Why I’m building a company: Structure

There are a lot of reasons to build a new company. A large part of it is wanting something to exist in the world. However, there are ways to manifest things that don’t require a new company.

The idea of a company itself being important came to me mostly from Steve Jobs. The canonical biography talks a lot about him building the company specifically, with the below understanding:

Company: A structure to build sustainable culture and values that live beyond yourself.

This was something I’d understood in a partial way, but the book made the concept concrete.

Structure

I believe there is a lot wrong with the ways companies are currently structured. The biggest issue is the concept of a 40-hour work week. All creative people I know strife at the concept of working 40 hours a week.

Most folks admit they don’t have 40 hours of creative potential within a week. Usually they get about 4-5 hours a day, at most, of truly creative and productive time. Within a classic, officed, 9-5ish company, the rest is meetings, filler, and “fun”.

Exostructure

As much as you want to change a company, you can’t change the culture around the company, at least to start. The biggest element that can’t be changed immediately:

  • Monday-Friday 9-5ish availability
  • Weekends as time off

Luckily creativity loves constraints, and these are the constraints that I am working with.

Idea

Two separate working teams:

  • Monday-Wednesday Team
  • Wednesday-Friday Team
  • Working ~20 hours a week

The idea is that there are two separate teams working on either the same or similar projects. Wednesday would be the shared day where people would transfer knowledge and hand off projects which require handoff. It would also be for brainstorming, so people fresh from not working and folks deep in the project could work together.

I imagine this would work better on some teams than others, but I generally believe it would allow people to live better lives, and do better work.

It would also require a lot more documentation :)

Why?

I live for the woods. You may live for something else, but it is most certainly not work. I enjoy my work in a profound way, but work is only a subset of life. By promoting life outside of work, and giving people more time to live, we will all be happier.

Happier people build better products and companies.

Working less also requires more discipline. You have to kill your heroes, and work in the time meant for work to be done. A structure that reinforces balance provides the right incentive structure. If I can’t work all the time, the work has to be good, supportable, and documented.

Crazy?

We haven’t implemented this concept yet. I’d be curious of previous examples of this kind of structure working, or failing. I imagine there are subsets of a company where this might make perfect sense (customer support, operations), because there is a shared context. There are also likely situations where it wouldn’t work, but I’m really excited to try things like this.

Why build a company if it’s going to be like every other company?



Hey there. I'm Eric and I do consulting and provide other services around software documentation. Feel free to email me if you want to chat.