Over 38 years, Omnica has continued to satisfy its customers and employees because our founder Earl Robinson has spent a career learning about how to manage creative teams. He learned early on that creatives are different from most people and thus require a unique environment to use their talents and thrive. The result is a peer-based culture that does not conform to the typical structure of most companies.
We are all familiar with org charts. We have seen them a million times. They cannot however communicate the structure of Omnica. Each person can be involved in many roles and in Omnica that is especially true.
Just as an example, my roles are many, I am responsible for all Marketing activities, I manage the IT environment, I manage all sales opportunities, I find new hires, I do project management, I build cable assemblies. I could probably think of a few more things.
I challenge you to write a job description for me that would make any sense. Job descriptions are demeaning, why would you not want to maximize the talent of the individual rather than put them in a confined box and limiting what they are capable of? This is the traditional method of management that we believe has reached the end of its usefulness. It was designed in the early days of the industrial revolution but is not relevant to the knowledge and creative work of today.
The Omnica culture has evolved through the years to become what it is, and is not well documented or formalized. There are elements of a variety of management paradigms but there is not one overarching “system of management” the management has certain principles:
- Logic and Common Sense
- Orbiting the Giant Hairball
- Encourage Continuing Education
- Economic Responsibility
- Profit Sharing
“Integrity is the essence of everything successful” Buckminster Fuller
No partnership can flourish if one of the parties has ulterior motives or seeks advantage over the other. This simple precept leads to effectively accomplished business and personal agreements. The founders of Omnica came originally from Kansas and maintain the midwest values they grew up with.
Logic and Common Sense
None of the founders had business degrees or relied on published guides about running a business. All the business processes have been internally developed including custom software for time tracking and personal calendars. Everything was based on logic and common sense. While in some cases these systems may seem antiquated, they still function extraordinarily well.
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
Business is subject to a frustratingly wide variety of non-productive bureaucratic influences. Gordon MacKenzie, in his book Orbiting the Giant Hairball, asserted that every business has internal procedural, reporting, approval, and organizational processes that comprise a virtual “hairball” that impedes progress. Add to these the every present external hairballs like insurance, inspectors, HR, the IRS, FDA, the state board of equalization, Air Quality, EPA etc. Its a wonder that anything useful ever gets done. MacKenzie’s assertion is that to succeed in business, one must learn to “orbit”; high and fast enough to not be snagged by the morass below, but near and slow enough as to not reach escape velocity and lose sight of what the relationship really needs. Omnica has learned to somewhat master this dynamic by eschewing non-productive internal processes and avoiding projects from companies that deem “process” is more important than progress. Process never solved a problem.
Leave your ego at the door. Ego is usually a destructive force in a product development environment. Engineers need to take constructive criticism well and in practice, solicit it. Those that have not been able to do this are no longer employed here.
Every Omnica employee has been given the opportunity to learn new skills and to take on as much responsibility as they wish. Many have taken advantage and many are happy remaining in their comfort zone.
The company puts its employees first and throughout the years during difficult periods has always sacrificed management compensation before that of the employees.
Benefits Package and Profit Sharing
Omnica provides a very generous benefits package including bonuses, company paid medical insurance and a profit sharing program through our private 401K plan.
So what have been the results of operating in this way for so many years?
Massive throughput capability. Omnica is actively working on as many as 20 projects of different sizes simultaneously without sacrificing quality or schedule for any of them. We complete 50 – 80 projects per year.
As a company, we have almost zero turnover (average tenure of 17 years) resulting in much lower costs.
Greater efficiency allows us to do more with less and thus improve profitability.