Our shared idea crystallised in autumn 2020. In little more than five years, Solita Cloud has grown from a support function comprising five infrastructure specialists into an expert organisation with profitable business operations, consisting of more than 50 amazing experts in different positions and from different backgrounds. The change in thinking and everyday life has been significant, and change is never an easy thing to process. Even change accrues compound interest, and the longer you have been involved, the more radical the change seems to be.
People’s attitude to change and growth is what takes organisations forward. Operations are developing further. At Solita Cloud, however, we have missed having an anchor that keeps us all together – the original Cloud spirit of which we hear beautiful stories or heroic war tales by the breakroom table. During the pioneering days, we moved quickly forward and weren’t able to avoid all the painful stumbles. However, the common goal at the start steered us step by step. As we developed further, new competence needs emerged. We needed new people who, in turn, developed the culture further. The common anchor started to drift away. A need emerged to hit pause for a while to consider our common anchor in depth and to think about how we could better glue the community together again. Solita Cloud Manifesto emerged as one solution to the issue – after all, Solita’s software developers had made their own to be an excellent guideline for all Solita people.
Manifesto is a signpost created by the community itself, a way to express the company culture in words, ‘a household code’. It includes the key guidelines that we wish to follow as a community and that we also gently demand from our own actions. The manifesto evolves with the community and its surrounding world. I think that Norm Kerth’s Retrospective Prime Directive also reveals the deepest nature of the manifesto. Retrospective Prime Directive: “Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.” Thinking back, compiling the Cloud Manifesto seemed to be a certain kind of retrospective series and a learning journey into the core of Solita Cloud, or at least the perspective of it by one group.
The work to create the manifesto was launched at the end of a seminar day held in October, via a separate address. First, Janne Rintala held an opening address of the deepest essence of the Dev Manifesto and of the matters we should keep in mind. Janne’s empowering speech allowed us to gather a list of names of interested people with whom the work would be continued. When the seminar day was planned, the original idea was to hold a 1.5-hour workshop with 20 to 30 people during which the manifesto would be drafted or even finished. Retrospectively, it is good that we chose to give the manifesto a little more time and continue working on it with a smaller group of about five active participants. There would be time to go through the manifesto with everyone later, probably multiple times. From the start, it has been a key factor that the manifesto should serve Solita Cloud’s experts.
An hour for the work, repeated every Monday, was added to the calendars of the members of the group of active participants. We started from a clean slate and proceeded through discussions. We did not agree on everything, and sometimes we focused on everyday issues as examples, hoping that the manifesto’s value base would bring a solution to them. Through our good conversational culture and by valuing each other, we were able to find the words to express the four values in the manifesto. There were more proposals as values along the way; some were written into the theses under the values, while others were included in the public notes, reflecting the way our operations at Solita have been completely open from the start.
The format of Solita Cloud Manifesto was quite directly borrowed from the Dev Manifesto: four values with four theses each. I can’t claim that we haven’t borrowed some of the software developers’ guidelines, too. However, we made the manifesto our own and targeted it at Cloud experts. Finally, the manifesto also shows Solita’s value base:
- Caring – Easy-going – Passion – Courage
At publication, it could be assumed that the published article is now finished. However, with something like this, I hope it is not. I hope that it will never be finished, but rather changes agilely with the times. At its best, it actively serves its followers. The manifesto supports us in our daily lives, tells us which way to go and what to change, challenges us to pause and to think about where we currently are. We at Solita Cloud have agreed that the Cloud Manifesto can be changed, with the template agreed. We want to always include several people in this change and encourage discussion amongst the selected group, and we wish them to communicate the changes and the needed modifications to everyone else.
We needed 13 sessions to reach the first publishable result. This translates to around 60–80 working hours. We believe that this investment will save us these working hours several times in the future. We should still continue to pause in our daily lives, as exchanging experiences and learning from them together will benefit us continuously. With Cloud Manifesto, we, the Solita Cloud experts, wish to highlight the matters we all want to believe in. In the world of consultants, the daily work of specialists does not necessarily hold many common denominators. The purpose of Solita Cloud Manifesto was to ground us to our roots, strengthen our community and highlight matters important to it in our projects and client relationships. Even though the everyday work of an expert may take place elsewhere, a Solita Cloud expert will always know where to find support.
The story of Solita Cloud Manifesto will not end here. In the next blog posts, we will learn more about the values and theses of the Cloud Manifesto, as well as how they can be seen in the day-to-day expert work.