Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

May 26, 2017

Haytham Samad, Director of Software Engineering, Peak6 |

The core of the PEAK6 business is PEAK6 Capital Management, a proprietary trading firm located in Chicago. As a large trading firm, things move fast. Speed is key to staying on top of — and ahead of — the markets. As a firm built on sophisticated, proprietary technology that means we have to be very adaptable, flexible and ready to react to changing conditions

To do this, we’ve made “continuous improvement” an organizational goal. This goal makes everyone in our organization responsible and empowered to question what we are doing as well as suggest and try — without fear of failure — new ways of doing things that will improve themselves and the organization. Individuals are encouraged and take part in setting their development goals. Some people set goals to learn new technical skills that they would not directly learn on the job whereas others want to build skills that would require them to attend conferences or instructor led classes.

At a team level, our team observed that we are less efficient in how we schedule and use meetings. So no meeting days were suggested and successfully implemented, and meetings are clustered at specific times during the day to avoid distractions.

Through a culture of continuous improvement, we empower our teams to identify and implement value added changes while also continuously learning and growing in order to keep pace with our business demands.

At an individual level, we are very focused on developing our new hires. Especially college recruits. We assign each new hire a mentor that would guide them through various phases of their development starting with prescriptive and institutional learning and gradually release responsibility to them as they develop into more independent contributors that can lead projects.

We set very personal development goals that are in line with each individual’s strengths, aspirations, areas of development and company values. These goals are set and coached/mentored on throughout a person’s tenure in our group. We have a strong interest in each individual's growth because their growth is a driver for our success as a team.

We look at mistakes as opportunities to learn. We reflect on them individually and as a group (in retrospectives) and identify lessons learned so we do not do the same mistakes again. We seek to share these lessons as broadly as possible and institutionalize them where it makes sense in our value chain, processes and our approach to problem-solving and solution conceptualization.

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