Our Business Axioms
In the summer of 2008, MicroTools attended a leadership conference. The keynote speaker (Bill Hybels) introduced the following idea:
“Winning leaders have winning points of view—succinct, practical, portable leadership proverbs that help them arbitrate decisions and rouse troops to action.“
While debriefing from the conference we realized that, as a company, we have a set of succinct, practical proverbs that help us make decisions and encourage us to be successful in our business. The following represents MicroTools’ Business Axioms
1. If it’s not tested it doesn't work – Early on in our lives as engineers, we found that the one little change to our design, our code, or document - that seemed so obvious – and should just work – didn’t. This axiom has forced us to heighten our attention to test, test and test some more. Unfortunately, we have found that even if it is tested, it still may not work! For more see - http://microtoolsinc.com/0495feat.pdf
2. Always weigh the “personal”/ the eternal – As engineers, it is easy for us to get caught up with the task – the problem – the project, and miss what really matters. At the end of the day, our co-worker – our spouse – the people who are our customers – matter more than any project – any schedule or any problem.
3. Ask for help. Self-reliance and independence are great traits to have in an employee. But we all need to know when to ask for help. Often we are absorbed in some question or problem when the answer is just a phone call or office away. We are cultivating an environment where we can freely admit our weaknesses and lack of knowledge and ask for help..
4. Two heads are better than one – In our field, the industry has attempted to improve software engineering efficiency through a process called “Extreme Programming.” We hold to the principles of Extreme Programming where applicable. If you are designing something complex, this axiom says – work together. For more information, see the links at: http://microtoolsinc.com/process_improvement.php
5. Write it down – Many of us struggle with all of the information that passes over our desk and through our email each day. Most is not worth writing down. But we err more on the side of not writing down. Here are things that must be written down at MicroTools:
6. Pray about it – 47% of Americans pray every day. 82% pray sometimes. At MicroTools, decisions should be bathed in prayer – petitioning for help; asking for direction; and then listening!
7. Check back to see what you said – Very often we make clear commitments and decisions and write it down – but never go back to see if we are following it. You made the decision or commitment for a reason. You wrote it down because it was important. But “information leaks.” We are overwhelmed with information and we forget. Check to see what you actually said.
8. If it can help - make it known – We live in the information age and our field has much more information than anyone can handle. If you find a helpful tip or technique or a lesson learned, let the rest of the team know.
9. Keep our schedules known – Many of us at MicroTools have a myriad of commitments that affect our work schedule. If you are going to be late – let us know. If you are leaving early – let us know. If you are going to a customer site – let us know.
10. Think cost versus benefit – As engineers, we love to invent and create. Sometimes we can create a little tool or buy a little gadget to help us. And that is strongly encouraged at MicroTools. But it always needs to be done in the context of the question – “How much time and/or money will this save in the long run compared to what it will cost to build or buy or go without.”
11. Don’t buy electronics hardware until you need it – Electronics is changing in price and performance so rapidly that all hardware acquisitions should be delayed to the last possible minute prior to its need.
12. Bring excellent value to our customers – Developing Software and Hardware systems costs a tremendous amount of money. We need to perform our work in such a way that our customers consider us an excellent value.
13. Don't sweat impossible schedules. We work in an environment where time-to-market can make or break a company. We strive to be very responsible engineers who want to make our customers successful as well as to make MicroTools successful. But many times, our schedules are just impossible. We need to do everything we can to help our customers meet their schedules while at the same time not letting it keep us up at night.
14. 40 hours pay for 40 hours work – For our employees, MicroTools strives to minimize overtime. There is more to life than work. When MicroTools started, Joseph and Bob agreed to keep their work time to no more than 45 hours per week. It is rare that we ask our employees to work more than 40 hours. This is very rare in our industry. However, we expect our employees to work hard during those 40 hours.
15. MicroTools is responsible for your work – No person carries the weight of any decision alone. What you do affects each person in the organization.