Startups move fast as they build their product. How does it feel to work in a startup? Well, the answer is:
Change! Change everywhere, all the time!
In a startup like OpenClassrooms, change happens all the time. In fact, one of our running jokes is that "Change is the only constant here". 🙃
This chapter's purpose is to give you one piece of advice: be ready to embrace change. Because it concerns everyone.
Everyone is concerned by change
We know that most companies do not have such a high rate of change. There is usually more inertia.
However, at OpenClassrooms, we've noticed that both big and small changes keep on happening... to such an extent that we don't talk about change that much, because it's just part of our everyday life.
Change happens because we live in a highly dynamic ecosystem, in which we need to try new things regularly, because technology evolves quickly.
This is everyone's concern. Whatever your role in the company is, you will probably experience a lot of change in just a few months. Here are some team examples.
The tech team is well aware that our software will be modified frequently. They say that "good software should facilitate change".
Our software is easy to change because we try to use the right code patterns and have a lot of automated tests. These are extremely useful to prevent a fear of changing codes or of breaking things.
This is also why the team works with agile principles for project management. This is extremely useful in adapting to new needs over time.
The webmarketing space is moving at an impressive rate (not just at OpenClassrooms, but as a whole). New tools appear all the time. We need to be aware of what's new to be sure we're efficient.
For example, at first we had almost no data to work with. We tried to query our databases to get some information -but that wasn't enough to make a decision (are our customers satisfied with the product? Even using it?). We started implementing Segment.com to route data, which we didn't know how to visualize at first. Then we discovered a product named Mixpanel, this helped us to visualize graphs easily.
We used this for a while, and then moved on to Amplitude, another tool which proved more efficient and detailed. From there we've now started to use Periscope, which offers more customised dashboards!
... All of this in about 12 months!
The Education team also goes through frequent changes. We try different course types (text, videos, screencasts), and new ways of creating them with different teachers. New roles have also appeared over time: "Hey, we need someone specialized in the certification process!" or "There are more mentors everyday, who's going to listen to them and help them?"
For example, let's look at the way we work with teachers. In the beginning, content was mostly created by a community of visitors, with a validation process. However, as we grew, we needed more consistency in our courses and people started asking for more video courses. Our initial authors, scattered around the world, just weren't equipped to build them.
We started collaborating with school teachers to build new courses, but it proved too lengthy to train them. They sometimes had different agendas too. We finally decided that it would be more efficient to build most of our courses internally by hiring and training teachers when we could.
That's a lot of change and that's just one example for the Education team!
The sales team, for instance, started by selling advertisements to schools and paper books to bookstores. Then they had job offers to sell on our (ephemeral) job board, then MOOC creation for companies, and now full learning paths that lead to a State-endorsed degree. One person went through all these changes (and is still here!)
People who have had different roles over time
Let's be more concrete to show you how some people's missions have changed!
Pedro: from selling ads to selling learning paths
Pedro started selling ads on OpenClassrooms' website several years ago. At this time, most of our revenue was generated through ads.
We also tried other sources of revenue, like selling space on our job board or in our schools' directory. The former was a flop, while the latter was a great success.
Over time, we decided to move away from the sale of ad space and went through a major business model change: we decided to remove all ads within a year and start selling course creation to schools and companies.
Can you imagine: coming to a company to sell ads and having to learn everything about course creation in order to sell courses and then complete training? Would you be afraid?
Not Pedro! He went through all these changes, remembering the most important thing: to be successful in our mission.
(You'll often hear him say, "Remember the mission guys! The mission!!!")
Virginie: from working as an executive assistant to being in charge of HR
Virginie started working as an executive assistant years ago. At the time, we needed someone to help us book meetings and organize our small office.
Over time, as we grew, more office-level work started to be shared among employees or outsourced to other companies. Virginie started to think about her next move and wondered how she could be useful to the company.
Because we were hiring employees almost on a weekly basis at that time, she suggested she could help with hiring and started to work as our very first HR. However, she needed training because it was brand new for her.
She looked for HR training, but we had nothing on OpenClassrooms at this time. 😐
She found a course elsewhere and is currently following this course. Other people at OpenClassrooms have heard about this change and started inviting her to recruitment meetings to help her as she trains! 😊
What should I do?
All these stories have one purpose: to prepare you for change. In the first six months you are guaranteed to see new roles, new missions and new work processes being created around you. Before coming to OpenClassrooms, be ready to take on new challenges, as the rocket moves fast. 🚀
If you're hired for a mission, remember that it will probably evolve fast (6-12 months). Be ready to take on new challenges, and to let go of others. Be fluid and go with the flow! 🌊
Remember the mission is paramount. Ask yourself this question:
Am I helping realize OpenClassrooms' mission?
If the answer is not a big YES, don't worry, that's perfectly normal. It happens to everyone. Make small adjustments to your work, adapt a little bit.
Talk to other people throughout the day, especially during lunches and other breaks. Understand what's going on and offer your help when you feel it could be useful, even if it's very different from what you think you're supposed to do.
Don't ask for permission: try new stuff for a while, and if it works, continue to do it and talk about it. If it's useful, other people will naturally do the same. Congratulations: you have been part of the change without even noticing it. 😉