You are the sum of the people you associate with. At Slate this idea is a part of our DNA which is a double helix of technology and culture, championed by our people.

We believe in increasing the collective cognitive ability of our team. The client pays the cost of one developer but gets the knowledge of our entire consultancy.

There is a cliché that you are only as fast as the slowest member. But in smaller consultancies there is a drafting effect. The slowest runners get pulled along by the wake of those who came before. This culture is not only evangelised by smaller consultancies but it ends up being transplanted into the client. Up-skilling the clients employees and growing their capabilities.

Don’t hire cookie cutter developers. Build a team with a mixture of opinions and technical abilities. Look for people who are passionate about technology and take pride in building great products. Smaller consultancies don’t have the barrier of a HR manager, potential employees can speak directly to the boss and the people they may end up working with. They can soak up the atmosphere and get excited about the culture. Nothing turns off a developer more than a rigid hiring process along with trying to explain to the non tech in charge of vetting candidates, that Java and Javascript are not the same thing. Smaller consultancies hire the people larger organisations want and need but can’t have.

Having the right people is only the first step. You need a protocol for communication. Slack is a great place to start. At Slate our approach is simple. We have a tech channel where we share links to the latest technology news as well as new tools, frameworks and more. These links are the inception point for reels of conversation that provide endless value.

Paired programming is another hyper effective way of sharing knowledge. It was only the other day I watched Callum and Rob — who are both fine examples of being cut from the Slate cultural cloth — hacking their way through a Pulumi script to provision the infrastructure for a Slate side project. All while sat in the pub on a busy Friday evening, undistracted by the surrounding commotion. Tunnelling their way through to their instance over EEs trusty tethered 4G network. This is the type of culture that exists in smaller consultancies that is unattainable for larger organisations.

So why should this matter to you? Capitalising on shared knowledge not only means you’re getting a whole team of experience and expertise for the price of one dev, but it also has some advantageous side effects for your organisation such as; less time wasted with people being siloed on problems, less experienced employees are up-skilled at a rapid pace and there ends up being an increased transparency of information surrounding technical implementation and decisions. No one gets left behind.

At Slate this is an approach we bet the house on and so far the proof is in the pudding.