Understanding the Rules of the Game

If you're contributing to a company, understand the rules of the game. It's important to understand how the score is kept, but equally as important to shortcut the score. It will lead to having more success in your role.

In this podcast, Guy Spier and Jim O’Sheanom… talk about the class system in Britain and understanding the “rules of the game”. As they talked through their opinions, I very much resonated with the framing and immediately applied it to work.

The simplest form of this is company politics. If you've ever thought, “people who are good at playing politics do well at this company”, you've seen them understand the rules of the game.

As an contributor to the company, we try to find places to contribute that have value alignment then we contribute. I assume your reading this because you want to maximize your success at your place of work.

Start by evaluating what the “culture” truly represents, not necessarily what they are saying. There's subtle hints based on deliverables, verbage, goals and priorities. At Convictional, they believe in long term thinking. This manifested in a number of ways like focusing on long term learning (Ex. Book clubs), talking about projects first by the year long impacts on customers first and more. If verbiage like “fast” is used, or intentionally taking on tech debt (Ex. Skipping Tests, short term system design decisions), then they probably value velocity, or speed to solving short term problems for customers. It’s hard to be specific, but try to take a step back, silently observe and write it down.

People will see you as a more productive contributor if you do what others value. “the first 10 hires, determine the next 100.” This advice is shared with founders all of the time. The truth is founders often align company values to their values. With each hire, they align to similar values. No sense going against the grain, you're not changing people. If you don't align, it's easiest to just leave.