Never be too big to ‘sweep the sheds’
August 24, 2018
Three years ago, I left my cushy corporate job and took a chance on a one year old start up. Why? Maybe I was a little crazy, but mostly, I was sold on the values Versent espoused.
A lot of companies have their ‘values statement’ plastered on their website, by the kettle in the kitchen or on the walls etc, but do they actually impact the way the company does business?
Our Versent values can be found here, but the thing that makes me happy to come to work (yes, really), three years into my Versent journey, is how we live by them, every day.
In start-up land, everyone pitches in.
You all need to scrum and do things outside your usual job to keep going forward. This can often get lost as you scale. You might hear, “that’s not my job” or “I don’t do that”, or even “isn’t my time better spent if I do something more valuable?”
Culture is hard to build and easy to lose.
We are not a start-up anymore, we are experiencing exponential growth, we are growing up and as we continue to grow the business, it is so important to keep the fabric of who we are and why we are different.
Our #1 Versent value is PEOPLE. We live by it every day. Here’s how.
Sweep the Sheds “Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done” 
Sweep the sheds is a well-publicised philosophy of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team. It’s a simple idea, yet so powerful. The All Blacks have some of the best talent in their domain on multi-million-dollar contracts, yet after each game, when all the strapping tape has been ripped off, mud ejected from boots, and discarded gear is strewn across the floor, they all pitch in to clean up the room and leave it as they found it. The All Blacks are unmatched in their long-term success. They are a long running team where team members come and go over time, but the values are passed on from one All Black to the next.
It’s the fashionable thing in sport right now. In AFL, the Richmond Tigers has adopted the same mantra and like all good sporting teams, they are always looking for an edge in a competitive environment, and they look to what works, and apply it.
But what does sport have to do with a tech company?
Versent is a long running team as well. We set up to develop, care and grow products. We’ve taken on the mantra of the All Blacks and we apply it our way – these are just a few examples:
1. We are a consulting and product company, so like taxes, timesheets are a fact of life.
2. Getting your timesheets in on time is important so someone else doesn’t have to check and follow up.
3. In cloud cost control is important, tag your AWS instances so people other than you know what they are.
4. Write a user story for the team backlog when you have an idea.
5. Document tech debt when you know you had to compromise to meet a deadline.
6. Comment on your code for the next person who has to run or change it.
7. Unstack the dishwasher, don’t walk past it.
These are all little things on their own, but together, they add up to a lot.
Our CEO, Thor Essman, still puts the bins out down the alley next to the Melbourne office when they are full. Sweep the sheds.
PEOPLE is just one of our core values. Watch this space for more from us on how our values make a difference every day.
Hamish Ridland is the Practice Director for Delivery at Versent in Melbourne. He has worked in delivery of tech projects for 20 years and specifically in Cloud for the past six. He has delivered a wide range of projects from Data Centre physical construction, to Data Centres exit to the the Cloud, to National Policing systems, to agile software product development and everything in between. When he’s not full gas at work, he is raising his two young boys, coaching others to keep fit and improve their hockey skills.
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