ORFIUM’s Engineering Culture

The ORFIUM provides customers with a platform for managing their music rights as it assists employees to discover their potential. Formed in 2015, this company grants rights holders and artists with 100% control of their music content as it is a music platform, monetization, and social network service provider. Customers logging into the ORFIUM website can discover, listen and share the best music. The engineering department has been at the center of this firm’s operations and has over 30 employees. The leadership team of ORFIUM has been a great influencer of the engineering culture which is open, innovative, and experimental. In this article, I will highlight ORFIUM’s organizational culture, the importance of the engineering culture to both the company and the employees as well as the important parts and ways with which this culture can be created.

The Engineering Culture

The core objective of the engineering department at ORFIUM is to develop new technologies that are necessary for achieving the firm’s vision. ORFIUM has been keen on creating a culture that influences the engineering culture which limits itself to the principles of the firm and influences the recruitment of engineers. The engineering culture at ORFIUM addresses the aspect of accessibility, innovation, and experimentation (“ORFIUM | The Music (r) Evolution | Discover, Play, & Download Music”, 2018). These elements have led to the appreciation of the engineering culture in contributing to the success of the firm.

An innovative engineering culture at ORFIUM is critical in identifying opportunities that exist in the market as well as the drawbacks of the current tech. The CTO encourages the engineers to share their thoughts and ideas, captures them, and uses them in the discovery of ideas (Petychakis, 2017). As innovation is prioritized, the engineering team must agree on the best approach to pursue these ideas and trust one another in terms of focus and time. Each innovation has a performance metric that guides, monitors, and enhances the innovation process.

An experimental engineering culture focuses on reviewing the results of the department before using a software. ORFIUM defines the expected standards of a software which is constantly reviewed to ensure it matches these expectations. Such a culture guarantees this firm of obtaining the maximum benefit of the resources invested. This testing contributes immensely to improving the code quality of ORFIUM.

A culture of openness at ORFIUM grants the engineers autonomy and flexibility to make their decisions without being obliged to seek permission. Such an open culture indicates the extent of a clear procedure in place before using software to minimize errors during its use. This open culture shows the type of leaders in the engineering department who coordinate and motivate team efforts.

Important Parts of Culture

A strong organizational culture must contain certain key elements that are a reflection of the mission and values. Culture is the epitome of the hiring process, employee engagement, having a similar corporate language, and working towards achieving the same vision. A great company culture comprises six elements which are values, a vision or mission statement, practices, and the people, place, and story (Coleman, 2013). Understanding each of these components is a key step in reshaping an organization’s culture as it provides a firm foundation for defining culture.

A mission or vision statement defines the purpose of the company which is key in influencing the decisions made by each employee. Having a clear and concise vision or mission statement orients the stakeholders, customers, and suppliers on what to expect from an organization (Coleman, 2013). A vision or mission statement is a central element in the development of culture. Values are another key component of culture given that it provides guiding principles of the mindset and behavior required to accomplish the vision or mission (Gibbs, 2018). Values of most companies revolve around clients, employees, and professionalism and define the authenticity of each of them, which makes values a key component of culture.

Creating a strong organizational culture requires people who are either willing to embrace the defined values or share in them. The hiring process of each organization is dependent on the values adopted by a company. The focus of every organization during hiring is to select individuals who are not only talented but also suit into their corporate culture (Coleman, 2013). Every job seeker looks for a culture they like, and for a company, having the right culture carriers strengthens the existing organizational culture. Having a clear organizational culture assures a firm of the right fit during the hiring process.

Every organization has a unique history that is narrated in the culture in a formal or informal manner. Informing employees of this history is fundamental in establishing a tangible organization culture. The history of a company is embedded in the culture once it is well-known, shaped, and reiterated as part of the firm’s current culture.

The place is a basic influencer of values and behavior of people in a work environment. Whether it is the aesthetic design, architecture, or geography of a place, this component plays a role in shaping culture. The location of an organization could provide an environment that will either support or oppose the culture a company attempts to create.

The last component of culture are practices or operating principles of a firm which are a reflection of its values. For example, an organization that believes in a flat hierarchy will openly encourage its junior personnel to participate in discussions without fear of insubordination or undesirable repercussions. Values of a company must be embedded in the operating principles for them to define a firm’s culture.

Creating an Engineering Culture

An engineering culture entails the shared values, assumptions, and beliefs that determine the behavior of people. As mentioned earlier, values have an essential impact on the actions of the workforce and ways they undertake their jobs. Creating a strong engineering culture is dependent on three essential steps: deciding what is important for a firm, placing the right mechanisms, and integrating values with the mechanisms (Bovaird, 2018).

Defining the elements of priority in a firm requires in-depth analysis and time to select the right system for a business. A popular engineering culture emphasizes on innovation for all the engineers at any place and time they deem fit and utilizing these new frameworks and tech as they regard as suitable (Bovaird, 2018). At ORFIUM, developing a customized engineering culture requires brainstorming with the team members to identify the right practices that will suit the company, its employees, and customers. Identifying the elements of priority are centered on the values which are widely supported by ORFIUM’s employees.

A clear definition of ORFIUM’s values guides the mechanisms to be enforced. Mechanisms comprise operations, people, organizational structure, and workplace that support these values (Gibbs, 2018). The people aspect requires the chief technical officer and the head of engineering to exploit the potential of the engineering team by ensuring they undertake their duties as required. ORFIUM’s processes and operations should constantly motivate the engineering team to identify challenges in the software and develop ideas to address these challenges (Nair, 2017). The workplace at ORFIUM must have the requisite facilities for the engineering team to deliver high-quality programs that are essential for operations.

Values must be embraced at a company-wide basis for them to realize the mechanisms that are in place. Emphasizing values at ORFIUM requires clear communication plans, validating adherence to the set values, and having the best behavior to be imitated at all levels (Bovaird, 2018). Every member of the engineering department must be informed of ORFIUM’s values as they join the firm and must be constantly reminded of the benefits of upholding them (Gibbs, 2018). The engineering department attests to the fact that the leadership culture influences their culture, a behavior that is imitated across the organization. Furthermore, it is essential to confirm adherence to the values by having a measurement tool and constantly improving on them (Nair, 2017). At ORFIUM, a strong engineering culture will be inspired greatly by principles, values, and organizational structures from other firms, but must be customized to the needs of the company.

Importance of the Engineering Culture to the Company and Employees

A strong culture is a vital success and growing component of every organization. An engineering culture results in delivering high-quality software that leads to the overall satisfaction of customers and people using it. Company culture can make or break a firm depending on how well managers regard it. There must be consistency in the application of culture in the workplace for it to yield the benefits discussed below.

Culture influences the reputation, integrity, and public perception of a firm’s brand. A strong culture emphasizes ethical values that must be upheld by all employees, which is dependent on the management (Craig, 2018). A toxic culture like that at Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, or Toshiba has detrimental effects on a business that is not limited to financial constraints; the employees and company’s values feel the effect of such a culture. A strong culture determines the work longevity of employees, their work quality, and behavior at the firm (Craig, 2018). Besides, it also influences their expectations from the world around them thus promoting respect and autonomy in the workplace.

An engineering culture emphasizes collaboration and teamwork among the engineers which is essential in the success of the firm. Learning is encouraged among one another during the development of software thus ensuring a cultural fit among the engineers (“Why Your Engineering Culture Can Make Or Break Your Company”, 2017). Such a culture aids in the growth of the company as numerous innovation opportunities are discovered that add value to a firm. Additionally, an engineering culture instils passion about their work which is a key consideration during hiring. Every organization is strict in the hiring process indicating the extent of prioritization of their culture.


Michael Petychakis

Chief Technology Officer @ ORFIUM