Why we wrote a Culture Book within the Tech Team?
In seven years of working in the tech ecosystem (5 of which were spent in Matera’s ever-growing team), I have spent a lot of time exchanging with tech & product people. Though they have a lot to share, I have always been very surprised at how few of them document their culture.
That is why I promised myself that we would be more transparent about it and share our culture to the public. This has become a reality : our tech team has just released the first version of our Tech Culture Book. It is meant to describe how we work at Matera, and the values we hold dear.
But why did we write a Culture Book ?
Anybody in the tech & product team at Matera (and generally in the company) can tell that we have a strong sense of belonging. For a long time, we’ve been reluctant to put this feeling in writing. We felt this kind of manifesto was more often than not either common sense, or wishful thinking. During job interviews, we were more inclined to give concrete examples of actions and processes at Matera rather than big speeches. For example : we care about transparency. How can we illustrate that this is important to us? Answer: every other week, our CEO Raphaël holds an open questions session.
But these examples are partials. As we gained positive feedback from outside parties about our culture processes / mindset, we realized we had a lot more to say. And that sharing this could help hire the best talents the market is fighting for. By communicating about our culture book and iterating on it, we want to to show how strong our tech environment is. We’ve heard of engineers leaving a company after a short time because of a mismatch between what they were sold and the reality. We do not want that to happen, and nurturing this culture is a challenge as we grow.
Moreover, doing this exercice would help us better communicate not only about our culture and motivation, but also about how we address some common struggles in the market such as :
- Communication between the tech and product teams
- Involvement of the engineers in the product development
- How do we ensure a strong and stable growth for engineers?
Diversity is a strong component of our team and we used it to write a qualitative book.
Last but not least, we’re hoping this Culture Book will allow the conversation to carry on. I truly believe that exchanging with other companies and learning from each other’s struggles is what makes us all grow as an industry.
As to how we wrote this culture book, we really wanted to make sure it reflected our environment — and not a fantasy. Although I do not think any team would purposely give wrong information during the interview process, it is important to be fully transparent.
The first thing to do was obviously to discuss its content. We had an offsite before launching the project where a few teammates and I defined what the content should be. We obviously had to talk about our tech stack and organization, but the most important was to explain our vision as a tech team:
How are we building our product?
How are engineers is involved in the process?
How can we define our relationship with the product team?
How do we go from a long term vision to a well-executed roadmap?
What room is left to innovate? How do we ensure we have best in class practices?
How do we ensure that we keep learning and improving, both as individuals and as a team?
To make sure the description would be close to reality, about a dozen people worked on it. We selected people with different experiences of Matera : juniors, seniors, newcomers with knowledge of other work environment, full remote developers, company veterans… Diversity is a strong component of our team and we used it to write a qualitative book.
Easier said than done, we had to iterate a lot on it as everyone brought different pieces to the table. This is the power of diversity and what makes our culture so unique.
The Next Steps
This document is meant to be public, and to evolve with time and feedbacks from engineers outside the team. Therefore it is very important for us to get external feedbacks and keep improving. Maybe some parts are not totally clear and we are forgetting important aspects that we should add to make this book complete. By sharing our culture book, we are hoping to get feedbacks, iterate, and improve. The same way we continuously do with our product.
We have only been sharing it for a few days and we are thankful for each of your feedbacks. Do not hesitate to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org !