I have a 1-year-old daughter, and I’m part of a 12-year-old company. Although there’s nothing better than to see both of these growing and learning new things – things that they weren’t able to do a while ago – still, there’s a part of me that wishes they’d always stay as they are. Small, curious & courageous.
Now let’s talk about VALA, a company of more than 100 like-minded people. Yes, 100. That might not sound much to you but to me it’s a staggering number.
When I joined VALA there were 35 of us and that’s how we’ve tried to perceive ourselves through time. We don’t want to be big. We don’t want to have any resemblance with the term corporate. We want to stay small and agile. But at the same time, we want to grow (rationally). Here are the two main building blocks that hopefully help us maintain our small company vibe.
I didn’t Google it but I’m sure someone wise must have said “It’s all about the people”. I believe that a company or a community (we like to believe these mean the same in our case) can do or be anything if the majority of the people believe in it. For example, a medium sized company can perceive itself small if most of the people have enough desire for this.
Recruitment is something we’ve focused a lot on during past years and slowly it’s starting to pay off. We know what kind of mindset, values, ideologies etc. we want our people to have and we don’t make exceptions, no matter how talented a person would be.
This way, over time VALA becomes more homogeneous in terms of values. Naturally we have very different kinds of people at VALA with different opinions and don’t get me wrong, this is what we aim for. The idea of homogeneous people relates merely to the values of individuals and their opinions on largest matters like tolerance for example.
Relating to the company’s perceived size, we hope and believe that our recruitment has succeeded in bringing together a like-minded group of people who all hope to:
– Avoid hierarchy, bureaucracy and strict rules
– Cherish trust and give responsibility; let people decide what’s best for them, and for the company
This is much of the same stuff as the previous one. The difference here is that culture is something that we build together and that evolves through time. No one should force a company culture towards a certain direction. Letting our culture grow independently, based on VALA people’s desires, will hopefully help us maintain a small company mindset.
Why? Because at the moment VALA as a community wants to preserve our small company mindset. That leads to the fact that in the future too we want to recruit people who, not necessarily want to be in a small company but necessarily want to cherish the things bullet-listed above.
Let’s try a metaphor to the end. Think of evolution. In order to survive we might have to create new surviving mechanisms, like processes etc. But at the same time our strong culture – though evolving – preserves the similar DNA, which is the DNA of a small company.Different phrasing of the word hope repeats in this post. It’s because eventually this is my personal post with my personal opinions. Nevertheless, I hope that most of my colleagues share these thoughts and VALA will stay agile, curious, courageous and casual – no matter how many people we are. Like small companies can.