The Culture of a Mercury Team

We bring work to the team, not a team to the work

As a MercuryWorks employee, we prize teamwork – in fact, our founder often uses the mantra “the unit of work is the team”.  We don’t “body shop” talent by sending a specialist to one client, another specialist to another client and hope it all works out.  We take on wicked problems and construct systems and applications to solve them.

First, Let's Burst the "Genius Myth"

The “Genius Myth” is the tendency that we as humans need to ascribe the success of a team to a single person/leader

The vast majority of the work at most companies doesn’t require genius-level intellect, but 100% of the work requires a minimal level of social skills and collaboration.  What will make or break your career as a professional, including at MercuryWorks, is how well you collaborate with others.

Because of the Genius Myth, many engineers are afraid to share the work they’ve just started because it means peers will see mistakes and know the creator isn’t a genius.  Professionals working alone, though, increase the risk of unnecessary failure and making fundamental design mistakes that peers could help spot.

We have burst the Genius Myth at MercuryWorks with Agile teamwork, pull requests/peer reviews on all code commits and team-based metrics.

We Mind the Bus Factor

Bus Factor (noun): The number of people that need to get hit by a bus before your project is completely doomed

Working well with your team will help disperse the knowledge and know-how of all parts of your products/projects. If you’re the only person who understands how a given system works, you will not only be bombarded with trivia questions but also greatly imperil the product’s Bus Factor. If you’re working with a colleague, though, you will have doubled the bus factor.

At MercuryWorks we increase the Bus Factor by sharing knowledge via PRs, ensuring there is reasonable documentation and cross training all team members.

Knowledge Sharing Is Key

Personalized, one-to-one advice from a knowledge colleague is invaluable – expert team members can provide completely contextual advice and impart valuable knowledge.  Although one person might be able to provide personalized help for a few people, this doesn’t scale.  Documented knowledge, while much less contextual, can scale across our entire firm.

What is MercuryWorks’ actionable strategy here?  We apply both one-to-one knowledge sharing and formal documentation to build up what we refer to as tribal knowledge – knowledge that exists in the gap between what individual team members know and what is documented.

At MercuryWorks, the Team Is the Superstar

The truth of the matter is that lone software superhumans are extremely rare.  Even when they do exist, though, they don’t perform in a vacuum – world-spanning accomplishments are the result of a spark of their inspiration and insight followed by a heroic team effort.  High-functioning teams are the true key to success and our primary goal.

Our Three Pillars of Social Interaction


You are not the center of the universe (nor is your code!). You’re neither omniscient nor infallible and are open to self-improvement.


You genuinely care about others you work with. You treat them kindly and appreciate their abilities and accomplishments.


You believe others are competent and will do the right thing – and you’re OK with letting them drive when appropriate.

In practice, these pillars can be combined into a general removal of the ego; rather than worrying about whether you’re personally awesome, try to build a sense of team accomplishment and group pride.  “We” makes people feel a whole lot better than “I”.  Further, learn to accept criticism and give others to respectfully help you out when you’re struggling – trust that they’re not doing it to show you up.

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