When does a job feel meaningful? Though we are often taught to think of ourselves as inherently selfish, the longing to act meaningfully in our work seems just as stubborn a part of our make-up as our appetite for status or money.”
Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
Everybody deserves meaningful work. “Most adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work, which often serves as a primary source of purpose, belongingness, and identity. For the past three decades, Americans have consistently identified meaningful work as the most important feature that they seek out in a job, ahead of income, job security, promotions, and hours.” (Michaelson et al. 2013) For many, finding meaningful work has meant joining smaller organizations with focused missions: startups.
We adore startups. We use their products. We obsessively read about them. We watch shows about them. We invest in them. We want to work for them and eat their free snacks. Startups are the future: everything happens at the touch of a button, the cars drive themselves, and everything gets better with each update.
Not working for a startup can feel like working in the past. Unending meetings, unclear roles, every decision has to be run up the ladder, management fire drills have you working deep into the weekend, cubicles and drab furniture, and no free snacks.
But here’s the secret: working for a startup sucks too. Oh sure, it’s pretty sweet when it’s five besties at a kitchen table fighting to change the world. The strategic imperative is so clear: find product-market fit or die. It’s a white-knuckle ride with a high mortality rate, but it’s a damn engaging one. However, woe unto those who succeed: with money comes scale, and with scale comes unending meetings, unclear roles, and… well, all the problems you thought were reserved for the sell-outs working in cubicles. Work is a problem for everybody — a full 70% of us are disengaged at the office. Given the workplace is where many of us spend the majority of our adult lives, workplace engagement is an important problem and one that needs to be rectified. That’s why we’ve come together to form Parabol.
Parabol was founded to challenge the workplace status quo. Organizations exist to serve people, and those within an organization should know exactly how their efforts add up to something greater. We’re living at a time where the old models are breaking down due to increased uncertainty, speed, and scale. Organizations need tools that have adapted to this new paradigm — digital tools that promote efficiency and growth but also experimentation and transparency. They have to be fun and playful too, more Slack than Outlook. And just like Slack, they have to subversively impact how people work together.
We’re building software for you. Stay tuned. We’ve got a lot more to share.