Twitter recently started sharing unedited notes from engineering meetings with the entire company, an unusual practice in transparency that it imported from digital payments company Square.
The note-sharing could be the first of many such cross-company cultural exchanges, given that Square CEO Jack Dorsey recently took on the additional job of serving as interim CEO at Twitter. Dorsey co-founded both companies, but for the past couple of years, his main operational focus has been at Square, where he has created a unique corporate culture.
Here are a few of the other interesting customs at Square:
Details from board meetings are shared with employees. Every quarter, Square’s board of directors convenes to discuss the state of affairs. The side deck that the board reviews, which contains key business metrics and product roadmaps, is emailed to every employee ahead of the meeting.
After the board meeting, employees are invited to an all-hands meetings where feedback from the board is shared and employees can ask questions about the slide decks.
Employees work at local shops. Employees on product teams are expected to work a few shifts at nearby cafes and restaurants to become familiar with how Square’s products perform in the real world and to get a better sense of the needs of merchants. Engineering head Alyssa Henry recently rolled up her sleeves and worked at Souvla, the popular Greek sandwich restaurant in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, for instance.
An in-house coffee shop serves as testing lab. To ensure that its latest retail payment features are up to snuff, Square built an in-house coffee shop where the company can simulate a real-world retail environment and beta test new software and hardware products. Square employees can order espresso drinks or chai tea lattes from the on-site baristas who sling brews based on local favourites such as Blue Bottle, Sightglass and Four Barrel coffee.
Square secretly tested its new wireless credit card reader at the in-house shop for several weeks before announcing it at Apple’s developer conference in June.
Weekly survey about feelings. Each new week at Square begins with company executives working with their team to answer a few key questions. Two questions that get asked every week: What are we not talking about? And How do we feel? A Google Doc with all the answers is then shared across the company.
Interns get a wish when they finish. When interns finish a tour of duty at Square, they do two things: A. share their proudest accomplishments and B. make a wish, which Square usually tries to grant.
One departing intern asked for a verified Twitter account, for example. But the most popular wish among departing interns is apparently to be invited to the Square holiday party.
Roaming robots: Video “windows” provide live video streams of the goings-ons at all of Square’s various remote offices, from Tokyo to Toronto. To have a conversation with a far-away colleague just walk up to the screen. Specialised mobile robots equipped with video conferencing gear also roam the halls, allowing remote employees to virtually interact with their colleagues.