After attending the latest Canonical employee gathering (called All Hands) the behind the scenes secret of the company was plainly obvious, even in several of the brand new hires.

When you work for a traditional company where many of the employees are co-located, you often have a power structure at play which dictates to a large extent the culture. This culture usually involves some sort of dress code (often informal, peer driven) and at times the installation of utter fear and unapproachability of executives.  There is often an overlay of formalness, and some times rigidness, as well. You will often see bitter internal competition between managers and teams.

In Canonical we don’t have this. We replace all of that with a simple (unwritten) concept (or really, a culture): Brotherhood (or Fraternity if you prefer).  Everyone is your brother or sister. Everyone is approachable.  This feeling is so strong that we often hug each other in greeting and parting or at the very least give each other a two arm handshake, high five,  or a strong slap on the back.  If you thought this was the exclusive realm of Daniel Holbach, or something tied to romantic interests, think again. This is the only company I’ve worked for where I can meet the COO in the hallway and a spontaneous hug ensues, and likewise get bear hugged by one of my employees.  Even Mark, who is normally reserved, will walk up to you and give you a slap on your back and ask you have you have been.

You want proof? Scour the Internet for pictures from Canonical company events and Ubuntu UDS events. Or better yet, go to one of these yourself. Here are some pictures I took in passing last week:

Once you’ve worked in such a supportive and close-knit group it’s hard to imagine working anywhere else. The good news is that you don’t have to work for Canonical to gain access to this spirit. You can practice this at UDS and in your local Ubuntu teams. Some people may start refering to this concept as the “Church of Canonical” or some other weirdness but in fact it’s not. It’s Ubuntu. Remember, Ubuntu is an African concept of ‘humanity towards others’. It is ‘the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity’.  Canonical simply is “drinking the Ubuntu Kool-aid” and I for one am damn proud of it and to work here.

If you have photographic evidence of this culture, please post links in the comments to this post!  Maybe some cultural anthropologist Ph.D. candidate will want to examine this further. :-)