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May 7, 2021

The growth of a small team - Didacte turns 5!

This year, we are celebrating Didacte's 5th anniversary and we have decided to invite you behind the scenes! 

The company has always been a group of friends who enjoy working as much as having a good time together. In the beginning, it was formed only with the shareholders, but since then the team has doubled.

What has changed the most? How did that influence the work and the atmosphere?

Jean-Philippe and Martin share with us their opinion and their experience regarding the growth of our small team!

Jean-Philippe Doyle is a back-end developer and one of Didacte's main shareholders. He co-founded the parent company, Hookt Studios, and has been at the forefront of product development from its ideation to today.

Martin Busuttil is responsible for the customer experience, but also one of our most recent recruits. He joined Didacte’s ranks in 2020 when we were both in lockdown and growing at full pace. 

Photos of Jean-Philippe Doyle and Martin Busuttil separated by a cake

What were, in your opinion, the main challenges with the growth of the team? 

(Jean-Philippe) This is a fairly special growth, among other things because it has been greatly amplified by COVID-19, but also experienced remotely. Since the start of the pandemic, we have made several hires, so the challenges have come as much from adapting to remote work as from growing the size of the team.

I think we have always seen each other as a small, tight-knit team and we had to think of ways to keep this spirit even while being at a distance and more numerous. I think the team had several good ideas to transmit and maintain our vibe such as virtual happy hours, team lunches, Among Us parties and, when sanitary conditions allow, small, pleasant outdoor gatherings. 

On a more professional level, the addition of members to the team has also led to rethinking our working methods, roles, and responsibilities. We are still in the process of change and I think it's normal that we had to wait for growth a little for things to stabilize. It then allowed us to think about how to improve the functioning of everything according to the new players in the team.

This is one of the most important challenges in growth: knowing when to take a break to reorganize and optimize the procedures, without these changes hampering the growth or the team’s motivation.

We recently changed our planning method to use an approch that includes production cycles and cool-downs, where a selection committee analyzes and chooses the elements to be produced. We also changed the roles and responsibilities of part of the team at the same time, because these two changes went hand in hand and that seemed logical to us. However, we realized that it was a lot of change management at the same time, maybe a little too much! So we experienced a little rush, but people adapt quickly, I think we now have a better-structured team for the future.

What is the impact of the last hires on the productivity or efficiency of the team? 

(Jean-Philippe) I believe that all the additions we have made recently have had positive impacts on the productivity and efficiency of the team. I don't know if we're just lucky or if we have a great process, but all of the recent hires have been successful, I believe, for both the company and the employee. 

As for the Didacte developer team, the hiring allowed us to focus much more on the development of the application by delegating certain tasks to the new ones. In the beginning, it can be difficult to delegate, but when you realize that it is better done and that new ideas are brought in, it is magical and it is much more productive.

Also, for a long time - too long - we didn't have an in-house designer. This is something that we all missed. Bringing Jules full-time to the team allowed us to pick up the best design practices, which ultimately make development easier. 

By being a small growing team, it allows us to have positions that evolve, that adapt. It is always good to have the flexibility to allow employees to evolve, but even more in a context of growth. Marie-Hélène and Martin are two good examples of that, they take a lot of initiatives to help the team and their role is changing. I think it's positive and productive for the company as well as for them.

We will certainly still juggle to optimize various things, but I believe that we now have a good basis to ensure our growth in the medium term.

Have organizational values and culture evolved over time? 

(Jean-Philippe) Yes, I believe that adding members to our team is an opportunity to change your culture. It is not only the prerogative of those who were there first, even if when you join us, but our values must obviously speak to you a little! It's still an addition of lots of great little ideas, stories and common evolving experiences.

Marie-Hélène did a survey this year on the values of the team and I believe that we were due to do this exercise now that the team has doubled and is made up of several new faces. We quickly realized that the texts on our site were getting old, but I think that the basis of our culture was still very much in line. 

The survey also allowed us to identify areas for improvement. In the past, we have often defined ourselves as being a horizontal structure, without hierarchy as much as possible. It worked at 4-5, but not at 10-11. Or at least it can't work the same way. This is what led to a little restructuring to clarify roles and responsibilities, for the better.

You also get older, when we founded Hookt Studios, we were barely 20 years old. There is a part of the corporate culture that evolves at the rate of our personal evolution. When we started, we said we wanted to be entrepreneurs without working crazy hours every week. Now, with children for many, that also includes allowing a great work-family-study balance. It's still the same philosophy, but it's maturing - well, I think! 

How did you come to make yourself a place in a small tight-knit team?

(Martin) Lockdown or not, starting a new job is always a challenge, just to get off on the right foot and integrate well with the whole team.

I have the impression that it's a bit of a two-player game. The team itself has doubled in the last couple of years, so in itself that requires a major adaptation from those who have been there for a long time.

For my part, I came from a completely different field and background and I was fully aware of it. The key is to know how to adapt quickly, to be transparent and to always be open-minded. I think it was the case on both sides at this level, and that's what made it so easy.

On the other hand, it is obvious that the current context of the pandemic and remote working is absolutely nothing but normal. The only thing to do for now is to try to make the most of the particular situation we are in.

Finally, the most important element: always leave your ego aside when you start working in a new group!

Why do you like working at Didacte?

(Martin) For simplicity. Nothing is complicated. We know what to expect and everyone is on the same page. These are capital values for me.

It is also a company that promotes work-life balance and this is an element that I consider extremely important. A job should never become a burden or a source of discomfort!

Discover the other articles of this serie in the Team section of the blog.


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