Create more value than you capture.
Tim O’Reilly wrote that sentence in a blog post about the philosophy of economic ecosystems. His editorial was based on a simple fact you may not remember from your biology classes: Ecosystems that consume more than they create destroy themselves. Ecosystems that consume less will flourish. Some terrifying examples of failing ecosystems include the recent US mortgage crisis and the dot-com bubble bursting a decade ago.
These days, most publicly traded corporations are after the last dollar — not sustaining the economy. Management is liable to shareholders if they pass up revenue opportunities, in which case our laws make it easier for investors to sue for damages. But there are many examples of companies giving a lot back and remaining profitable: from Google with its free services to companies like Red Hat that release open source software. These community leaders ensure that technology as an industry, is positioned to survive and thrive.
Tim also runs his successful company, O’Reilly Media, using this philosophy of sustainability. And we all benefit. The authors of the company’s top-notch books are treated well, and Tim contributes by putting on conferences like OSCON and participating in many different areas of the tech community as a leader, speaker and deep thinker. New Relic is doing the same thing by offering functional free accounts to anyone, sponsoring community events (such as Greenlight for Girls and BarCamp Portland,) and conferences (like OSCON and Open Source Bridge,) and encouraging employees to work on free software, even on company time.
Burned out employees hurt the entire tech industry. So New Relic pursues best practices in HR to keep our employees happy and functional. We limit ourselves to a 40-hour work week, have an open door policy in management, foster a sense of teamwork across all departments, and constantly encourage our employees to learn, grow and share new ideas within the company. We celebrate as a team, usually eat lunch together, and frequently go in groups to local Meetups and even remote conferences. This camaraderie leads to increased job satisfaction, better code accountability, and more energy to give back outside of the office.
New Relic is proud to be a sustaining part of our communities — both tech and local. And that’s what makes us a great place to work (and hey, we’re hiring!). What are you and your company doing to sustain our ecosystem? Share your ideas in the comments, mash up some of ours and let’s grow together!