There was a sense of fear, uncertainty and doubt as I started my day on May 31st 2017. I stepped into my office knowing this would be my last day here. A lot of questions swirling in my head, how will the environment be in the new company, what if you don’t like it there, you’re comfortable in this company it’s not too late to change your decision. Looking back I could say that those fears were unfounded and had no basis. They were just the human reaction to change. Our built-in inertia to change as I call it. There was no need for me to feel the way I did because I have only experienced positive things until now at Lean Station. Not one moment have I felt like a newcomer or an outsider. From the moment I joined I have been treated like I was a member of an old gang of friends that has recently returned.
You could think of me as a frustrated software engineer (like the one from all the jokes!). Work was to me a mechanical process that one has to go through to get paid. Work was faking your way through all the team meetings and outings like you were with your best buddies. Work was something I had to do to sustain myself. It was not something I enjoyed doing. Hence I started looking for a change. A change that would break this monotonous routine that I had grown accustomed to. A change that would make me feel like a little kid in a candy store with his dad’s credit card.
Since the day started on June 1st 2017 I have been constantly learning, adapting, contributing and innovating at a level of freedom and involvement that I thought could not exist at a conventional company. But you cannot call us a conventional company either in that sense because what we’re doing and the pace at which we’re doing it, would not be facilitated by the rigid corporate infrastructure that is so rampant. Life moves at a faster pace here at Lean Station. Let me list out a few things that are worth mentioning that I noticed in my time here:
- Team work: During my first month here Sharath (please note I am calling the CEO on a first name basis) sent us a link. It told the story about an intern who screwed up on his first day at work and got fired for the same. That was not the part of the story that appealed to me. The part of the story that appealed to me was that the company did not treat the intern as part of a team. It treated his failure like his own and not as a collective failure. I wondered why Sharath had sent us this story. It was definitely not for our amusement but it was to tell us how to behave as a team. It was to sent to convey a message behind the story, it was to show us that we are watching each other’s backs. This has had a tremendous impact in the way I look at my team and how I react when any issue comes up. I no longer think I did not work on this so I don’t have to fix issues related to that. It has fundamentally changed the way I look at my teammates and this is within the first month of me being here. Now when an issue comes up and I haven’t worked on it but I still work on fixing it, I feel like a superhero inside saying to my teammate in a whisper don’t worry bro I got your back. Not bad right!
- Collaboration: Code review and pair programming I thought these were just concepts that existed in software engineering textbooks. I see these two concepts applied to their fullest here. It’s not just an extra step you have to do but it is more a tool that will help you write better code by looking at the problem from different viewpoints. I have been physically sitting a few feet away from my teammates and each would be so absorbed in their own problems that you feel like you are on your own but I have experienced only the contrary here at Lean Station. Even though your teammates are in Singapore, Germany or anywhere else you have the freedom to call them up and ask them to collaborate with you on the problem you are facing and if they’re not currently under heavy artillery fire they will help you out.
- Question: Have you ever worked on something you did not believe in? I know the feeling. You don’t know what you’re doing and why you have to do it and what exactly will be accomplished and what is your contribution to the project. All of these questions loom in our heads when we are asked to do something but we’re afraid to question them because we fear our annual “appraisal” meetings and a million other things. The beauty of working here is that I do not have to work on a feature unless and until I am completely convinced that what I am going to do is going to enhance the customer experience and is a valid request. You can question the validity of the feature proposed and have a discussion of the pros and cons of this and when you’re satisfied about the functional requirements and a solid analysis of the background of the feature, you will be able to work better than when you just blindly do what is asked of you. This I believe is one of the best, if not the best, things about Lean Station.
- Not just a developer: Being a developer at lean station does not mean that you are going to be restricted to your role. Depending on the situation you might have to handle customer support, participate in the hiring process, write blog posts such as this. You will be given opportunities to go above and beyond your job description and only if you are willing to seize those opportunities to explore what your comfort zone is what is not and doing them anyway is how we know that you are a good fit for us.
If you are expecting me to say that life is all rainbows and unicorns when you start working here, I’m going to burst your bubble. You will end up working harder than you previously did but the upside is that you will love to work harder. You will end up spending more time in front of the computer than you previously did but you will enjoy it. You will get frustrated when you are in an online meeting and you don’t understand what exactly is going on because your internet sucks but you will learn to listen more intently. You will learn a lot of things but you will also unlearn a lot of other things. You will begin to love the process that is going to take you to your destination more than the destination itself and when you finally get there you might actually miss it. If this sounds like something you will enjoy then you’re at the right place.