Creating an Inclusive Culture

In the days when Kicksaw was just getting started we had no idea we’d grow into what it is today. Kenny and I fully assumed that Kicksaw would be a lifestyle business without much growth to speak of. As of February of 2021 we’ve got ~30 FTE’s and we expect to double, at least, this year.

Doubling the size of any company is difficult, at Kicksaw we have some advantages and some disadvantages, opportunities and risks.

As an advantage, we have worked hard from the start to attract and retain team members who understand our culture and align with the type of workplace we want to create. We have reached a critical mass of people who drive our culture forward, it’s no longer just about founder-led culture.

There are disadvantages we face as well: we’re smaller, have fewer resources, we’re 100% remote, most people have never met each other, we’re spread across several time zones, and countries.

The opportunities we face are immense. We fully believe we’re on track to be the preeminent consulting firm in the SFDC ecosystem. We have tight product/market fit and a clear model to continue, and grow, business. 

In order for us to be the preeminent consulting firm in the ecosystem we’ll need more people, and more people who are different. In addition, we’ll need a strong culture to retain and develop those people.

The demographics of our company is in many ways different and in many ways the same. We have a significant contingent of veterans in the company, many who worked in tech, others who have self-taught, etc. etc. We are mostly male, mostly from similar backgrounds who look, talk and think the same way.

To continue our growth we’ll need more diversity. Diversity of knowledge, diversity of background, diversity of perspective. 

In every human relationship there is friction of some sort. It can be overt, at times or subdued and Kicksaw isn’t immune from this. We’ve had friction, at times, since it was just Kenny and I. This challenge will only increase as a byproduct of growth. More people with more perspectives leads to more misalignment and misunderstanding.

Because of this, we can’t draw hard lines in the sand on how every disagreement or misunderstanding ought to be resolved. Similar to how we can’t be the arbiter between pods and customers or two team members. 

We fully believe that Kicksaw has many informal leaders, it’s one of the things that makes us strong. Having a solid contingent of informal leaders, and a culture that supports them, is what got us to where we are today and will be a necessity for us to maintain growth. Informal leaders are the ones who take charge in a decision-vacuum, they’re the ones everyone looks to when things aren’t clear. They’re not recognized enough, instead they carry the weight of leadership without a formal title.

The same goes for our culture. Kenny and I have an impact on shaping the culture through the people we bring into the team, the expectations we set and the standard that we display. We consciously choose to hire veterans and seek candidates with a diverse background and skillset. We try to offer a salary and benefits that sit at the top of the market, to attract top-quality talent. Beyond that, the culture has been out of our hands since we first brought someone on the team. Our culture is not based on who the founders are but instead on who we bring into the fold and the unique traits they add. We’ve got kilt-wearers, bee keepers, surfers, hunters, bookworms and coders; all of which play a part in defining the culture of Kicksaw. 

As it pertains to culture, Kenny and I spend our time attempting to 1) set the vision for how we want team members to engage, disagree and collaborate and 2) act as an example for others to follow. Beyond that, it’s up to every person on the team to challenge each other to be better, communicate in an open, honest and fair way, assume the best of the other person and also set the example for others to follow.

I believe if we have everyone pulling in that direction and seek others who want to contribute to that culture the things we love about Kicksaw will only get better.