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Staying in the Groove at Highgroove!


Jon Woodroof

Aping the FitDesk courtesy: @twotoneatl

Anyone that knows anyone at Highgroove knows we’re not your run of the mill rapidly growing Ruby development shop. We’re a unique team of creative individuals bent on productivity hacking and iterating on client needs until the app is awesome. Sure we’ve got some great perks and compelling reasons to make the commute into the office despite being a ROWE. What do we do at Highgroove as a group to intentionally keep our culture cool/unique as we continue to grow? Read more to learn about we stay keep our groove at Highgroove.

Most everyone at Highgroove pens an entry here on the blog describing their initial days and weeks. Like Will put it, getting into the groove involves getting accustomed to working in a ROWE, following all 12 agile principles and getting on the iterative schedule we use for client facing and internal work. Plus we have Tech Talks, Team Dinners, unlimited vacation and even unorthodox approaches to office life like unassigned seating and having a personal trainer. These are all integral components to what makes the culture at Highgroove awesome!

Andy gave me the idea for this post after reading Karen Rubin’s Harvard Business Review article entitled “How Start-Ups Can Maintain Company Culture While Growing” Karen focused on two of the 12 Things You Might Not Know about company culture at the second fastest growing SaaS company in history: Hubspot. According to her, (and we agree!) the two approaches to keeping Hubspot’s culture vibrant and true to the original vision of the company are communication and measurement.

Here are three examples of what that means to us at Highgroove:

  1. The Highgroove Award Our award exists on the website and as a physical trophy. The Highgroove Award even ultimately became an app! To us the Highgroove Award is about communication and measurement. It encourages compliments and is a gauge for how we as a team are embodying the Highgroove Values of being Personable, Optimistic, and Trusting, while exercising Craftsmanship in all that we do. At Highgroove, well-deserved compliments foster teamwork, increase morale, and make us better as a team than we could be on our own.
  2. Weekly Iterations Everything revolves around single, double or 4 week iterations. If something doesn’t work, scrap it. As as our friends at Matchstic said last week: “The best idea wins, no matter where it comes from.” Iterative development relies on this level playing field of communication to stay agile as well as providing the framework for the collaboration we promote in everything that we do. For Highgroove this means, as Chris put it “Iterations hurt [a] developers self esteem. Iterations are great for developer self esteem.” Lastly, we end our iterations on Tuesdays putting any potential crunch time then and not on a Friday or the weekend. Cool, right?
  3. Surveys & more! At Highgroove we’re constantly looking for ways to gauge employee (and client) happiness. This focus on morale measurement facilitates identifying issues and obstacles as well as determining when and if if we’ve moved beyond them. in fact, we’re working on releasing a public version of some of the things that make Highgroove work smoothly. A internal tool that we use as a “How’s it going?” for projects and organizations that we hope to release soon. Stay tuned!

In the same way we endeavor to participate in and contribute to the Ruby and open source community. In this way we share our approaches to keeping our culture cool and unique, and may help to improve the company culture for other companies around us.

Does your company have a unique culture? How do you keep it that way?


Jon Woodroof

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