Silicon Valley day 3: Vision and values

Day three of our trip in San Francisco, and what a day! Probably the day with the most appointments. I'm going to short take you along the visits we've had. Let’s go!
31 oktober 2017
Àpun Houben
  • Agile

Salesforce – One big family with one hell of an inspirational leader

25.000 employees, 150.000 customers and they all are part of the ohana: family. Agile working is not even a real topic within Salesforce: they breathe the agile principles throughout their whole way of working and therefore their culture. What they use? V2MOM:

  • Vision: where are we going?
  • Values: what substantiates all decisions?
  • Methods: what do we use?
  • Obstacles: what are we up against?
  • Measures: are we making progress?

But in order to facilitate this vision, they have one hell of an inspirational leader; Marc Benioff. He even started the discussion about equality (one of the core values) with a state government before doing business there.

Delancey Street – Prison walk versus doing dishes

Delancey Street is a community where people with nowhere to turn, turn their lives around. Former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have hit bottom get an opportunity to recreate their lives. We met Bruce and Antonio, both former prisoners. They told us what Delancey street is about and how the system works. Interesting are the roles within the system, they use roles as ‘minions’ for all people, tribes for certain groups and every tribe has a barber (head) and a leader.

Github – A startup which isn’t a real startup anymore

At Github we started off with a tour along with the office dog. Laura and Mendy showed us the workplaces and of course all the cool rooms. A nap room, a nursery room and a library. But also a vending machine for office supplies like chargers and mousepads. Interesting at Github is how very transparent they are. And that transparancy can also mean a lot of documentation. Especially with more international locations; how do you make sure everything is transparent and accesible?

Also the flexibility of each employee: you have to be able to do a job tomorrow that you’re not even hired for today. And at last; it’s not a particular method they use: they just use what works best. Even though they don’t label it as a method.



Steelcase – More than furniture

At Steelcase we had an interesting talk with Laura Shirley about the agile way of working and its values that come with it. Steelcase is so much more than a supplier of office furniture: they really understand what agile working means for an organization, along with what furniture facilitates this way of working. Not only they see the development of agile working and try to participate with that, but they also try to think ahead.

Change might be the animal that eats you – Laura Shirley

Comedy club – Finishing up with a drink and a good laugh

The last event of the day was at the Punchline Comedy Club with two standup comedians as preprogram, before the headliner Noah Gardenswartz took over the stage. We had a good laugh and it was a great way to end the day.


So, what are the biggest lessons I’ve learned? First of all, agile working is not a method or even a way of thinking. It is in everyone’s blood. They feel agile, they act agile and it’s real part of their culture. They all are driven by their core values and it doesn’t even matter which way of working they use. As long as it works. So to be honest, we saw very little scrumbords or anything else. Second, to work like that, you need to have an inspirational leader or leaders. And third, which is interesting, the biggest fear of employees is losing entrepreneurship by being taken over by a bigger company.

Àpun Houben