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Learnings from open source culture to build the organization
Sachin Dabir I Founder & Director, Ashnik
Like any 6 years old, young company we have been through and still going through complexities of team building and organizational growth. Our challenges are very different than 200+ people organization, nevertheless we have to address them.
One of the most important questions that we have to face is in front of the customers. Who we are, why should customer trust us, why should customer give business to us, would we be around in one year to provide continued services etc. These problems assume much bigger proportion when we approach large enterprises in Telecom, Banking, Insurance and Financial sector. Now having customers such as at least one telecom company in every country in South East Asia, large stock exchange, Banks and multinational insurance company, stock depository, largest retail chain in Singapore etc, we can say that we have been fairly successful in addressing customer concerns. How did it happen?
Unlike large technology companies we don’t have army of sales people spread across multiple accounts nor can we afford time in structured sales training. I believe only way we are able to communicate our value to the customer is communicating them in a language that we know best – value of open source. When our team engages with customers we draw upon our deep experience in open source solution. Our sales or pre-sales team does not have to be taught special articulation. We only tell our sales team to talk to the customer what is in its best interest. We have don’t have to go out and ‘push’ our products or solution. This means our team does not hesitate to shake hands without have an immediate business, but most often they earn customer’s respect and a return call some time later for much bigger opportunity.
Similarly our pre-sales team is told to keep the values of open source in mind while devising a solution i.e. to think of openness to talk to multiple systems, scalability, security and no lock-in. This makes customer realize that we don’t have any hidden agenda and it enhances its trust in us. As a result of which many times we are called upon to given our inputs for upcoming projects. This means repeat projects for us. Almost evert organization wants to develop this kind of relationship with the customer but is not able to achieve it easily as it is seen as mere vendor. By walking the path of open source values we get to move faster.
Similar things happen when we recruit people. Potential candidates ask us about our company, our vision, our values etc. I can say very confidently that if you ask these questions to anyone in our team you would get a consistent answer. Though we have not spent extra time in ’tutoring’ our people about company vision, mission etc, our values get communicated and demonstrated through our interactions and actions on the field – which all revolve around open source values and our team communicates with the external world based on these basic guidelines.
Every company wants to develop certain culture or it gets develops based on the behavior of seniors. But developing a desired culture becomes more challenging when you have multiplicational teams, work from home culture and no budgets for frequent travel just for ‘team building’. In our case our weekly team calls serve this purpose where we talk about various developments in open source and how it is shaping the world. This helps people to develop understanding of the culture and people don’t have to be told about the direction of the company. They themselves become contributor to the growth of the company. This helps us align everyone in one direction. In this way almost every aspect of the organization is shaped by the value of open source.
If we are able to do it at our scale, I am pretty sure, much larger organizations would find it immensely beneficial if they adopt this simple yet powerful value system.