Sunday, November 11, 2012

Vibe Managers

I enjoyed reading this story about one of the Bay Area's hottest software companies: How Heroku’s ‘Vibe Managers’ Could Transform Salesforce’s Culture

Heroku was rapidly approaching legendary status in the Bay Area software startup scene when they were acquired by Salesforce in 2010.

You could hardly imagine two companies with more opposite cultures: Heroku was a Ruby programming shop, small and agile and focused on small users and their needs; Salesforce was already becoming an enterprise titan, selling and delivering to the largest organizations on the planet and about as buttoned-down and sober as Bay Area software companies get.

You might expect that the corporate titan would drain the soul from the little quirky operation, but so far, at least, things are, according to the article, at least somewhat the other way around:

Left alone to maintain its own unique working environment with weekly yoga, a company dashboard with a ping-pong champion leaderboard, and blinking red lights that blind everyone when the site goes down, Heroku has flourished under Salesforce. But more impressive perhaps is that now Heroku is the company exerting influence on its much larger parent.

At least part of Heroku's influence is credited to their Vibe Managers, a most unusual job description:

These aren’t just people who order supplies and help you fill out benefits forms (though they will help you with either task), they are there to help install a hipster-approved coffee station near your desk, or roll a kombucha kegerator into the office if that is what the staff requires. Vibe Manager Sharon Schmidt’s duties have included everything from organizing team bar outings to finding an old TV at the local thrift store to go with the almost-vintage Nintendo system in the office.

Although we don't have Vibe Managers, my day job has a very similar feel. We have beautiful office space, with art on the walls, comfortable and well-provided break areas, game rooms, company-provided massage, a wonderful grotto-like lunch area, and more.

Company culture isn't just something that gets written up in Harvard Business Review; it's something that turns man-months and resources into a productive and coherent team. I'm pleased to see Wired celebrating Heroku's vivid and inspirational culture.

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