Build the Environment You Want to Work In

Human-centered is respecting different voices, regardless of one's position.

Materials provided by Browny Lin, Technical Director, iKala Cloud
Written by Fiona Chou

I joined iKala in 2015.

In college, I was in the swim team. So, I know what I'm talking about when I say there are two ways to swim faster. One, make yourself stronger. Two, lower the resistance. The difference between a professional and an amateur is the amateur will focus on increasing their own strength, though there is a limit to how strong a human can be. The professional knows to look for ways to decrease the resistance, even while they increase their own strength. 

In my previous jobs, I could be very vocal if I had an opinion about our products. I was not afraid to argue with my superiors to prove a point. But the corporate cultures of those companies could not tolerate such behavior. When the time came to find a new job, I vowed to find a more suitable situation for myself. I would look for a way to decrease the friction between myself and my surroundings as much as possible. I have to create the workplace I want to work in, because that is the best outcome for myself and the people I work with.

That was my epiphany and my enlightenment. 

For example, everyone uses Slack as a team communication platform, and it seems the most natural thing in the world. But in the beginning, back when we first decided to use this service, the R&D team went through multiple rounds of discussions. Our colleague Jeddie even wrote a three-page proposal to educate our CEO Sega and COO Keynes about Slack. We made an effort to communicate with the team and enlighten them about many things: for example, why we needed Slack; how we were going to use Slack; what the advantages and drawbacks were; how many channels were needed; and how we were going to name each channel.

At the time, we even set up a channel called "#slack-slap" to host open discussions. Anyone could log on and share their opinions.

"Lastly, my purpose in writing this proposal is to help everyone gain a better understanding of our expectations towards Slack. As the person who advocates we use this program, I feel it is my responsibility to turn Slack into a project everyone can participate in. I believe that is the very meaning of 'collaboration'—the power and wisdom of the many is greater than that of the individual. I welcome anyone who has the inclination to come and join me. If you wish to share your view, please join #slack-slap and speak your mind. We welcome anyone who would like to propose ideas or actions to be a part of us, because we are all in this together."

That was what Jeddie wrote in the last page of the proposal. In the end, I think the platform has performed even better than what we expected. This came to be because we were able to reach a consensus among every member of the team from the beginning. More importantly, this was what we all wanted. It was in line with my expectations: you have to build the environment you wish to work in.

That is something everyone has the power to do.

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