “cultural fit” is quite broad and includes many different people and personalities. Speaking as a developer, I am convinced that our focus on collaboration and small iterations lead to a great product and high quality code. A strong culture can have an effect even after you leave an employer. I am still using some of the things I learned at my first job for example. So thinking about a prospective employer’s culture and how it fits with your own values makes sense. I think what makes cultural fit at Funnel different is that we are very explicit and transparent in what we are looking for.

 

Mimmi: Yes, I believe the word “culture” comes with a great deal of anticipation. We look for individuals that can share our vision and have an interest for our way of working. In my meaning, culture can be seen as shared imaginations, ideas or contexts that bring meaning between individuals. As you said Sara, Funnel Tech organisation is explicit about what that vision is.  

 

Sara, your first couple of weeks at Funnel, how was it? Did you have expectations? 

Sara: On my first day, I was just hoping that I would find someone to have lunch with. I felt welcome and the introduction of new developers was well thought out. I love data and programming so thought everything was super interesting. First impressions were that the organisation is well aligned - there are no conflicts of interest. Everyone is working towards the same goal. Another thing I noticed is that Funnel is a young organisation. Many Funnelers are younger than 35. 

Mimmi: Looking back, Could your team have done something differently?

Sara: I don’t think so, but I know that the introduction materials have been updated and improved since I started. How about you Mimmi? What were your expectations?

Mimmi: The most concrete difference from my last job is a genuine belief that it is how we go about our work day that’s the big game changer and that people here truly strive for it. Coming from a classic headhunting agency a lot of focus was put in performance. My expectations were to get my hands on everything related to recruitment and have a broad role.

How does our culture affect your daily work, Sara? 

Sara: Culture emphasises the importance of collaboration and how the teams should make an effort to make it work. It also affects what we expect from our colleagues and what they should expect from us.

Sara: On the dev side, there are numerous initiatives outside the daily work in the team. This blog is one example. Other examples are initiatives around security, UX and anything AWS related. The teams are quite different in how they work. They experiment with technologies and programming languages. If you want to try something new, you need to convince your team. We do not want to find ourselves in a situation where one individual person is the only one who knows how to carry out a specific task. 

 

Mimmi: Yes, I feel we don’t put people in boxes or small areas of expertise. Having different perspectives or ideas is not something you need to fix, I think you need to focus on the competence that each individual brings to the team, their talent. That being said, competence or talent as a term has a history of not being well defined. The term is widely used in sport psychology and with that comes an idea that talent is something you are born with and that it’s a constant. But, talent can both be acquired and shared if you give people the right context. 

But what about downsides of this type of strong mindset and culture? Do you have any thoughts Sara?

Sara: I think that it is important not to lose yourself when you are working in a strong culture like ours. Agile and lean are the most efficient ways of achieving what we want that we know of. I can see that. However, in my spare time, I prefer solitary coding. Having said that, I am very happy when I find  “small effort - big impact” improvements around the house!

Mimmi: I agree, I believe it’s important to embrace the culture on your own terms and also understand that different roles and people have different conditions becoming a part of new work culture. It's also up to the team when taking on a new member to embrace changes that are necessary with a new individual coming in, with new ideas, perspectives and skills. 

Sara: Great speaking to you Mimmi! 

 

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