Doug Bester, CEO of Sentient Computing, shares how his time in working in traditional engineering environments gave him a clear guide of what not to in creating a leading edge virtual reality company that draws on local talent within the computer gaming community.
Sentient Computing is a Perth-based software development company that specialises in providing powerful and immersive virtual environments particularly in the resource sector.
My key learning nuggets from the conversation:
Interesting comparison observation recognising the significant difference between older ‘traditional’ engineering culture and more modern workplace cultures
‘traditional’ engineering culture provided a lot of evidence of what not to do – work people hard, extract the most out of every employee and project, soley focused on money at all costs
Traditional culture based on competitive, ‘one upmanship’ testosterone fuelled way of doing things is destructive to the wider culture and performance, particularly with its quick route to anger
Motivate a workforce on vision more than money
Any diversity in a high performing team is better and more creative – however not necessarily easier as there is a lot more conversations and communication involved
The transition to more discursive, more voices included, culture can be challenging
Culture of encouraging failure as this is where the leading edge is
Look at the company more holistically across projects and services rather than milk as much profit from each individual project – ‘the next project’ is the most important and building a trusted relationship with the client
Too much process and procedure can stifle creativity
Ensure teams understand their role in the culture is key to share the responsibility
Culture – if you can create a place where they enjoy being at work, then you’ve cracked it this includes encouraging:
Also, actively asking employees what they want to do when they leave the company – thus creating a personal vision. Then create opportunities for each employee to work towards that. This can often support retention.
Everyone has a voice, but it must be clear that not everything will be acted upon
The leadership must have authentic care – very powerful
Culture is dynamic and an ongoing conversation
There is a link between mental health, authentic care and performance.
Many of the current workforce are anxious, often overtly so as opposed to the old school ‘bottle it up and carry on’, this transparency is a good thing despite being at odds with the more traditional ways of showing up to work.
Rather have an anxious person who is honest about their state rather than someone who bottles it up and at some point inevitably implodes
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Learning from the past of what not to do - Doug Bester
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