Mytech Culture Experience April 2014

This month, we present a meditation on the Mytech value of “Innovate through Creativity.” We will look at this value by taking a quick tour of Mytech’s collective creative impulse, as reflected in the cubes and offices of our staff.

Before we embark on our tour, let’s pause a moment and acknowledge one thing: “innovate” is one of the oldest, most revered catch phrases and rallying cries in our industry. A technology company, like Mytech, that cannot look itself in the mirror and honestly say “we innovate” will not be in business very long. Here at Mytech, we take innovation seriously. Not only is innovation in our list of values, but the mechanism that leads us to innovate – creativity – is also included.

“Living creatively is really important to maintain throughout your life. And living creatively doesn't mean only artistic creativity, although that's part of it. It means being yourself, not just complying with the wishes of other people.”
- Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons

The logical progression is clear to us: creativity begets innovation. Our cubes and offices reflect the creativity of our personalities. We’ll begin our tour at the back of the office. Sara Loberg has a big comfy bean bag chair. Jerel Howland has a faux electric fireplace and mantel topped with a wide screen monitor (for training) and a set of modern chairs. The NOC engineers work in carefully dimmed lighting, surrounded by equipment in various states of repair. Look carefully and you will find stacks of James Motz’s board games or one of Jeff Funk’s radio controlled cars.

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
- Walt Disney

Walking through our main office space, you will find a big smiley face balloon hovering over Abby Minors cube. Glancing in the door of Philip Hult’s office, you can see his old Mac 512k. Susan Davis has posted photos of her life in Africa, Jennie Albert of her daughter Sara. Ashlee Stewart’s cube is strangely empty, but she is new. Mae Sheryak’s office is a study in art and comfort, quiet with sumptuous area carpets and gentle lighting. Next, we come to the Help Desk and the Depot cube city. This is a land inhabited by Nerf gun darts, radio controlled helicopters, and unique displays like Alex Johnson’s shrine to Taylor Swift or Robin Steger’s handcrafted bling.

"Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity."
- Chuck Jones, Warner Bros. Animator

Techs at Mytech spend a fair amount of time – some would say an unhealthy amount of time – worrying about what could go wrong with our customer’s systems and what they can do to prevent such scenarios. This obsession – somewhat indirectly - has spilled over into the décor of the cubes: Micah Linehan and Cory MacDonald followed Jerel’s lead and have erected standing workstations. There are a fair number of studies out that suggest that standing workstations are very beneficial to personal health. Sitting has even been described as “the new smoking.” Concerned, and unable to duplicate the custom desk Jerel set up for his standing workstation, Micah and Cory went online and found a low-cost, highly effective way to set their cubes up so that they could stand while they work. Their reaction is no different from what we do for our customers: perceive a problem, evaluate the severity, and - if the possible outcome is scary enough - then move aggressively to remediate.

The final stop of our tour is the Depot, where we meet Mike Mensen. If you are familiar with the book “Make a Difference” by Dr. Larry Little, it would not surprise you that Mike’s personality tests strong as a Leading Lion. When chatting with Mike it is difficult to shed that vague sense that you are chatting with your direct supervisor. When entering the Depot, a Bose radio playing hard rock and fluorescent lighting set the tone. Various tools and computer parts are spread out across the table tops. This is a place where innovation is necessary on a daily basis.

Mike has endured a significant amount of turnover and change in the Depot. Historically, much of the knowledge around configuring workstations for our customers was “tribal.” There was typically one engineer that knew what a company needed and could tell you how to configure their workstations. However, as Mytech has grown and has acquired other companies, this was not scalable. The Depot, with Mike at the helm, has been tasked with documenting all of the steps necessary to set-up computers for each of our customers. Needless to say, it is a monumental undertaking. We are lucky to have people with skills like Mike’s – people that use creativity on a regular basis to solve problems and find solutions, innovating in ways that constantly improve upon what we do here at Mytech.