Guide - Artefact

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This is not a handbook.

It is not something you need to keep close at hand, turning to when you have questions and are looking for answers. It’s not about where to find 11x17 glossy paper or the DSLR camera. That’s what your colleagues are for. This is a directional guide containing advice and information that you probably only need to read once.

This is about the way we work, the philosophies we have, and the way we get things done around here.

Chapter One

What Matters

At Artefact, we aren’t big on the daily grind mentality. Our company values, objectives and philosophy are a direct reflection of the kind of studio culture we want to inspire: where everyone involved is driven to create world-class next-generation products and user experiences with meaningful, positive impact.

What Matters at Artefact

Chapter Two

Who We Are

Simply put: we strive to be the best. And we’re looking for more like us. Our recruiting radar is always on: seeking the next superstar from every discipline. It takes drive, creativity and a passion for solving tough challenges (and we mean tough). This section will tell you all about what we look for and what your roles are in a project-based organization like ours.

Who We Are

Chapter Three

How We Do Things

This isn’t our first rodeo, and we’ve learned a lot over the years. Get a glimpse into the basics of what exactly it is we do here, how we run the day-to-day operations of the studio and what to expect your first day, week and month at your home away from home.

How We Do Things

Chapter Four

How Am I Doing?

We’ve got our own way of going about the internal review process. Clarity is the name of the game. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible about feedback, growth and compensation, taking any mystery out of the equation so you can get back to what you do best – solving really tough problems and creating great experiences.

How Am I Doing?

What Matters at Artefact

"If you don't know where you're going any road will take you there." UNKNOWN

The Art of Work

It’s probably time we come up with a new word for “work” in the 21st century. Because the way we work at Artefact has little to do with “labor” or “toil” or any of those antiquated notions. There is no question that the “future of work” is in fact the here and now at Artefact. Creative workers operate under an entirely different paradigm than even a generation ago. Yet we are hard pressed to throw off the shackles of the old way to embrace the new. By “we” I mean all of us – not Artefact, the company, but we the people. Artefact the company wants to leave behind all that old business, but we the people can’t help doing what we already know, whether we learned it from our last job or from our parents. The art of work requires operating in a new way (see: the rest of this guidebook). Artefact the company can only do so much to be the change the work world needs. The rest is up to us.

Work at Artefact is not just a matter of making money and sustaining ourselves. How we do it, how we manage it, what we get out of it – it’s in a realm beyond the significance of a paycheck. It’s about purpose, quality, progress, and also happiness. The attitudes and emotions we absorb and display at work go home with us at the end of the day and affect our family, our friends, our community, the world. So it’s pretty important we get this right.

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

We are curious by nature and have many different sources of inspiration. One of them is Daniel Pink’s book: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. It’s about the science of motivation and the three things that drive motivation at work. These are our values: we believe in them and refer to them often in our thinking and doing.

Autonomy

The desire to direct our own lives.

We get to make a lot of decisions here, and we are empowered in many ways to direct our own work life. We like it that way and are always looking for more ways to advance choice. Now, there are some natural boundaries to autonomy in a business setting, especially a consulting business, so let’s just say that up front. For example, most of the work you do at Artefact will be in the context of client work (not to mention teamwork) and this has the potential to undermine autonomy. Autonomy is not “independence” so we have to be careful not to confuse the two. Autonomy also requires a lot of communication. Where are you? What are you working on? What’s the status of x? These are questions that require proactive answers in an autonomous environment.

Mastery

The urge to get better at something that matters.

Presumably we are all here because we think the kind of work we do matters, and we also want to get better at it. We do some things to try to help each other get better, but ultimately it’s up to each of us. This is a thing called “inherent motivation,” and there’s nothing we can do to give you that if you don’t already have it. Passion and interest cannot be taught. So bring it!

Purpose

The yearning to do what we do in service of something larger and more enduring than ourselves.

This is where Artefact can and does attempt to provide us with the thing we need, in this case: purpose. Artefact’s purpose is the advancement of 21st Century Design – designing for a preferable future. There’s a whole section on 21st Century Design coming up, but we can’t say it enough. In fact, repeat after us, “21st Century Design: Improving lives by design.” Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Quality, Profitability, Best Place to Work

Artefact has three objectives. They are all intertwined and interdependent. There’s really no way that one can be above or below another. In the ideal scenario all three are balanced in perfect tension. Here they are. Know them. Live them.

Quality

This is our raison d'être: creating and delivering high-quality work. It is the basis for Artefact’s success. We talk about quality all the time. We make trade-offs in favor of quality. Artefact exists because of quality, bar none. You may be asking yourself, “But how do you define quality?”

It’s really hard to give a single answer to that question. Things like spelling or basic math can be easily judged with regard to quality because there is usually a single right answer (unless you are a Brit and an Aussie spelling the word “artifact” in the U.S.). Thus, the measure for quality at Artefact is based on each of us answering this question: “Am I proud of this work?” Like so many creative endeavors, the work we do is often never complete, never good enough. However, we have deadlines, budgets, and competing priorities. We are constantly balancing what is achievable against time, budget, and resources, so the question is actually, “Given time, budget, and resources constraints… am I proud of this work?”

We are a consulting company. To look at quality only in terms of deliverables will not take us very far if we overlook the quality of our service and our relationships with clients. That is why we are selective in the clients and projects we work with. When a relationship is based on mutual respect for each other’s values, goals and approach, it is much easier to build trust and work with clients rather than for clients.

Profitability

The reason why this is important is pretty obvious. People who work here depend on Artefact for their livelihoods, and that is no small thing. We can’t pretend profitability doesn’t matter. But we can reject that idea that profitability is the “be all end all” of business. We can reject the widely accepted notion that one can never make too much money. What it really comes down to is sustainability. Healthy profitability allows us to keep doing the work that we do and to keep employing our good people. Being an independent company also gives us freedom: to create the kind of company we want to be and, in the end, to define success as more than just making more money.

Best Place To Work

Best place to work is Artefact’s intrinsic purpose. The first two objectives of quality and profitability enable us to be the best place to work, and being the best place to work also enables us to do high quality work, while being profitable. So, like I said, it’s all related. The point is: you should enjoy coming to work at Artefact and sincerely tell all your friends that it is the best place to work.

Which leads us to...

21st Century Design

21st Century Design is our purpose, our yearning to do what we do in service of something larger and more enduring than ourselves. We believe we have a responsibility to do more than just create the ephemeral, the luxurious, the cool, and the beautiful. Those things are nice – we like all of those things – but the 21st century requires more than that. We take seriously the impact of Design – yep, design with a capital “D” – socially, culturally, ethically, and environmentally.

You still with us? Good! Yes, it sounds lofty, and it is lofty. That is the point of purpose. And no, not every client that hires us believes in this philosophy the way we do. But that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we believe in it, and we strive for it in what we do.

How do we do it? Well, we’re armed like design ninjas with powerful knowledge of our human biases and frailties. It’s true, we’re biased and frail, but at least life for us is no longer nasty, brutish, and short (we hope).

You could argue that option three is at best ‘Benevolent Paternalism’ (or just plain arrogance) and at worst ‘Big Brother.’ That would only be accurate if we were limiting choices, rather than using what we know to inform better choices. We do the latter.

It’s important you understand what 21st Century Design means at Artefact. Check out Rob’s whitepaper to read more. And engage your colleagues in debate about the application of 21st Century Design to our everyday work, so that it becomes more authentic and actionable. Above all things, the philosophy and practice of 21st Century Design at Artefact are the most “in the making.”

So knowing what we know, we have several choices for putting that knowledge to use in our work:

Ignore what we know and shape behavior in a completely arbitrary and unplanned way.

(WE FROWN UPON THIS.)

Participate openly with declared and responsible outcomes in mind.

(THIS IS THE IDEAL AND REQUIRES ENLIGHTENED AND SOPHISTICATED CLIENTS AS PARTNERS.)

Quietly manipulate behavior.

(FOR PREFERABLE OUTCOMES THIS IS A PASSABLE OPTION.)

Who We Are

“The only normal people you know are the ones you don't know very well.” UNKNOWN

Hiring The Best People

The most important thing we do at Artefact is recruit the best people to work here with us. This is not in conflict with our three business objectives described above; it is the basis for them. If we don’t hire great people, we potentially jeopardize quality and damage long-term profitability. It goes without saying that without great people, this would not be a great place to work.

Finding the Best People

Finding the best people, interviewing them and actually hiring them takes a long, long time. It’s not a cycle, it’s a lifestyle. Welcome to the life of “Always Looking for the Best People.” We are always looking, and we are always hiring.

So tell your friends! You probably have a few of the best of the best in your network. Go tell them about Artefact, and then tell Dave, Artefact’s recruiter, about them.

But it doesn’t end there. We all need to be “out there” talking to people, building relationships with them, and making sure those who aren’t looking for a job right now know about Artefact for when they are. We need your help doing that.

Here are some ideas: You could go talk at your former school. You could represent Artefact at a recruiting event. You could sponsor (with Artefact’s help) a graduating class project. Or you could just tell us about lead-generating opportunities that you know of – a speaker you saw; a great article; a rumor; and news on hot firms (waning firms), up-and-coming schools, conferences, and new professional organizations. It takes all of these things to get one “best” employee.

Who are the Best People?

For now, we can say that there are three common things required for every role we hire for at Artefact, regardless of discipline: creative-thinking skills, differing perspectives, and motivation. When interviewing candidates, we do try to understand those qualities as completely as possible.

Creative thinkers are who we are. As interviewers we ask ourselves, does the candidate have a natural ability to see and solve challenging problems? Can they reframe a problem to help unlock a wider array of solutions? Do they thrive on finding inspiration and making connections from their surroundings? An individual’s distinct lens and point of view is what makes us different.

We like different. Different perspectives, life experiences, and situations coming together to tackle problems is what makes us great at human-centered design. We’re a truly international company, from Iowa to Uganda, our people come from all over the world. As a whole, we represent a range of life stages, hobbies, and motivations. These differences create unique perspectives that make us a better company and better problem-solvers. Differences are what elevate us.

As diverse in background as we are, we come together with equally varied motivations. At Artefact, we put a lot of emphasis on intrinsic motivation, or doing things because they are personally rewarding. It’s intrinsic motivation that leads us to persevere when we’re stuck or we know a project is not turning out the way it should. To that end, we are tireless in our efforts to ensure the work we do is rewarding, unified by the company mission to create products that leave a positive impact on society.

Project and Company Roles

Roles are incredibly useful for understanding how a project-based company practically operates. Project-based companies are always forming and re-forming project teams.

People are constantly working with other different people. Who does what? How do decisions get made? Who is responsible for certain things? How does everyone work together to achieve a common goal? There is also the question of how can I grow at Artefact? Which, of course, is a question one would have whether they were in a project-based organization or not.

Roles are required to answer those questions in a rapidly changing environment. You can in one scenario have a certain role and in another scenario hold a different role. There are also a few cases where you could hold more than one role simultaneously (Project Leader and Coach or Project Advisor and Coach, for example).

Roles are not "what you are" but "what you do," and we have three project roles at Artefact:

Individual Contributors

Project Leaders

Project Advisors

Individual Contributors (aka Specialists)

The first and most important thing to note is that people can have a great and unencumbered career at Artefact as an Individual Contributor (IC). You need not become a “manager” to advance both monetarily and opportunistically, (which is good because we don’t technically have any managers). ICs make high quality contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and solid work ethic.

People who are early on in their careers will start as an IC. As they advance in their career, they can choose to continue on the IC path by way of becoming a Fellow, or they can divert to becoming a Coach. More on that later…

Project Leaders

Project Leaders not only possess great individual craft but also great team and client management skills. They execute the work and own the creative direction for projects. Project Leaders must be good at organizing people and resources. They are constantly setting expectations with teammates, minimizing unwelcome surprises, and selling the team’s ideas both internally and externally. Re-scoping and communication (with team and client) are crucial skills.

Project Leaders’ day-to-day activities and overall responsibilities will vary greatly with the type, size, and length of project. Regardless of the project, the Project Leader owns the creative direction for the project. That is the essence of their role, along with ensuring quality, profitability, and best place to work for the benefit of both Artefact and the client, of course. Project Leaders are also expected to have good sensibilities for business development, and it’s a crucial skill to go from being a Project Leader to a Project Advisor

Project Advisors

Project Advisors are experienced practitioners and excellent leaders. They are the people at Artefact who are primarily responsible for developing new business (working collaboratively to sell Artefact’s work and expertise. They catalyze commitment to the pursuit of Artefact’s objectives: quality, profitability, best place to work and do not go more than a week without uttering those words, which have been spoken so many times they now read like this: qualityprofitabilitybestplacetowork.

Every project at Artefact has a designated Project Advisor who supports the Project Leader, inspires the project team, and makes sure the client is happy. They augment the team with relevant materials and hands on support, if needed. They provide objective feedback on quality expectations and tradeoffs amongst quality, profitability, and best place to work. They participate in project critiques and milestone client meetings, resolving client issues if any arise and constantly looking for new opportunities to extend and deepen our relationships.

The roles so far have described project-based roles, but there are two other roles that are focused on the company itself.

Coaches

A Coach is someone who is good at and cares about helping others reach their potential. They demonstrate a high level of skill within their discipline or expertise, and they enjoy passing those skills on to others. They are an advocate, helping to define career paths, develop skills (technical, consulting, leadership, etc.), and, most importantly, they are accountable to the people they coach. The simple definition of a Coach is someone who is responsible for looking out for others beyond the context of a project.

You may be asking what the difference is between a coach and a manager. And the truth is they are not that far apart. We feel that a “manager” comes with a lot of baggage – there are many bad managers out there. Plus, the kind of day-to-day management that most of us associate with having a “manager” actually comes from the Project Leader in the context of a project. Coaches take the long view. If managers are like politicians (short-term gains) then coaches are like statesmen (long-term success).

Fellows

At Artefact you are not forced into a role in order to continue to progress in your career. Let’s be honest, some people suck at being coaches. We aren’t all nurturers and that’s okay. We don’t want to force anyone who’s not into it to do it. Nor do we want to subject anyone to having a bad coach. Therefore, as an IC, when you get to the fork in the road where it’s time to think about what your next step at Artefact will be, you’ll have another option.

If being a Coach isn’t your calling, you have the alternate choice of becoming a Fellow. A Fellow is someone who demonstrates practice or domain excellence. Fellows can be thought leaders as well as expert practitioners. Their goal is to master their craft, elevate Artefact’s profile, and, (the ultimate incarnation of a Fellow) to have outside recognition for their expertise. They take mastery to the nth degree.

Fellows may elevate others within their practice/domain by virtue of their awesomeness (setting the bar, providing best practices, offering critiques), but they are not Coaches in the sense that they are specifically tasked and subsequently evaluated by how well they bring others up. A Fellow contributes to the overall quality of Artefact, and not likely to any particular individual.

How We Do Things

“Chaos often breeds life, while order breeds habit.” HENRY ADAMS, AMERICAN JOURNALIST AND HISTORIAN

We Work on Projects, but Build Relationships

Autonomy, mastery and purpose are the principles that guide our project work as well. We seek partnerships with companies who believe as we do in the power of human-centered design to lead to preferable outcomes. And we invest time, energy and enthusiasm in exploring the adjacent future in the areas we are passionate about – from social impact, to health and education, enterprise technology to virtual reality.

Client Projects

Our clients come to us for our talent, our vision and our values. They return not only because they are confident in the outcome of our collaboration, but because they get inspired by our passion and enjoy working with our people. It is this combination of high quality work and high quality experience that we strive to deliver -- from the initial introductory meeting with the prospect, to the final deliverable presentation. Of course, to achieve that you need to establish not client relationships, but true partnerships. And those are based on shared values, shared goals and shared respect.

Internal Projects

At Artefact, we have no shortage of great ideas, which is a great problem to have. So many ideas, in fact, that several years ago we kicked off our innovation program, Startefact, an internal pitchfest that allows people to share ideas, vote and collaborate on the ones that have most merit and turn visions into something more tangible – concepts, prototypes and even real solutions.

And boy, do we love internal projects. They stretch our abilities, push our creative and maker boundaries and give us the ability to tell our story our way. Above all, they start conversations and inspire others to create things we don’t always have the means to create ourselves.

The Studio

Our studio is in the Western Building in the heart of Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square district. We’re in the top two floors of an early 20th-century brick warehouse, saved from demolition by the efforts of the Pioneer Square Preservation Society and restored to become one of the most incredible office spaces in Seattle.

Finding the right neighborhood was important, and we set our sights on Pioneer Square. Unlike our old ‘hood in South Lake Union, Pioneer Square is filled with historic brick buildings, narrow alleys, and the rich history of early Seattle. On the flip side, there are quirky, new restaurants opening constantly, with some of the finest dining to be had in Seattle right now. Not to mention, the waterfront is just a short walk away. You can head to one of the stadiums for a game. Walk a few blocks north to Pike Place Market. Take the ferry across Elliot Bay – it’s maybe fifty paces from the office – to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton. You could say Pioneer Square is the heart of Seattle.

When we aren’t out eating, or taking in the scenery, we spend a lot of time together in the studio, which is why we worked so hard to find the right neighborhood and the right building. The Western Building provided the perfect blend of old and new, which reflects how Artefact thinks and works: Looking to the future through the lens of history. The old concrete walls, exposed beams, wood ceiling, and original windows are the mainstays of the studio design, on top of which we’ve overlaid simple, clean, and modern finishes. Glass walled conference rooms, open-ended project rooms with floor-to-ceiling whiteboards, small and useful phone rooms, and big open studio areas. There’s a shop with drills and saws and sanders and a bunch of other stuff that requires safety glasses and first aid kits. There’s shuffleboard, Nerf guns, and a Sonos music system that is playing pretty much constantly.

But the heart of the studio, as in many a home, is the café and kitchen area, which faces west, over the water. We gather regularly for lunch, bagels, cheese and crackers and beer. We meet with each other and with guests. We sit on the sofa and chat. We put on headphones and work while looking at the view out across the water of the Olympic Mountains.

Your First Day, Week, Months

Your first day is about meeting more of the great people that work at Artefact and learning about all the things that are usually included in an employee handbook, which this is not; thus you won’t find them here. We’ll have planned a loose schedule for your first week. It will include a brief operations orientation, some lunches and coffee talks with your colleagues, and some time to dig in to the work you will soon be doing – soon, as in, right away!

Shadowing

Which brings us to shadowing. If you are a billable employee, that means you are doing client work and you need to get up to speed on how we do client work at Artefact. If you’ve never worked in a consulting environment before, then shadowing is especially important.

Shadowing does not mean literally acting as a shadow. You won’t simply be following people around. There is a benefit in that, but only for so long, like a day. Shadowing at Artefact is meant to give you extra room for trial and error, for testing, and for asking other people for advice and feedback. Generally, whether a new Project Leader or a new Individual Contributor, you will shadow for at least two weeks and up to one month, as an “extra” (non-billable) resource on a project. That said, you will be getting your hands and brain busy owning a part of the project and delivering good work, just like everyone else on the team. There is always some way to contribute and to raise the quality bar.

You may also work on internal projects to get acquainted with Artefact. Oftentimes you will do a mix of shadowing and internal projects during your first several weeks.

The Team Meeting

Yeah, everybody knows about the typical all-staff meeting. The ones where the whole company gets together once every few months for hours and drones on about the state of the business. Yawn, right?

Not so at Artefact. Here, the team meeting is a welcomed institution.

Because we work in small, ever-changing teams in a fast-paced, autonomous environment, we need to maintain a certain rhythm in order to keep people aware of what’s going on. The main mechanism for that is the Wednesday Team Meeting. That’s right, every Wednesday. Its regularity helps keep our pace. The content allows us to know what is going on throughout the studio.

We run the Team Meeting with a clever little device called “Artefact in 90 Seconds.” It’s a slide show that we run off the 10,000ft platform. Each project team puts up an image slide and a 90-second countdown begins, during which someone from the team gives an update about the project. And that’s it! 90 seconds and you’re done. We include slides for operational updates and events too. It’s just enough time to get a sense for what’s going on and not long enough for anyone to drag on forever. The whole process typically takes about half an hour and we’ve found it to be an extremely efficient and valuable use of our time.

We follow this up with project recaps, company updates, weekend updates and the team favorite – welcome presentations from new employees!

How Am I Doing?

“There go my people. I must find out where they are going so that I can lead them.” ALEXANDRE LEDRU-ROLLIN, FRENCH POLITICIAN

How do I Grow at Artefact?

It’s crucial that people know what they need to do in order to reach new heights at Artefact, as well as earn recognition for each step in the bigger picture. We’ve got a thing for that.

It’s called Levels and is often a much-maligned subject of HR-enmity. However, as with most things, you can choose to do it well or do it poorly. Artefact has embraced levels for all that they are good for (clarity on growth and path and a forcing function for recognition) and has rejected them for what they are bad for (blind checklists and rigid structures that dampen a meritocracy and limit potential).

Levels provide clarity for both Coaches and individuals. They are not mere checklists, but guideposts. They allow the coaching relationship to have some legs to stand on. What would normally be expected at level x? How well is so-and-so doing on x criteria? The time has come to choose a Coach path or a Fellow path, which way do you want to go? The level structure, and more importantly the definitions attached to it, serves as a dialogue for growth. It helps ensure that there is a common path and a common language for everyone in the company.

Feedback and Progress

Feedback is what fuels growth. Feedback is at the heart of everyone’s success. Without it, you have no reference point for growth, no understanding of whether you are succeeding or failing, no awareness of the things you don’t even know you’re not good at.

Artefact has been committed to finding meaningful and effective ways to give feedback for a long time. We’ve used a number of different methods. We’ve experimented with various ways of gathering it and giving it. We thought long and hard about “best practices” and have rejected some and embraced others. And we’ve come up with a pretty good way to go about it.

The People Survey

Here’s a case where we believe simple, well-designed tools can help shape behaviors in a preferable way.

Expert opinion has long held that the best feedback is immediate, in person, and specific. What was good or not good about my presentation this morning? How useful was the asset I delivered just yesterday? What was my contribution to the meeting on Monday? What could I have done better in that interview we did together last Friday?

That kind of feedback is hard. Most people aren’t good at giving critical feedback in person and on the fly. They like a little bit of time to think about what they want to say. And if you succeed in making time for figuring out what you want to say, then you have to find time to actually say it. Next thing you know, you’re on to something else and making time to give that feedback never happens.

We recognize this is the case, and through our commitment to coaching, we hope to build this skill in our people and that eventually tools and systems for providing feedback become obsolete.

Between then and now, Artefact uses a tool called the People Survey. It’s our default, make-sure-it-happens-regularly way of ensuring people give each other feedback. A couple of times a year, everyone completes a short survey on the people they’ve worked with recently, as well as anyone else they choose.

We are all evaluated on our contributions to the same three things:

Quality

Profitability

Best Place to Work

There’s a simple quantitative assessment (5-point scale), but the real value of the survey comes from the qualitative comments. They are not anonymous (the only exception to this is feedback for your coach, which is shared only with your coach’s coach). As much as possible we want to be transparent. When you know who made a certain comment, you not only know who is making an investment in your growth via their offering of feedback, you can also follow up with for more detail or context. Non-anonymity avoids that icky paranoia about who said what and why.

The People Surveys are mostly a frequent assessment of how you are progressing. They are strongly peer-based and give you and your Coach a lot of insight on what’s going well and what needs improvement. Cumulatively, the People Survey data serves as a significant (but not singular) data point for determining an individual’s performance and pay. Which leads us to…

The Project Survey

While the People Survey is about informing you how you are doing, the Project Survey is about monitoring the quality of our projects. What factors contribute to quality and what factors detract from it? What types of clients or engagements produce the highest quality? How well are we scoping and executing?

There are hundreds of things we can learn from evaluating our project work. And if it hasn’t become clear to you yet – project work is the most important thing we do at Artefact (only rivaled by hiring great people because you can’t do one without the other). So projects deserve the same kind of self-reflection, analysis, and understanding that we give to any other area of Artefact.

The Project Survey usually runs alongside the People Survey, but it has a very different purpose. It is not meant as an important input in a person’s annual salary review (although it could be used for that). It is equally transparent if not more so. Each team member evaluates the quality of service and the quality of deliverables for their project, and the whole team gets a summary report of the comments. Artefact’s Project Advisors look across all the reports to look for ways to improve projects – both inside and out.

The Artefact Experience Survey

We didn’t think we loved surveys, but maybe we do? The Artefact Experience Survey is another way for us to check the quality of what we do, this time with the clients themselves. While not a replacement for frequent client check-ins, the Artefact Experience Survey is more about milestone pulse checks and project post-mortems. It is a way for us to get an objective (or as objective as possible) answer to the question: “How did we do? And did the work we did for you make a difference?”

At the end of each project, we give our clients a chance to anonymously share their impressions about the quality of our work, the quality of our service and, perhaps, most importantly, the impact we leave on them individually, as well as on their teams and their organizations.

Compensation

Artefact believes in paying above-average salaries with the hope that it’s not something you ever have to think about. This way, you can just concentrate on making good choices in your life and work.

It’s unreasonable to think that people are never going to think about their compensation or wonder when they might get a raise or just want to know what to expect from the whole process. So we try to be as transparent as possible about this subject.

“Compensation” is a broad term that includes all the ways in which you are compensated at your job. Artefact offers good pay and benefits and also a number of non-cash benefits like food and parking, vacation and sick time, parties and camaraderie – all of this adds up to total compensation. You can only really judge one company’s compensation versus another’s through the total experience of being there.

Like many organizations, each person at Artefact gets an annual salary review. Ours is a personal process though, not a bulk one. It happens during your anniversary month. It works is like this: HR gathers up a bunch of data including your people survey feedback for the past year, market data for your position, comments from your Coach or the people you coach, your starting salary/salary history/salary of peers, current level/starting level, etc. Rob, Gavin and HR review this data and an assessment is made with regards to a salary adjustment and/or a level promotion. Sometime during your anniversary month, you sit down with your Coach and talk it through.

We like this process because it’s personal. There is a special effort put forward to consider your individual time and contributions to the company, and to gather up as many relevant inputs about you and then to have a sincere discussion with you about where you are at and what your future looks like.

Final Thoughts

“Learning is no longer preparation for the job. Learning IS the job.” DAVE MEIER, FOUNDER OF ACCELERATED READER

Experimentation and Risk

Artefact is not averse to risk. Or maybe another way to say this is that we are not afraid to fail. As long as we learn something useful from our failure. And we don’t repeat it.

We try new things (10,000ft Insights). They don’t always work out (999 Bottles). We stop doing some things (traditional performance reviews) and start doing others (peer surveys). We strive for “close to perfection” – not actual perfection, deliberately, but pretty close.

Designing Artefact, the company, is an endless project. Experimentation requires a lot of feedback. And self-reflection. We do “Pulse Checks” once a year and basically ask each person here “How do you think we are doing?” We self-reflect about how our behaviors are shaping a preferable future of work, and we proceed ever closer to perfection.

The idea of learning-as-the-job applies not only to new people, but also to everyone at Artefact. We are all learning through first-hand experiences every day. We filter these experiences based on our own personal biases, and our experiences change as Artefact changes. Depending on our motivation, we determine to what lengths we are willing to test what we have learned and also just how much learning we are willing to acquire in the first place.

We hope that you come here – are here – with an unwavering willingness to acquire and test new knowledge and new learning. Artefact is the environment. You are the actor. The agent. The student. Commence learning and testing. The possibilities are endless…

Meritocracy

Here’s a case where we believe simple, well-designed tools can help shape behaviors in a preferable way.

Expert opinion has long held that the best feedback is immediate, in person, and specific. What was good or not good about my presentation this morning? How useful was the asset I delivered just yesterday? What was my contribution to the meeting on Monday? What could I have done better in that interview we did together last Friday?

That kind of feedback is hard. Most people aren’t good at giving critical feedback in person and on the fly. They like a little bit of time to think about what they want to say. And if you succeed in making time for figuring out what you want to say, then you have to find time to actually say it. Next thing you know, you’re on to something else and making time to give that feedback never happens.

We recognize this is the case, and through our commitment to coaching, we hope to build this skill in our people and that eventually tools and systems for providing feedback become obsolete.

Learning IS the Job

Dave Meier, the guy who founded the world-renowned training program called Accelerated Learning (which is actually kind of an anti-training) said, “Learning is no longer preparation for the job. Learning IS the job.”

There is no single training – there aren’t even combinations of trainings – that can provide the knowledge of how to contribute to making Artefact high quality, profitable, and the best place to work. That can only be learned day in and day out via each of our individual experiences.

We hope that you come here – are here – with an unwavering willingness to acquire and test new knowledge and new learning. Artefact is the environment. You are the actor. The agent. The student. Commence learning and testing. The possibilities are endless…