Rocking the boat

09 April 2014

A few random thoughts: I listened to a great interview yesterday with Julie Ann Horvath on Shoptalk talking, amongst other things, about her resignation from Github (which you should absolutely read about and has been covered much better than I could elsewhere) and her thoughts on startup culture.

It's a wide ranging discussion, with a lot of different insights. One particular quote by Julie about startup diversity resonated with a conversation I'd just had with my wife Steph:

I feel like what startups do a lot is they look for people who aren't going to rock the boat. Um, fuck that. Look for people who will rock it as much as possible, but care when they do.

Disruption can be really positive, encouraging ongoing growth and experimentation, both of which are really important to creativity and culture. This is balanced against familiarity and structure which are grounding and integral to a sense of place and belonging. People have varying appetites for change and the ideal balance between the two is different for everyone – I don't think that it's a thing you are ever supposed to get ‘right’, but rather it's the ongoing questioning and adjustment that keeps the culture healthy, current and humane.

My typography lecturer, Stephen Banham of Letterbox, once topped off a talk on the basics of typographic style by telling us that is was actually okay to break all of the ‘rules’ he had just drummed into us, but we had to understand them before we could know why we might want to. Or in other words, rules and structure provide a good working default that suit a lot of cases – we shouldn't be afraid to go beyond them, but if we are going to do so with integrity, we need to have a reason.

I think this translates really well to what Julie was talking about. In a healthy positive workplace culture there should always be some degree of challenge to the status quo, but it should be with integrity, care and always for the best interests of people.