The Valve Handbook

Valve is a computer software company that’s on my list to research more, because it definitely exhibits “humanize” tendencies. It’s received a lot of attention for its new employee handbook, which is not the traditional, dry list of policies and procedures. In fact, the subtitle is:

A fearless adventure in knowing what to do when no one’s there telling you what to do.

Awesome. In Humanize, we talk about creating more Open organizations, and at the basic behavior level, this means ownership. Ownership is about employees who are continuously taking action to solve problems. So if you want an organization where ownership is the norm, then you’d better equip your people with the knowledge they need to take action. That’s where new employee orientation comes in. Valve’s handbook subtitle tells it all. You need to give people what they need to know so they can figure out what to do on their own.

This video from “One Minute MBA” pulls out four key lessons from the handbook:

  • Leverage strengths
  • Talk to people all the time
  • The best structures happen organically
  • Hiring is your most important choice.

I like how the handbook focuses on very clear principles, rather than a detailed explanation of what can or cannot be done. This is more human management. Clarity over control.