Ender Core Values: Community

six seasons and a movie

Being curious about the people you work with naturally leads to community. 

A professional sports team isn’t 100% about the sport. When a teammate is going through personal troubles and their performance suffers, we can’t solve it with constructive criticism. Humans aren’t robots designed around success. To increase performance, our lives need to be in order.

Some can compartmentalize and work without distraction. But if underlying life issues aren’t addressed, debts accrue. The same way there’s technical debt, there’s managerial debt. Paying off managerial debt enables a culture of community. 

Optimizing purely for short term effectiveness, a culture of community isn’t necessary. Investment banks and agencies print managerial debt. They demand loyalty, require sacrifice, and give little in return. These workplaces are transactional. A co-worker’s failure can be another’s success. At Ender, if one of us fails, we fail together. When one of us wins, we win together. A culture of community leads to long term effectiveness. Our culture scales.

There’s naturally tension between teams at a company. Each team advocates for their core competency. Sales advocates for closing the sale, while legal advocates for reducing legal liability. If sales teams had their way, every contract would be a one pager. If legal teams had their way, every contract would be hundreds of pages. There needs to be compromise.

Drastically oversimplifying– design teams advocate for the end user experience. Product teams advocate for feature completeness. Engineering teams advocate for code simplicity. Each of these is extremely important and will lead to debates on what’s the best course of action. A culture of community weighs trade offs and handles these debates.

Relationship dynamics change with each added person. With two people, there’s one relationship between person A and person B. With three people, there are four relationships between: person A and B, person B and C, person A and C, and persons ABC all together. The number of possible relationships grows exponentially with each added person. As companies scale, individuals may not know each other. The relationships on teams and between teams become more important.

Culture is what people do when no one is looking.

To have a culture of community, incentives need to be aligned. Incentives are aligned when teams respect each other. Incentives are aligned when teams have upside. When the team wins, we win. A culture of community outperforms.