Five Ways to Build a Great Corporate Culture

Today, Endgame was named a ‘Top Workplace’  by the Washington Post for the second consecutive year. The award is based on a broad survey of people at our company and other companies, and so I'd like to reflect briefly here on why workplace culture matters, and share some of what we've learned about how to build and sustain a good one.

Companies can fail to meet their potential for many reasons -- product shortcomings, poor customer service, sloppy execution, market dynamics beyond their control. But when they succeed, it is almost always because of the people they have attracted -- their grit, mission-focus, collaboration, respect for each other, and excellence.

I’m honored to work with such a  group of people at Endgame. We like to say this is an "elevator assets company," where all we have that matters goes down the elevator at night and goes home. In a talent-driven business, our success depends upon our ability to recruit and retain this kind of team, and then for that group to be much more than only the sum of its parts.

As the company has grown, we’ve tried to keep five things front-and-center with respect to workplace culture and great talent:

Start with Values 

Our company values are integrity, boldness, speed, openness and responsibility. We paint them on the office walls, and I took some heat from our crew for mentioning them in a TV interview. But what really matters is living them -- who do you hire? Who do you promote? Who do you fire? Values are the North Star that allow a team to make choices and move quickly without seeking permission for every decision.

Put the Mission First 

Cybersecurity is among the toughest business and national security challenges of our time. Endgamers believe deeply in our mission to protect the world’s data from attack, and know that our ability to tackle this problem will have profound impact on the world -- how we communicate, transact, learn, and live. The ability to work on an issue that is on the front page of the newspaper every day is something that galvanizes us as a team and inspires us to continue to stay ahead of advanced attackers.

Encourage Professional Growth

Daniel Pink's wonderful book, DRIVE, makes the case that people seek three things in their jobs: mastery, autonomy, and purpose. We don’t view the professional development of mastery as an added perk, but as a necessity. Staying ahead of evolving threats requires a team of people who constantly strive to remain at the top of their field. We encourage employees to participate in the broader community by publishing research, attending classes, or by speaking at conferences. We have a patent incentive system. We have a bias in favor of internal promotions. All these things together reinforce a culture that values learning and achievement, both as individuals and as a team.

Ensure Diversity in Every Sense

The security industry is failing, and we will never succeed in thinking differently without different skill sets, backgrounds and perspectives at the table. So no matter who you are – academics, hackers, public servants, or industry gurus - if you are driven and willing to collaborate, then we have a place for you. More diversity within teams leads to greater innovation, and that’s why we’re committed to hiring a diverse workforce at Endgame. In a hard-fought war for talent, we need to have a workplace where everyone feels welcome and empowered to be his or her best self regardless of gender or race or any other personal characteristic. It's both the right thing to do and a business imperative.

Allow for Workplace Flexibility

We don’t believe in punching time cards, but rather knocking out code and content during your and your team’s optimal work hours. Think like an athlete -- train when you best train, sprint and recover, but be ready to win during your time on the field. We encourage collaboration within and across teams, and try to have our physical space and operating rhythm reflect that. This helps us foster those serendipitous encounters and open communication that allow for innovation.

We're still learning. I'd love to hear ideas and suggestions from others focused on doing this well. To learn more about Endgame, watch our mission video or check out our careers page.