Umbraco has such a huge and dedicated community of developers, I’d thought that I’d just need to post some sort of speculative job description and an orderly queue would form at the door.
I was wrong, aforementioned job description did little more than attract a swarm of rabid recruitment agents and the occasional contractor with a week or two to spare. What was I doing wrong?
I spoke to a colleague or two - and they pointed out the obvious to me. A quick 10 bullet point job description doesn’t convey the goals and aspirations of Moriyama, and more importantly why we think it is a good place to work.
I had to tell the Moriyama story they said, to sell the role and explain how it differs from any other out there - so I’ll begin at the beginning.
In 2005 I was a contractor working at an investment bank. I was throwing together “enterprise” content management solutions for the various business units - with both ease and contempt. We’d recently been moved from a plush office with large windows offering excellent views of London, to the windowless basement. The bank had acquired another smaller bank - and we were IT, and the bankers were more important than us, so we got put in the basement.
My job was well paid, more so than my remittance from Moriyama - but the work was sole destroying.
At the end of a long boring, and frustrating day I got into the lift to ascend to ground level and wearily loosened my tie.
“Ferguson, put your tie back on when you are in the office.” It was a line manager of some sort. I won’t tell you how I responded exactly, but there were three F’s in my answer and it led to the end of a 4 year run at the bank.
It was meant to happen obviously - the universe had been telling me to get out for some time. But what next?
I’d been toying with Umbraco for some time - and becoming enthused. I didn’t dislike my day to day work, rather the tech that I was using and to some extent some of the (internal) customers I was working for.
This was the day where the ideas and the ethos of Moriyama began to form. It feels like I should have the date recorded - and there should be an official “Moriyama day”, but I don’t.
Some of our founding principles were immediately obvious to me:
No ties (ever)
No other sort of dress code
Flexibility over working hours and location
Controlled working hours
Respect and decency in communication between us and clients
A flat hierarchy - I’ll explain more later
Some of the other principles evolved over time - and I’ll get to them.
It took Moriyama some years to grow from just me into a “proper” company but our core values that exist today were obvious right away - I’d been working in IT for 10 years at this point and I aspired to start a business that ironed out all of my pet hates.
The tie thing is personal, I always hated them. People often ask why I always wear a polo shirt - it is because I hate having anything around my neck - lanyards included. Does that make me odd?
The flexibility of working hours, and controlled working hours were also really important. I’d suffered as an employee - working late nights because a producer or an account manager had made unrealistic promises to a client. As a younger employee you can be afraid to say no when asked to do the extra hours.
Instead of putting our staff in this position we have a relatively flat hierarchy. Developers give their own estimates (with assistance) and it is the responsibility of the business if projects overrun - not the individual to meet unrealistic commitments in their free time.
Everyone who works in an operational role at Moriyama has been a developer at some point, we don’t have career project managers or producers here.
I’d also realised that I could be very productive away from the office - and some clients would insist I was always on site. The stress of the commute, or the constant interruptions of the office could kill my productivity. It didn’t make any sense. At Moriyama most workers are remote workers - and it is their choice when it is appropriate to be in the office.
Finally, I think everyone has had a boss or a client who hasn’t behaved particularly well and as a services business I knew we’d have times when communication got heated - without going into detail and giving away our trade secrets, we have ways to temper these situations and aren’t shy to speak to staff and clients head on when we feel respect isn’t being observed.
So as you are reading this, I hope you are interested in speaking to us about a role at Moriyama.
As time has passed, it has become apparent to us that the way we differ is to give freedom and flexibility to our staff, but in return it is crucial that they are doing the job they they want to be doing. Our system of freedom is an easy one to exploit and it doesn’t work for people who aren’t motivated.