Todays episode is from the archives.

Dan Kador is the co-founder & CTO of Keen.io.  He’s responsible for building the technology and team responsible for analytics via APIs (among a million other things) at Keen — a leader in the analytics space.  Join us to learn about the growth of Keen.io at 3, 10, 30, and (soon) 100 team members; and Dan & his co-founders journey to building a different type of organization — with a team that’s got the autonomy, purpose, and tools they need to deliver great analytics software.

Links

Quotes

  • When you’re building a startup, ultimately, you’re going to get asked a question that Google Analytics doesn’t have the answer to.
  • When you’re building an analytics solution, you have to decide where to build it.   You have to figure out the access pattern.  Where do you store the information?  It could take a data engineer 6 months to build it.  We felt like there’s got to room for something in the middle.  We could deliver more flexibility.  Much lower time to value. We can get you to a complete solution faster.
  • The key to cold emailing was asking for advice instead of pitching something.
  • We have teams similar to Spotify’s squads model, where a team focuses on a specific area of our product.
  • We wanted to start a company in a different way.  We didn’t know exactly what that meant. We didn’t want to dehumanize our workers.  We didn’t want to demotivate people as it got more structured.  We don’t want to push entrepreneurial people out as we grow.
  • Defining yourself is what you want, you don’t define what you’re *not*.
  • My co-founders and I are consensus machines.  Then, you hit a scale where you stop being able to manage by consensus.
  • How do we build self managing teams that have the autonomy to manage their own goals?
  • Being able to delegate effectively is a problem at a lot of startups.  Maybe they have problems trusting, or the startup is their baby and they are perfectionists.
  • By default, we are lazy.  In at least one way, all of our employees are smarter than us.  Let’s give them input into the business direction, see what they need, and get out of the way.
  • The military is a red organization.  Strict command and control. We are a Teal organization — This organization is self managed.
  • It’s hard to expect new employees to be able to make decisions about what would be most valuable / helpful to a young business.  We’ve invested in being explicit.  We turn implicit things into explicit frameworks.
  • The RACI method is a way of mapping out responsibilities.  RACI stands for Responsible accountable consulted and informed.
  • We start with an in house phone screen to make sure they’re interested in us and they’d be a good fit.  Then we do engineering phone screens that are non-technical, just cultural. We don’t do trick questions or algorithms. None of us are actually implementing sort algorithms.
  • I like to talk about “culture-add” not “culture-fit”. How does a person bring their own values and experiences to broaden our culture?
  • We have a very strong opinions about how people should communicate when they work for us: empathy, humility, introspection, honesty, and continuous.
  • How do you bring yourself to work? How do you conduct yourself with your colleagues?
  • We have a “people team” that does “learning labs” where we talk about non-violent communication and managing emotions.
  • All forms of speaking to each other that aren’t in person or video chat are flawed in that they’re lossy in some way.
  • The “Headphone rule” is — if a coworker has headphones on, you can slack them, but don’t bug them in real life. It’s on the receiving person if they want to engage with that or ignore it, but that’s something we should provide more guidance. It’s okay to close Slack or email when you’re at work if you need to focus.
  • We like rested resources — If you need to you can spin really fast.  But in general, I don’t want people sprinting continuously.  I want them trotting at a decent clip, and if we need to they can sprint.
  • Continuous Learning — Every employee gets an annual budget for CL.  They can use that for whatever learning methods are important to them.
  • Engineering for speed is a value.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of finding the perfect way to architect or build a feature.  The reason we exist is to provide value to our customers.  It’s very important that we remember that.
  • Knowing what things matter and what don’t is an art form.