Canonical Voices

What Joey Stanford talks about

Posts tagged with 'launchpad'

Joey Stanford

Launchpad is now Open Source!  Congratulations Launchpad Team!

Read the announcement:

Join the fun: #launchpad-dev on freenode

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Joey Stanford

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. :-)

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Joey Stanford

Leading with Kindness

I did some analysis work for a group in Canonical last November and December.  It was really interesting for me and a rewarding experience but as I was writing and revising my final report I kept feeling more and more uneasy about the way I articulated my findings. I realized a bit too late that I still had some New York attitude left in me.  It’s good to be engaged and excited about what you are doing, especially when it helps others, but to do so with an aggressive posture is not.  I’ve been trying to cultivate “champa”, “Loving Kindness” in Tibetan, and “Sheshin”, “Awareness” in Tibetan,  and after all was said and done this report showed me I had more room for improvement.

One of the nice things about practicing and leading with kindness at work is that it makes your workplace a better, more enjoyable, and more productive place. One study suggests a 30% improvement in productivity.

Last night I saw a wonderful show on PBS called “Leading from Kindness”.  It’s based on the book “Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results”. The show really resonated with me and what I’ve slowly been learning over my career.  I do believe that cultivating this style of leadership is essential in engaging and retaining superior employees as well as transforming organizations into very high performance teams.

I’ve had good luck practicing this style on my direct reports in Canonical.

The only caveat seems to be that folks who have never been in an organization that respects them as individuals can sometimes confuse kindess with weakness.  When you see this mistake being made, a gentle nudge seems to resolve it.

My hope is that others can benefit from this approach.

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