＊ミネルヴァ大学から参加していたミシェルさんのDO THE SAMURAIでの体験記です。
Interning at Do The Samurai (DTS) over the past Summer as a Web Development Intern, I expected my technical skills to be challenged, which they were. I worked with amazing designers and developers to simplify the registration process, add Google Maps integration, implement parts of goshuin camera, and many other small projects.
However, I did not expect to be so challenged in two areas that I loved and were fairly confident in: cultural understanding and product development. In retrospect there are things I would have done differently given what I know now. As such I’m tremendously grateful for both the patience DTS has graciously extended to my bumbling self and for the growth that I have experienced through this opportunity. The modest insight I’ve gleaned from the last few months have changed how I analyze and evaluate many aspects of my life, and hopefully will be interesting to you as well. Of course, I am still an outsider looking in and judging from my biased background, and apologize in advance for the generalizations I will mistakenly make.
Coming from a very westernized education and work experience, there are a few key differences in how DTS works that have stayed with me and changed the way I think of product development: the currency of accountability, process over result, and the treatment of ambiguity.
Currency of Accountability
In my previous experiences with other organizations, trust was built upon how tasks were executed. Upon onboarding, one was quickly introduced to how work gets organized and done; leaders focused on defining objectives and driving the team to reach them.
In DTS, I felt that trust was built based more on relationships and character. Upon onboarding, I had a 30 minute one-on-one with every member of the team, learning their characters and background before I knew anything about specific work that was going on within the company. The first aspect of Ryo-san that stood out to me was how much effort he invested into and how well he cultivated the team culture.
I was amazed by how close the team was on a personal level, and felt that it was reflected in how robust their teamwork was. While there could be heated disagreements on specific decisions around the product, it never changed the trust the team had in each other. Beyond the strength of trust, I really felt that every team member was really happy to spend time with the others at work.
Process over Result
While most past teams I was on defined themselves by the results they wanted to achieve, I felt that the team at DTS was more focused on and defined by they processes on which they worked. Every regular process at DTS was very specifically defined from regular task workflows (brought up, tracked, assigned, reported, completed, integrated) to brainstorming processes (shared questions, discussions, evaluations, comments). Many of which I learnt from and will use in my future work as well.
I found that the clarity meant that there was never any confusion or inefficiency during the process. And since the processes were deliberately designed for the team members, I also felt that they brought the best out of them, creating environments and situations where they could create their best work. I was particularly impressed by this procedural accommodation of the team member’s specific work preferences and now realize that it was something that I significantly undervalued before.
Treatment of Ambiguity
There is an acceptance at DTS that I was first confused by. Values, spirituality, or purpose/ function were sometimes discussed in very abstract terms without reaching any clear conclusions. Sometimes conclusions were “I don’t know”. While I was confused by these discussions at first, I realized that this acceptance of ambiguity allowed for hard discussions on complex issues that necessarily lacked clarity. Additionally, the ambiguity provided the space for more reflective but less accurate characterizations to be formed. Overall, while this was the aspect of my experience that I struggled with the most, it is the one that I most appreciate and learnt from.
My entire experience at DTS was filled with fascinating experiences and nurturing people. The different philosophies on accountability, processes, and ambiguity that I encountered have broadened my perspective and gave me questions that I will continue to ponder and learn from. Thank you so much to Minerva, Mistletoe, and of course, Do The Samurai for making this experience possible.