Better Than Stock Options?By http://profile.typepad.com/1237764140s22740 // April 23, 2012 in Employment
Have you seen Valve's Employee Handbook yet?
It looks like it was published in book form last month, but it hit the web in the last few days.
It's worth flipping through, for the text, the cartoons, and the strong sense of book design.
In terms of substance, the management philosophy expressed from pages 8 to 14 struck me as the most radical and most subversive. Here's an excerpt:
"Since Valve is flat, people don’t join projects because they’re told to. Instead, you’ll decide what to work on after asking yourself the right questions (more on that later). Employees vote on projects with their feet (or desk wheels). . . .
"If you’re working here, that means you’re good at yourjob. People are going to want you to work with them on their projects, and they’ll try hard to get you to do so. But the decision is going to be up to you. (In fact, at times you’re going to wish for the luxury of having just one person telling you what they think you should do, rather than hundreds.) . . .
"Because we all are responsible for prioritizing our own work, and because we are conscientious and anxious to be valuable, as individuals we tend to gravitate toward projects that have a high, measurable, and predictable return for the company. So when there’s a clear opportunity on the table to succeed at a near-term business goal with a clear return, we all want to take it. And, when we’re faced with a problem or a threat, and it’s one with a clear cost, it’s hard not to address it immediately.
"This sounds like a good thing, and it often is, but it has some downsides that are worth keeping in mind. Specifically, if we’re not careful, these traits can cause us to race back and forth between short-term opportunities and threats, being responsive rather than proactive.
"So our lack of a traditional structure comes with an important responsibility. It’s up to all of us to spend effort focusing on what we think the long-term goals of the company should be."
Pictured: an illustration from the Valve Employee Handbook.