Who are We?
Mindkin Ltd. is a new kind of software product development company here in Wellington, New Zealand, that puts people, their contributions and their impact at the centre of the organisation.
We are founded by two older guys who were quite dissatisfied with the calibre and the fundamental mindset of tech companies in this geography and marketplace, and who know that it takes quite a bit more focus on people to create a culture and lifestyle that smart people love being involved and engaged in.
One of those founders of Mindkin (Andrew Kissling) founded one such company back in the 90's called Glazier Systems, which fostered a high-performance culture and grew many smart and successful people. Today, several of the more successful tech companies in NZ can trace their origins back to Glazier employees and its founders (like: Intergen, Provoke, Xero).
The other founder of Mindkin (Jezz Santos) spent over a 11 years at Microsoft working with a multitude of software organisations all over the globe, educating and evolving modern methods in software product development.
Both founders have now come back together in NZ to create a lean product development company that will be focused on a new kind of product development organisation that puts people and their contribution at the centre of the organisation. After all, a company, any organisation - is it's people.
Mindkin builds and hacks technology products.
Our first product is called Roam (www.roamride.co.nz), which is a peer-to-peer car sharing business, and technology platform. Roam is a sharing marketplace that helps people who own cars earn money by lending their cars to others who need cars ,close to where they need them.
Roam is to cars and car parks, what airbnb is to spare rooms.
See us on the news TVNZ 6 o'clock news
Mindkin is building Roam in-house, but it is not just a car sharing business. We are building the future technology of car sharing globally by providing a cloud platform and portable car technology that car sharing companies will want to apply and customize to their own car sharing business to get off the ground and compete in their county or city.
A software product like Roam, where its users require quick and seamless access to a service on various mobile devices needs to be designed and delivered very slickly for its customers.
"You can be the first, or you can be the sexiest" - anonymous
For that, we absolutely don't believe we can just dream up the perfect app or service from the confines of an office. We know we need to design specifically for the customers in the environment that they live and move about in.
"The only way to engineer the future tomorrow is to have lived in it yesterday" - Bill Buxton
To do that, we need to drive the learning and development process where our customers live.
"There are no facts inside your building, so get outside" - The Customer Development Manifesto
Product development is often divided from research and development in many organisations, but the reality is that research and experimentation is a critically necessary part of product development. For that reason Mindkin has a keen focus on user research driving and supporting product development, and we encourage a culture of experimentation and validation in all areas.
At Mindkin, we put a large emphasis on evolving and learning from building the right thing. This means that we do a lot of experimentation to discover and validate the right thing to build, and spend less time on investing in building (and maintaining) the wrong things. We approach features using a 'broad and thin' approach, where sufficient solutions are put in place and then evolved gradually driven by feedback and validation towards a final ever changing vision.
...a product is only done, when the last person stops using it.
When we commit to building it, we build it right. We use techniques that make it easy to change our minds and keep pace with continual change. We continually identify and understand the things that slow us down long term (like technical debt) and frequently invest in addressing those things (like paying refactoring tax) to stay on top of their inevitability. There is a keen focus on small increments and releasing often to speed the many feedback loops we have in place, and continually improving how we work and deliver to our customers.
Our Company Culture
You may have heard of Lean or Agile software development, but 'being' a Lean company and sustaining that requires a fundamental change in the foundation of the company and its culture to sustain and optimise long term. We are quite possibly unique in NZ because we can, and are growing that cultural intent from the ground up, right at the start, and a big part of that is how structure ourselves.
Our culture values and incentivises things like: learning, individual development, self-empowerment, teamwork and collaboration, customer focus, feedback and experimentation. We like everyone to come up with hypotheses, and prove or disprove them fast, and we have processes that encourage that mindset and makes it fun.
We inform design by user experiments and people observation because we know that what customers really want is not always just intuitive or obvious to those who have to innovate solutions for it, and we like to be surprised by what we find, and share that.
We build pairs, or teams of people who are: creative, empathetic and who are self-motivated to orient themselves to excel together to create value for our customers. What that value is, and how you go about finding it, is what working at Mindkin is all about.
Mindkin is an organisation where the sum of each person's brain power is greater than the number of people.
We believe that the sum of the parts does not make the whole, and that problems are resolved by optimizing the relationships between the parts rather than optimizing the parts themselves.
"To manage a system effectively, you might focus on the interactions of the parts rather than their behavior taken separately" - Russell Ackoff
We dislike vertical hierarchy in organisations where the brain is perceived to be at the top of the organisation. We know that when that disempowering mindset hardens, people find ways and excuses to disengage with the true purpose of the work, and often all that remains is a job - that is only worth doing for the money, and only because they can, or have been doing it for so long.
We believe that people excel best, and feel engaged most, when they are valued and respected by their peers or customers. And those people recognize that respect is a two way street.
To get respect you have to give respect.
We are skeptical of job positional titles that you find in the current employment marketplace that are geared to identify and associate a person' with a narrow skillset, like: product manager, sales executive, designer, developer, tester, business analyst etc. They just promote an early 20th century 'mass-production' mindset that people are fungible parts of a larger and ever sub-divided organisation of well labelled parts.
We know from over 20 years of playing in and building teams and organisations that people are multi-faceted and can contribute and create value from many diverse capabilities far beyond any narrow job description or traditional career path. We also recognize that people at many points in time have specific facets and skills that they will want to learn to apply and master at any one time.
What we believe people really want is a safe and secure environment and framework that allows them to contribute with the most impact they can at any one time. Where mistakes are tolerated as learning and then learned from.
For that reason, creating a learning and collaborative organisation is imperative so that these kinds of people can grow and remain engaged in what they do on the job.
Everyone needs at least one mentor
We believe that all people require mentors and leaders, and that those mentors and leaders are easily identifiable and self-selected by a specific organisation at a specific time.
We believe that management is absolutely essential in any organisation, but traditional manager-type roles in many organisations have evolved to manage and measure the wrong kinds of things, far away from where the work is actually being done. Instead of focusing on improving people's relationships and improving the actual work being done - which is the real difficult work that must be done.
We believe that people will organise themselves around people they respect and who respect them
We believe in remunerating people on an equal and transparent footing, and that your peers and contemporaries are the best judges of your value and contribution in the organisation at any one time. That assessment is highly contextual on what you are doing and when you are doing it, and with whom. Not something to be reviewed out of context, by someone disconnected from the actual work, weeks or months later.
We will be employing a new peer-commission based incentive scheme where good performance is recognized and appreciated by your peers and contempories. If your efforts are being recognised by your peers, and you feel like you belong, then you are not only going to perform better and be more satisfied in the that workplace community, but you are more likely to continue to have more impact in the company, and with its customers. This company will be recognising that growing contribution in your remuneration package.
Everyone, at the same competence level gets paid the same salary! and everyone knows what that is.
We believe that when people have their own skin in the game, that they seek more care, responsibility and even welcome accountability for their actions, and so we aim to delegate not just responsibility but also decision making to everyone at all levels in the organisation. We believe people will be drawn to other people that they respect and that respect them, and that that is the key to great leadership and followship in an organisation.
All full-time employees will own a share in the company