Create Virtuous Cycles within Startup Teams

Create Virtuous Cycles within Startup Teams

One thing that I’ve seen in Simple Energy’s culture over the last 6 months that is very exciting to me is watching firsthand the virtuous cycles that happen in enthusiastic teams.

If I try to decompose the contributing factors to this, based upon my experience at Simple Energy, into their own discrete tenets, I think it would look like this:


  • Have fun together.
  • Values must be shared across the entire organization.
  • Set your people up for success.
  • Optimize for Work/Life integration, not Work/Life Balance.
  • The real culture of your team evolves in hallways, at social events, and in individual interactions; not in meetings.

Hiring and Firing

  • Grow the whole person.
  • Hire people smarter than you.
  • Diversity is important.
  • Raw gumption, talent, and positive attitude is the foundation of a great team member.
  • If a team member is becoming cancerous, act.
  • Great Engineers can choose where they work; Cultivate a place they’d want to work.


  • Process, architecture, and design should be as simple and explainable as possible.
  • People don’t follow rote instructions.  Instead, embrace creativity and diversity and direct the chaos productively.
  • Engineering productivity is hard to measure quantitatively.
  • Let teams evolve systems and processes that make sense for them; and hold them accountable for their end results.
  • Agile philosophy is best championed as a tool to manage the fundamental facts of Software Engineering: people, complexity, reliability, requirements & design.


  • Be mindful of your own biases.
  • Get out from in front of your laptop.
  • People are people, not resources.
  • Pull your own weight.
  • Situational awareness takes time to build, and is worth cultivating.

Hat tip Llew Powers for creating many virtuous cycles of enthusiasm at Simple Energy, and thus for seeding the idea for this post in my brain!

Did I miss anything?  Do you disagree with a tenant?  Reach out on twitter.

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