Digital Culture

This week on The Boagworld Web Show we look at creating a digitally friendly culture – including the top 10 characteristics of a digital company and what digital workers look for in an employer.

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Paul Boag:
This week on the Boagworld web show we look at creating a digital friendly culture, including the top 10 characteristics of a digital company and what digital workers look for in an employer.

Paul Boag:
Hello and welcome to Boagworld.com, the podcast for all those involved in designing, developing and running websites on a daily basis. My name is Paul Boag: and I am being joined today by Marcus Lillington:.

Marcus Lillington:
Hello, Paul, how are you?

Paul Boag:
Very well. No, I’m not very well. I’m frustrated, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, no.

Paul Boag:
I’m trying to branch out and it’s not working.

Marcus Lillington:
What – into what?

Paul Boag:
Well, I just thought I would have a play with, you know these blog posts I write, that I record them as audio as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag:
And I thought I know, I could do them in video. Video is hard.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
It’s really difficult to do because it’s like oh, the lighting looks shit, the camera looks shit and the – you make a mistake and it’s harder to edit and then if you do – if you read it, you look like you’re reading. No matter, your eyeline isn’t right. It’s just…

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, lighting is really one of those things. If you ever hire a video company or anything, they always come in with those big silvery things and…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
…professional looking lights.

Paul Boag:
I’m just shit at it basically. It’s not working for me, I give up.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
I’m not made for video.

Marcus Lillington:
You tried it, you’re made for radio.

Paul Boag:
I’m made for radio. There was this big thing recently about how audio doesn’t get shared and video gets shared, you see?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
And it is true. I mean if I look at the videos on my YouTube channel, some of the videos I get more viewage, if that’s the word…

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
…or whatever it is. Than actually, my – the podcast does.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I suppose it’s sort of easier to share or… I don’t know is it? I think that it’s probably no different to share but people – yeah, people just do share video but then… people share songs. But I guess maybe not podcast type thing.

Paul Boag:
Perhaps we need to sing in the podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
Sorry, say that again, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I said perhaps we need to sing in the podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
Or perhaps not. Maybe that’s why – you cut out. It was such a bad idea you cut out while you were saying it.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that’s the way things are.

Marcus Lillington:
Did you see the news this morning about 37signals?

Paul Boag:
No. On the news news?

Marcus Lillington:
No, no. Somebody tweeted it. And basically it’s their, I don’t know, 15th year as a company and the 10th year anniversary of Basecamp and they have decided to drop all of their products apart from Basecamp and change their name to Basecamp. Brave, but I think a really good idea. I mean they are not going to just dump Highrise and things like that, but they are not going to continue to sort of add to it and make it better. But they are hoping that they will be able to sell it on to somebody. But, yes, interesting. They want to stay small-ish, I think there are 40-odd people. And they want to basically focus on the thing that’s everybody loves that they do.

Paul Boag:
That’s very interesting. I wonder whether the others haven’t worked quite as well for them.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I mean in terms of income, no, although they said it’s – the note said that they are looking for – they are expecting to sell Campfire for in the region of single millions and Highrise for tens of millions. So it’s not as if they haven’t been successful with their other products but it makes you realize how successful Basecamp’s been.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Well, that’s scary. Well a hell of a lot of people use Basecamp, don’t they?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
I’ve got to say I wasn’t as impressed with their others. I mean Campfire, there are better chat applications out there. I mean we use, I’ve forgotten what’s it called?

Marcus Lillington:
Slack.

Paul Boag:
Slack, that’s it. It is much nicer than Campfire, and in terms of CRMs there, Highrise, I have started using something called Nimble

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
…that’s linked in the show notes, which is really very, very good. You just get the feeling that they haven’t put quite as much effort into those other products. Their heart’s not in them in the same way it is with Basecamp.

Marcus Lillington:
But I always had issues with Basecamp. Don’t get me wrong, I like Basecamp, I use it all the time, but it has issues, so I’m kind of pleased that they are going to further Basecamp and make Basecamp better. So…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, hopefully, that’ll work – putting all their efforts in one basket, so to speak, should work well for them. Because – yeah, I can understand them not wanting to grow either. We’ve talked about this before. I mean even 40 feels too much to me.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, a scary amount of people but, yeah.

Paul Boag:
Interesting. So you knew something I didn’t? That’s because I have been wasting my morning faffing around with video. Stupid video.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, while I was reading Twitter.

Paul Boag:
Yes, which is much more useful apparently. There you go. So there you go, there will not be lots of video from me because I can’t be arsed and it’s too much work. Also, I have got an enormous spot on the middle of my head at the moment which is kind of…

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I guess, you have to use makeup as well. If you’re going to do it properly.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Can you really see me doing that?

Marcus Lillington:
Well, if you’re going to do it properly, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Well, that’s the trouble. I don’t do anything properly, do I? Well the thing what you’ve got to do with these kinds of things is you’ve got to weigh it against return on investment. Yeah, you know you could do it properly and you could get lights and all the rest of it. But if you don’t – if you’re not getting enough back from it to justify it, it’s difficult, really difficult.

Marcus Lillington:
And anyway, even if you were good at it, this is probably going to be the last podcast ever anyway because England is about to wash into the sea.

Paul Boag:
It is getting pretty close to that. I’ve just noticed my leak has started again in my office now, so I’ve got a little bucket catching leaks. Although it’s not actually raining which is really weird.

Marcus Lillington:
It is here.

Paul Boag:
Is it…

Marcus Lillington:
Hugely and it’s been really windy all morning. I am just waiting for the power to go out.

Paul Boag:
It’s massively windy.

Marcus Lillington:
But – yeah.

Paul Boag:
So, yes. But we don’t – why don’t we get snow? I want to be snowed in.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, we do get snow. We just haven’t this winter, we’ve just got a year’s worth of rain in six weeks.

Paul Boag:
Well, not the end of the world.

Marcus Lillington:
It might be.

Paul Boag:
I don’t go outside anyway.

Marcus Lillington:
No, you have to live upstairs. You can do that.

Paul Boag:
No, I live halfway up a hill. Although bizarrely according to the surveys, the house surveys, I’m in a flood region because I am within half a mile of somewhere that floods. It’s just half a mile straight up a hill.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I am about 100 yards from the river but…

Paul Boag:
Nice knowing you, Marcus. Leigh will have to be my co-host from now on.

Marcus Lillington:
He is even nearer to a bigger river, I believe.

Paul Boag:
Oh, is he? I’ve never been to his place.

Marcus Lillington:
Neither have I but I am pretty sure he is near a river.

Paul Boag:
For some reason I had it in my head he lived in a hobbit hole.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I know he is near a river because he goes and canoes on it and things…

Paul Boag:
Oh, I didn’t know it was near, I thought he kind of got in a car and…

Marcus Lillington:
No, no, I don’t think so. I am making this up, obviously.

Paul Boag:
This must be really boring for people, mustn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Leigh comes along every now and then as that little rain of sunshine. I am sure they do want to hear.

Paul Boag:
I like it when Leigh is on the show, it gives us an oomph, because we lack oomph normally.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, we’re just rambling now as normal.

Paul Boag:
Right. So what are we going to talk about this week? Why am I asking you, you don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
I haven’t got a clue.

Paul Boag:
Right. Where’s the notes? Here we go. We are talking about digital culture this week, actually it’s a good one, it’s a good show. You’re going to enjoy it.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
You’ll really enjoy it and we’re going to kick off by looking at what makes a digitally friendly company? So let’s dive on into that one then.

10 characteristics of a digitally friendly company

Why is it that some companies embrace and succeed in digital, while others fail?

Share your thoughts

Paul Boag:
So I think when it comes to digital, most companies suck. That’s my professional opinion. As stated here on the show.

Marcus Lillington:
And why, Paul?

Paul Boag:
Because I say so, what do you want? You want an explanation? I just think it’s really interesting how some companies kind of embrace and succeed in digital when others fail. I am kind of becoming convinced that the failure of digital strategies often has little to do with the competence of the web team and more to do with the culture of the organization itself, if that make sense. You know what I mean?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. What do you mean by being good at digital? Give us some background.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, just – the trouble is that’s quite a nebulous thing, isn’t it? And there are things some companies just kind of get and understand digital and create an environment where it can kind of flourish and they become digital first and they have – this digital strategy that they pursue and it kind of works for them. And then there are other companies where it feels like rolling a giant boulder up a hill.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, just not giving it enough priority, I guess, or not taking it seriously enough.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I don’t even know whether it’s that. I think it’s more kind of cultural, that there are certain characteristics of a company where digital can flourish. And even if a company, I think, you know – even some companies that say, yes, we think digital is really important, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will succeed. So I was trying to think – I was kind of going through because when I was writing digital adaptation link in the show notes by my book. I was interviewing quite a lot of successful digital companies and looking at what different characteristics they had. And I have come up with 10 because…

Marcus Lillington:
Because you write lists of 10 things.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, you can’t have seven, that feels wrong. I could have had five.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Well, but we’d be left wanting more. 10 is just ideal.

Paul Boag:
Is it? What about 11? Would that disturb you?

Marcus Lillington:
A little bit.

Paul Boag:
That upsets my OCD nature if you have 11.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. On that subject, I have to keep going back into our meeting room when I am in the office, and make all the chairs straight.

Paul Boag:
Really? Bless.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s OCD isn’t it.

Paul Boag:
That is not just me. I saw I was the only one in Headscape that had that kind of weird idea.

Marcus Lillington:
I think that most people have got it. Certainly most males anyway, not wanting to be chauvinistic about it but it seems to be a kind of male trait. I remember my son when he was little had to have his socks the same height all the time and would…

Paul Boag:
Really?

Marcus Lillington:
…would just stop in the street just to make his socks the right height.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But my daughter never did that, so that’s the end of my research on the matter.

Paul Boag:
Yes. On that, you have now extrapolated for the entire human race. I love it.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly and it won’t be the last time.

Paul Boag:
No, absolutely. Right. Innovation, I think, is one of the first factors. Digitally friendly companies are innovators, they embrace experimentation and I think actively seek out new opportunities. And I think this is quite an interesting one, this idea of being an innovator because I think younger companies are better innovators which is why a lot of the modern digital companies are innovators and get digital more than more traditional companies. And I’ll tell you why. I think it’s because young companies are keen to capture market share, and more established companies are less likely to risk their current position by pushing into new areas. They are more risk-averse which is quite interesting.

So I think that’s why the older a company gets, the less likely it is to innovate. I don’t know whether I can justify that comment because I am thinking about Apple.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I mean I suppose there are exceptions to the rule but you could argue what Basecamp have done as we were speaking about earlier is exactly what you just described. They have spent 10 years innovating and they’ve gone “well hang on a minute, let’s just work with that thing that’s really good that we did.” I don’t necessarily think that there is anything that wrong with, if you find a really kind of magical thing or solution or whatever, and it’s what you do really well and you keep coming back to it. I mean to a certain extent we’ve tried to innovate over the years with various experiments, some things have worked, some things haven’t. But we haven’t changed what we do radically since day one. We…

Paul Boag:
No. But I think the way we do it has changed radically.

Marcus Lillington:
Our approach, yes, that’s true.

Paul Boag:
I think that’s the danger if you are in a company that doesn’t innovate when you are talking about embracing digital. I think the danger there is that change happens so fast and is so kind of baked into the digital world that you can’t continue to do things in the same way forever. And I think that’s why some companies fail when it comes to digital because they can’t adapt to that kind of change and they are not innovating along with it. I think there’s a kind of another point that kind of sits alongside this, which is being unafraid to make mistakes. I think there is often a fear of making mistakes in more well established companies and there is a lot of kind of “ass covering,” that I think can be dangerous.

What this – one company I absolutely love is Valve the games people, that do Steam and Half-Life and all of that. Let me read you a bit from their employee handbook, you’ll like this. “Nobody has ever been fired at Valve for making a mistake. It wouldn’t make sense for us to operate that way. Providing the freedom to fail is an important trait of the company. We couldn’t expect so much from individuals if we also penalized people for errors. Even expensive mistakes or ones that result in a very public failure are genuinely looked on as opportunity to learn.”

And then they go on to say, “screwing up is a great way to find out that your assumptions are wrong or that your model of the world is a little bit off. As long as you update your model and move forward with a better picture, you’re doing it right.” I love that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly. It depends what you mean by screw up, doesn’t it? If you mean screw up, as in we put lots of effort and budget into this wacky project and it didn’t work out, then that’s fine. If screw up means everybody was just mucking about all the time and no one did anything…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But, yeah.

Paul Boag:
I mean I think they are referring to trying new things, aren’t they, and experimenting.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. I mean the older company not wanting to do that is absolutely right. Well I mean there’s the “you never get fired for hiring IBM type of…” The saying, that goes… I mean that’s just basically ass covering and it’s not taking risks. That’s this whole point. The whole second point here is about being risk-averse.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
And, yes, if you don’t take risks, then chances are you will stagnate eventually. Especially if there’s this new thing, digital that we’re talking about here, out there, that more and more of your competitors are taking on board and making work for them.

Paul Boag:
And I don’t think it’s even – it’s not “you need to update once to accommodate the digital world,” I think it’s the fact that this kind of digital economy we exist in is moving and changing all of the time and so you have to experiment, you have to take risks. Otherwise, it’s like paddling in a river, you can’t stop paddling and if you stop paddling, you’re not going to stay still, you’re going to be getting swept downstream and that’s what digital is like, in my view. You know, the moment you stop innovating, the moment you stop experimenting, you’re going to get swept downstream.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. You can probably make comparisons with mechanization. The first people to mechanize a process would have been moving ahead of – or embraced mechanization, as we say. They would have moved ahead of their competitors that didn’t and then taking on the next step up in mechanized relations, so robots or whatever. I’m making this up obviously, but yeah, you have to take risks, you have to try things out, otherwise you’re going to end up, yeah, going backwards.

Paul Boag:
The next one is an iterative mentality. I think traditional companies prefer kind of fixed price projects with finite timescales, because they are easier in their minds to manage and they carry less risk. Although this thing about them carrying less risk is absolutely bullshit basically, because so many large finite web projects have failed. And the biggest one recently is healthcare.gov. And that was fascinating if you look at that, because that went out to tender as a project but because it was so big and it was being looked at as this kind of fixed finite project only really massive organizations were able to tender for it. And they just don’t have the culture to deliver something like this. It should have been treated more like gov.uk in this kind of iterative manner, but instead it was treated as this enormous IT project and so inevitably ran over budget and didn’t work.

And I think that’s a big thing with… I look at, what, let’s go back to 37signals again, they are constantly iterating and improving Basecamp. It’s not “we’ve built it, now we’re done.” And I think it is so hard getting that through to some people, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, it comes down to personalities. The kind of hierarchical structures within many organizations where you’ve got to fight for budget, and the people who are making decisions about budget haven’t really got – they are not well-informed enough about why you are doing something and the people who are looking for the budget can’t – don’t have the time or the ear of the people who they need to get it. So I think it’s – I think we’ve mentioned this in one of the previous shows but it’s about getting senior management on board as well.

Paul Boag:
Next one I’ve got up is flexibility. I think many older companies get set in their ways, which we’ve kind of said already. Sometimes that’s officially done through things like standard operating procedures. But other times it can be just kind of cultural norms. And whenever we talk about flexibility, it always makes me think of Dr. Leroy Hood’s excellent quote which is “Bureaucracies are honed by the past and almost never deal effectively with the future.” If you just replace the word bureaucracies with companies, you get the same thing. And it’s so true, isn’t it, that you kind of built up this “well this is the way we do things here.”

It happens so much, even in web teams where you go in and you say, oh, why don’t we try this? No, we don’t do it that way, we do it this way. Well, why don’t we try something different? Well, no, that’s the way we’ve always done it. Or alternatively, the other one that always goes with that is, oh, no, we tried that before and it didn’t work. Yes, but things were different then.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, or different people were trying to make it happen.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
It comes down to people, I think, adding to on to my previous comment. If you’ve got enough people understanding what you’re trying to do, and have the clout to do it, then you stand a far better chance. And also going back to one of the earlier points about not worrying overly about “I don’t want to be seen to be making a mistake.” That’s really important.

Paul Boag:
Another worry I think where people can be a huge issue is in kind of departmental structures and feuds, and different departments not working together. One of the things when I was always talking to these different kind of digitally orientated companies is how collaborative and cross-departmental they are, they tend to have a lot of working groups that move, and people move around. I mean like MailChimp, for example, the CEO regularly just randomly re-arranges the office, so you don’t kind of get stuck constantly with the same people. And it’s a big open plan office and everybody talks to one another, and that’s kind of in contrast to some of these more traditional businesses where sales is in one office and production is in another and it’s all spread all over the place. And I think that makes kind of cooperation and collaboration really difficult, and they’re so important with digital because it kind of affects everybody across the whole organization, doesn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. I mean we’ve been kind of fighting against that for years just with information architecture development. Because you’ll often walk into an organization where the accountants – the accountancy team look after this section of the site, sales look after that section of the site, and we go in and make a load of recommendations about “you need to – the structure of the site needs to change,” where this part of the sales site needs to be mixed in with this part of the finance site or whatever. And everyone goes, yeah, brilliant idea and then when it comes to looking after it, nobody knows what – who is supposed to be looking after it because they can’t break out of these silos.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. It just – gets up my nose. I also – I’m always – another thing that really frustrates me with a lot of companies is how undervalue – how much they undervalue their kind of digital workers and how often people are… I think it’s kind of leftover from the kind of factory line mentality where all your workers were kind of low-skilled, unmotivated low paid individuals that needed managers constantly monitoring them and micro-managing their performance and enforcing this kind of rigid hierarchical structure where people did what they were told. And it’s like, I think we get that wrong and we kind of, so often we manage web teams like that as well where really, there is a web professional that’s highly skilled, more skilled than you are, as their manager, highly motivated, well-paid and that actually we just kind of need to empower them to get on with it.

In fact, they don’t really need managing in the traditional sense. I was recently speaking at a digital project management conference and the impression you’ve got is that there is a real shift in project management that it’s not really now about managing people so much as leading them or supporting them. And so I really think more, a lot of companies don’t get that. They don’t get that they’ve got highly competent, highly skilled individuals and they just need to set them free. So that was another thing on my list. And also a kind of follow-on to that is to invest in them as well. I can’t believe how many organizations hire digital staff to run their websites because they are highly skilled and they know about the web, and they don’t invest in them at all.

And so, of course, their skills quickly atrophy and become out of date, and who is it? I won’t name any names but when I went up to this project management conference I mentioned in Manchester, and I met up with an old colleague that used to work with us at Headscape and has moved to another agency. And he lives and works in Manchester and he had gone to his boss and asked his boss if he could go to the conference because a couple of colleagues were there. This is a conference that cost about £30 in Manchester and his boss said, no. And you just think, what?!

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. I think it’s an even bigger problem in organizations that have a web team to look after one site or a site with sub-sites who probably don’t pay that great. Why would you, highly skilled web developer, want to go and work somewhere where you’re not getting paid that much and you’re not going to be invested in for training purposes and that kind of thing. So, yeah, it’s a – that’s a common problem, we come up against that. And obviously it’s not the fault of the organization, often organizations don’t have a great deal of money but they still want to have really good people to build, it’s kind of… that is a – quite sad case, that’s a case of not having enough budget to do digital properly.

Paul Boag:
But it – I don’t think it’s just really about budget, I think it’s about time primarily. It’s about giving people the space to experiment, to play, to try out new things. I am not going to go through this whole list because there’s quite a few more. But there is one more I want to mention. You can go and read the blogpost because there will be a link in the show notes to the blogpost. But there is one more I want to mention which is this kind of service customer-focused mentality that I think is lacking from a lot of companies, right? So I can name, when we go, we go to pitch, right? This is going somewhere. When we go to pitch to a lot of companies, you inevitably end up sitting in their reception areas, don’t you?

Marcus Lillington:
You do.

Paul Boag:
And when you look around the room, there is almost always brochures that say what the company does and who they are, and there are photographs on the wall, they are almost always of their big shiny offices somewhere or there are awards in a cabinet that they have won the ‘something excellence award’ and all this kind of stuff. And the whole place screams what a great world, wonderful world, amazing.

But what’s really struck me, kind of going around and talking to and looking around kind of digital companies is they are not like that, right? You walk around MailChimp, for example, and the posters on their walls are of the personas of their users. And I just think that’s in such stark contrast and it could – one of them is kind of focusing on the customer and the other is focusing on how great we are. And I think that’s almost like a metaphor for a lot of companies’ thinking, they get so hung up on – it’s about us, we’re great, we’re wonderful, this is what we have done rather than serving the users, serving the customer. And it’s quite interesting that the web is forcing a real shift in this area. You know a lot of companies now are taking on chief customer service officers that sit on the board, and their job is just to ensure a great end-to-end customer experience. I think that’s such a great idea and I think more companies to do that. So there you go…

Marcus Lillington:
For a really – you could do that for a really big company, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I’d love to do that. Absolutely. And also the other thing I like about that is that then makes sense, right? Because what you can do is you can have your digital team reporting into your chief customer service officer or customer experience officer or whatever you want to call him, and their marketing would also report into him. But it means that digital wouldn’t be reporting straight into marketing, so its remit would expand and I think that’s a really good old way of organizing it. I like it.

Marcus Lillington:
Make it happen.

Paul Boag:
Make it happen, yes. So there you go. There are others in there about being digital by default and being fast-moving and other stuff. So check out the post because we cover other stuff. But let’s move on to look at what do you look for in an employer, because this turned into a really interesting conversation.

What do you look for in an employer?

Attracting and retaining good web staff is crucial for a successful digital strategy. What then do web professionals look for in a potential employer?

Share your thoughts

Paul Boag:
The second area we want to look at is this area of what…

Marcus Lillington:
Can I just say something?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, go on.

Marcus Lillington:
Because we’ve just had my amazing music, lots of people like music.

Paul Boag:
I know they do. I’m impressed actually.

Marcus Lillington:
I might even bother to get some of the bits that are out of time in time again, because it was driving me mad recording that. So, but, yes, maybe some time in the nearish future.

But I just had to get that in, thank you people.

Paul Boag:
Can I say you’re sounding very subdued today, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Subdued?

Paul Boag:
Yes, you’re quietly spoken and I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just you’re quiet in my ear. I’m missing doing it face-to-face. Next week, we’re going to do it face-to-face, and Leigh is going to be there as well, is he?

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, even better.

Paul Boag:
So, I’m going to come in next week.

Marcus Lillington:
Cool.

Paul Boag:
Perhaps it’s just, perhaps you’re just quiet in my ear but you sound really kind of, you know kind of mellow, Radio 4.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I guess, I’m feeling kind of like that. I’m alright, I’m fine.

Paul Boag:
Have I woken up from a little nap or something?

Marcus Lillington:
No, no naps.

Paul Boag:
Okay. You’ve got to be all dynamic soon, we’ve got a big conference call soon where you have to be like “rah!”

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah, it’s I’m going to – I’m looking it, I mean, yes, there is some presentation elements of it but I’m, it’s a discussion.

Paul Boag:
It’s a discussion. It’s going to be a Radio 4 discussion. There we go. Desert Island Discs.

Marcus Lillington:
The hard thing about it is a conference call with about 12 people.

Paul Boag:
I know. Far too many people on a conference call. And I just every time we have a conference call like that, I mentally add up how much it costs per minute for all of those people to – the salary of all those people just does your head in. No meeting should ever get that big, but anyway.

Marcus Lillington:
Move on, move on.

Paul Boag:
So, yes, what do we look for in an employer? I wrote a quick post and we’ve talked about the kind of recruitment crisis before and I will put a link in the show notes to that if you haven’t read it. But I wanted to see what people say, what they came back with because I think hiring and retaining good digital staff is going to become such a big thing for a lot of companies. And I don’t think most employers have got it right, in terms of what you have to offer to attract and retain good digital staff. So I put up a blogpost that literally just asked people what they look for, alright?

Marcus Lillington:
Company car?

Paul Boag:
Sorry?

Marcus Lillington:
Company car.

Paul Boag:
Company car wasn’t mentioned once.

Marcus Lillington:
Canteen.

Paul Boag:
No, sorry. You’ve got all the wrong things.

Marcus Lillington:
Pension.

Paul Boag:
Pension, no, nobody mentioned pension.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m trying to think of things that people won’t mention.

Paul Boag:
Traditional things.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Pension, company car, no, none of that.

Marcus Lillington:
Huge salary.

Paul Boag:
Huge salary. Salary was mentioned but it wasn’t the primary motivator. What – no, I think it probably was quite high, truth be told. But so that’s a part of it. But let’s go through some of them. Just, if you are out there and running a digital team or you’re thinking about a digital team, you need to pay attention to this. This is important. If, on the other hand, you are a member of a digital team, this is your opportunity to go to your boss to say listen to this bit. Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
Do we do all these things, Paul?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know. I am nervous.

Marcus Lillington:
This could be interesting.

Paul Boag:
Let’s see. So we start with Steve Day who said, for me, it’s a chance to be able to work on projects you will be proud of. Hopefully, that’s what an employer is looking for too. That’s a really difficult one, isn’t it? Because we struggle with this all the time.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Because what comes through the door comes through the door, and obviously all the designers want to work on movies and on record label sites or things like that. And we work on boring ass sites.

Marcus Lillington:
No, we don’t. Anyway I don’t – I think as long as what you’re working on isn’t kind of morally concerning, then you can do a good job and be proud of it more or less whatever it is.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. I think it’s a bit more than that. There are some things that are sexier to work on from a designer’s point of view than others. I do see what you’re saying. But having good source material to work for, like, working on heritage websites: National Trust and areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks. It’s good – you’ve got good material to work with, you can make it look good.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I mean Chelsea Pensioners recently is a good example of it.

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely. And what is it, Ed’s been getting all of those, the good projects from that point of views.

Marcus Lillington:
Norfolk Broads he’s been working on as well.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. So, link in the show notes to Chelsea Pensioners, Norfolk Broads isn’t out yet, is it?

Marcus Lillington:
Not yet, no.

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
I think it will be soon, but not quite yet.

Paul Boag:
I’ll try to remember to put a screen shot in the show notes of that one because again, beautiful imagery to work with, and that kind of really helps. So finding good work that you can be proud of. Yeah, I agree with that. Sorry. Han Dill, that’s such a good name.

Marcus Lillington:
Surely, he is Dan Hill.

Paul Boag:
I’ve just got it wrong do you reckon, have I had some dyslexic moment.

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe.

Paul Boag:
It does look like it should be. He’s going to be Han Dill now. He says, vision and mission I can stand behind. The work has to have a deeper purpose than just money. Now, that’s really interesting because I was talking with Rob Borley about this one who runs Dootrix, link in the show notes to Rob Borley or Dootrix or one of the other. And they’ve got a very much kind of cultural ethos of what their company represents and stands for and they give away a big chunk of their money to charity and they have certain kind of attitudes towards how they manage and work with staff. So I do think that does help and even if it’s Headscape, ours is always – it’s a lifestyle business, isn’t? That’s our mantra.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, absolutely.

Paul Boag:
So the – enjoying life is more important than making money. I think that’s really good. So I think, yes, having some purpose to what you do is good. Recently, we were up against in a tendering process a company that specialized in not-for-profit websites, working for charities and stuff like that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag:
And again, I was quite envious of them really. I thought that’s really cool. I’d like to work somewhere like that. So I can understand the appeal of that, absolutely. I mean you won’t understand it, Marcus, because you’re just a money-grabbing salesman.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I am not.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
I am the biggest hippy in the company.

Paul Boag:
You reckon you’re the biggest hippy in the company?

Marcus Lillington:
By miles.

Paul Boag:
No. You’re one step away from Jeremy Clarkson. Anyway, next up…

Marcus Lillington:
Okay, yes, next.

Paul Boag:
How would say that name, JB Soo?

Marcus Lillington:
I think it’s Jay Basoo.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it’s a Twitter ID. So he said, being willing to stand up for your employees when clients are being unreasonable is a big plus. I think that’s a really good one as well. Project managers who just roll over the minute a client asks for anything. That’s not good. Pete, I’m talking to you.

Marcus Lillington:
Knowing he doesn’t listen.

Paul Boag:
No. But…

Marcus Lillington:
I mean that’s a – it’s a tricky one. That is a really tricky one. You’ve got to play those situations correctly. Of course if you’re doing – if your design processes are right then you will be explaining why you’ve made a bunch of decisions in the first place. So then, if somebody comes back with a change that you don’t necessarily agree with, it’s hopefully because they feel more strongly about it than if you’d just gone “here’s your design, it’s great, isn’t it?” So you have to weigh up the situation, and you also have to weigh up the personality of, yeah, the personality of the person that’s making those changes because sometimes, it’s just not worth it to argue.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, oh, no.

Marcus Lillington:
…being extremely honest here.

Paul Boag:
The other kind of flip side to that, which isn’t a problem I don’t think we have. Which is salesmen that over-promise.

Marcus Lillington:
That – I have never done in my life!

Paul Boag:
No. You joke – but I don’t think we do do that very often.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I know, we don’t over promise. What we sometimes do is when if you know a budget then, we go well… if all of – if everything sort of lands the right way up then we can do it for that budget. So we go for it and then it’s pretty rare that that happens. But that’s not really the same thing as over promising.

Paul Boag:
So Gareth says, which we’ve already touched on, the kind of work that you do, that he doesn’t want to get bored or have his ethics compromised, which is a good one.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, we talked about it. I think we had a whole show on it…

Paul Boag:
We did do actually.

Marcus Lillington:
It got complicated.

Paul Boag:
It is complicated. Well, because everybody’s ethics are different.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I can remember it getting a little bit awkward on that one and like, well, we kind of just left it hanging there I think. But generally speaking, yeah. You don’t – who wants to work for a company that’s doing dodgy things?

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Well, some people don’t mind. That’s fine, I guess, whatever. Ed, on LinkedIn, we’re getting – we’re into LinkedIn at the moment, Marcus, we’ve got a LinkedIn group and a proper LinkedIn company page as well. Link in the show notes to both of those. Ed on LinkedIn says advancing on knowledge and staying relevant are big factors for many, which is what we were saying earlier, wasn’t it, about the idea that you’ve got to invest in your staff and some people do actually actively look for that. But then he goes on to write the longest list in the world, which is a great list so I am just going to read out. Do I feel that my opinions and input are valued by colleagues and customers? Agree with that. That’s a big one. Am I paid appropriately according to the value I add to the business?

Marcus Lillington:
Blimey, that’s a hard one to work out.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I think that’s a bit of a tricky one. I know what he’s getting at mind, kind of…

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I mean am I paid correctly, for want of a better word, based on my experience, where I live, et cetera, et cetera.

Paul Boag:
Do I learn something new every day? Which is this staying up-to-date. Do I have good work/life balance? Do I have a good work/life balance which is the lifestyle business we talked about.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Is my contribution appreciated? That’s a really good – important one. To have a boss that actually appreciates what you do and encourages you and verbalizes that. Do I get on with my colleagues? Is there a team spirit? Does everyone feel responsible for the company output? That’s a good one as well. I like that one. Am I proud of everything the company does and can I say with pride that I work there? I like that one a lot.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. These kind of reasons are one of the reasons or other reasons why we wanted to stay small.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Because it’s much easier to do all this if you’re 12 people, than if you are 112 people.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely. So you go. That’s a really interesting, I think culture is a massively important issue. To get the right kind of culture in your team and if possible, the organization as a whole. I think it affects what staff you get, whether you get the good people or not. It affects how well adapted you are to delivering digital solutions and that kind of stuff. So it’s a big, big thing to get right. I mean it’s something I dedicated a whole chapter in the book to because I think it’s so important. So there you go. Marcus, do you have a joke for us?

Marcus Lillington:
I do. Kenneth Francine sent me some jokes and I like this one the best. And it’s about web designers. A web designer walks into a bar but immediately leaves in disgust upon noticing the table layout.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, hilarious! Honestly. So there we go. Is that it?

Marcus Lillington:
That’s it. I am not doing it anymore. I am saving them up.

Paul Boag:
What – I have got one thing that people need to do, right? If you’re listening to this podcast now, I want you to go to your nearest computer, tablet, or iPhone. Okay, are you there?

Marcus Lillington:
Or smartphone.

Paul Boag:
Yes, sorry. I didn’t mean to exclude Android users or even Windows users. Right. Open up your browser and wait…

Marcus Lillington:
I have to do this?

Paul Boag:
Yes, you do actually. Open up a browser.

Marcus Lillington:
Yep, I am there.

Paul Boag:
Okay. Now, you’re typing into the browser window thenetawards.com/vote/podcasts. Now, the next bit is really important. Are you there yet, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
Nearly. Yep, I’m there.

Paul Boag:
Now, you will see lots of podcasts listed.

Marcus Lillington:
You just get to the first one?

Paul Boag:
No, no, no. Although actually the first one is Shoptalk which is a bloody brilliant show.

Marcus Lillington:
Not on mine: top left, Boagworld Web Design Show.

Paul Boag:
It randomly loads them.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So yes. No, well out of the list you’re only interested in the one with a cow’s bottom on it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Right. Click on that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Now, you can sign in either with Facebook, Twitter or e-mail and vote for that as the podcast of the year. Now, what’s really important is you ignore all of the others, right? That’s absolutely vital. Half of them I’ve heard of. So they don’t count. Unfinished business has got Andy Clarke presenting it and he’s got ridiculous beard, so you can’t vote for that. Happy Mondays has got Sarah Parmenter, so you can’t vote for that because she’s got an Essex accent. And Shoptalk is just too good. So you can’t vote for that one either. So the only one you can vote for is the Boagworld Web Design Show.

Marcus Lillington:
I voted for it.

Paul Boag:
Good. You are a good lad.

Marcus Lillington:
Good lad.

Paul Boag:
Good lad, well done. So there you go. Yes, check that. No, seriously, go along to the netawards.com/vote/podcast linking show notes vote for whichever podcast you think is the best but remember who loves you. Which parent do you love the most? That’s what this is. Andy is up for another category, so he shouldn’t get it. One day we need to kind of – we need to push Headscape as agency of the year.

Marcus Lillington:
We’re not even nominated.

Paul Boag:
Well, no, because I never bother pushing it. It’s my own fault. You can get yourself nominated, easy enough.

Marcus Lillington:
Bad, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I know, what can I say? Actually that wraps up this week show. Thank you very much for listening. Next week, we will back with Leigh and we will be together. So you can expect silliness and immature behavior unlike this week show which have been, I think, deeply professional for us.

Marcus Lillington:
Once a hundred.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, every now and again. Alright, thanks very much for listening. Talk to you again next week.

Marcus Lillington:
Bye.

Headscape

Boagworld