Habush Habush and Rottier

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Epic's Principles, Part 9

Epic's 13 principles
1. Do not go public.
2. Do not be acquired.
3. Expectations = reality.
4. Keep commitments.
5. Be frugal.
6. Have standards. Don't do deals.
7. Create innovative and helpful products.
8. Have fun with customers.
9. Follow processes. Find root causes. Fix processes.
10. Don't take on debt for operations, no matter how good the deal.
11. Focus on competency. Do not tolerate mediocrity. 
12. Teach philosophy and culture.
13. If you disagree, dissent. Once decided, support.

If Epic actually meant "philosophy and culture" as it's understood by most people, then it's an abject failure. But if they meant "Drink the kool-aid until you drown in it," then they're doing pretty well. Paraphrased as "Teach Epic's philosophy and culture," then the principle makes perfect sense.

Epic has a particular philosophy and culture which many businesses don't adhere to, so the business philosophies that new Epic employees just spent 4-6 years studying in college don't always apply. Epic has to instruct these new employees in the specific way that Epic runs. Sometimes Judy provides this instruction bluntly in the monthly staff meetings, at other times the employee just picks it up by diffusion.

One of Epic's unique business philosophies is that "it's better to hire someone with no relevant experience and train them from the ground up than to hire a seasoned software developer and have them unlearn everything so they can do Epic development." As flawed as I think that belief is, it is fully in tune with Epic's philosophy, and it is definitely taught.

I'm drawing blanks on other examples of Epic's philosophy. Add your own in the comments.

As for Epic's culture, they don't teach this as explicitly. In theory, it's laid back (e.g., no dress code) and  flexible (work hours). In practice, there is a distinct dress code that successful Epic employees follow--nice blue jeans and at minimum, a nice-looking "casual" shirt. Holey sweat pants and Packers jerseys might work once in a while if worn ironically, but if you show up every day looking like that, you're not going to work there long. The flexible hours (as I've written before) amount to "Come in as early as you'd like before 9 am, and stay as late as you need to after 5 pm." You either learn the culture and drink the kool-aid, or you leave the company.

Epic does teach its philosophy, but it doesn't teach its culture. You're expected to learn and follow both.