An Insightful Look at Valve's Employee Handbook
We’re going to try something a little different this week with a bit of an unusual topic. Bear with me.
It’s fairly common knowledge that Valve is unique as an organization. It operates outside the norm, and as a result, it has become one of the most beloved businesses in the gaming industry. Of course, all I’m doing is telling you folks what you already know – that Valve’s a pretty cool organization, and Gabe Newell is a pretty cool guy.
But what specific characteristics make Valve unique? How exactly do they differ from every other big-name publisher and developer out there? How do they inspire such loyalty, both in their fans and their employees?
A video recently posted by a website known as One Minute MBA sheds a bit of light on things. Titled “What every Company can learn from Valve’s Employee Handbook,” it goes into a fair bit of depth on how the organization runs things – fairly impressive, once you consider the fact that the video is only two minutes long. I’ll sum things up for you here, but it’d still behoove you to watch the video for yourself – particularly if you’ve any interest in business.
“If Valve’s employee handbook isn’t required reading for every MBA program,” the video begins, “then it should be. This successful company operates with no managers, no bosses, and no required SCRUM meetings. Instead, each employee makes decisions, chooses their projects, and uses their talents to make the company successful…The handbook says that employees should ask themselves what leverages their individual strength the most, and…talk to people all the time.”
That right there is probably the reason Valve inspires such loyalty in its employees – it essentially epitomizes what everybody dreams about when they think of a career in game development. Sure, Valve’s employees are still expected to work, and work hard – but they’re doing what they love, and they get to do so without having upper management breathing down their necks. At the risk of sounding like a bit of a bleeding heart, it creates an environment of trust, collaboration, and community. Chances are good that most decisions at Valve were made not by the upper management, but by the employees of the organization.
There’s not much else to say. Valve is, without a doubt, the most popular organization in the world of PC gaming. Their products are of the utmost quality, their digital distribution platform is among the most widely used, and the decisions they make seem geared to benefit gamers, rather than the organization itself.
These traits more than probably stem from the way Valve does things – the organic growth of their project teams; and the freedom afforded to and creativity expected of their employee. That’s not to say there aren’t traditional organizations that can put it great products – just that Valve’s structure is very well-suited to the design process. Anyway, there’s not much else to say. Those of you who would like to read Valve’s Handbook can find it here, and I’ll see you folks next week.