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.


  1. I've been reading your blog and trying to find information about the blacklisting of consultants- looking to leave 90-120 days post go-live as an instructional designer, and I have had all kinds of answers about remaining in "good standing" from Epic's perspective. I have heard 90 days, 120 days, and that it only applies to the AC's, not "trainers". I am certified but on the training team and looking to leave to get into consulting. Any knowledge on this? I don't want to jeopardize any opportunities

    1. I've heard time ranges all over the place too. Most of the hearsay I've been party to is regarding builders, not trainers though. Usually, I hear that you can't leave within 90 days of a go live if you want to have any dealings with Epic in the future. Some other commenters mention experiencing blacklist-type stuff, but I haven't seen it first hand.

  2. I am currently considering a PM offer (with a high degree of concern and skepticism) and wonder whether you feel the skills developed are transferable elsewhere. I can imagine doing the work for a few years but don't want to focus an entire career on Epic EMR. What are your thoughts in terms of the skills developed and whether they would be attractive to an employer down the road?

    1. The skills are highly transferrable, but I don't know if Epic actually has it's IS complete the actual project management certifications that other companies value. You will get the skills, but you'll have to find a way to stand out in a sea of other folks who have the skills and the paper trail.

    2. IS do not get official certification for anything nationally recognized, like the PMP. They get their "IS certification" which is a watered-down mini implementation process, and severely lacking in any of the language found in recognizable certifications like the PMP or CAPM.

      IS do well in other careers, but many end up back doing Epic build or project management for the money.

    3. Same poster. Am I crazy considering this job given that I value having a social life/exercise? My expectation is to come in and try to establish strong habits and boundaries, but I don't know how possible that is

  3. Having worked on implementations for another software before Epic, the PM stuff they teach you is minimal and not all that useful in the real world.