Friday, May 18, 2012

Best quotes from the Valve handbook

Valve is not a traditional software company, here is their handbook that new employees get on the first day.

Here are favorite quotes from the handbook.

Why does your desk have wheels? Think of those wheels as a symbolic reminder that you should always be considering where you could move yourself to be more valuable. But also think of those wheels as literal wheels, because that’s what they are, and you’ll be able to actually move your desk with them. You’ll notice people moving frequently; often whole teams will move their desks to be closer to each other. There is no organizational structure keeping you from being in close proximity to the people who you’d help or be helped by most.

Team leads, often, someone will emerge as the “lead” for a project. This person’s role is not a traditional managerial one. Most often, they’re primarily a clearinghouse of information. They’re keeping the whole project in their head at once so that people can use them as a resource to check decisions against. The leads serve the team, while acting as centers for the teams.

Hours, ... for the most part working overtime for extended periods indicates a fundamental failure in planning or communication. If this happens at Valve, it’s a sign that something needs to be reevaluated and corrected.

Even expensive mistakes, or ones which result in a very public failure, are genuinely looked at as opportunities to learn.

Working a lot of hours is generally not related to productivity and, after a certain point, indicates inefficiency. It is more valuable if you are able to maintain a sensible work/life balance and use your time in the office effi- ciently, rather than working around the clock.

We believe that high-performance people are generally self-improving.

The most successful people at Valve are both
(1) highly skilled at a broad set of things and
(2) world-class experts within a more narrow discipline. Because of the talent diversity here at Valve, it’s often easier to become stronger at things that aren’t your core skill set.

Hiring well is the most important thing in the universe. Nothing else comes close. It’s more important than breath- ing.

We value “T-shaped” people. That is, people who are both generalists (highly skilled at a broad set of valuable things—the top of the T) and also experts (among the best in their field within a narrow disci- pline—the vertical leg of the T).

An expert who is too narrow has difficulty collaborating. A generalist who doesn’t go deep enough in a single area ends up on the margins, not really contributing as an individual.

Sometimes, the philosophy and methods outlined in this book don’t match perfectly with how things are going day to day. But we’re confident that even when problems persist for a while, Valve roots them out.

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