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Why Did I Start AppianGREEN?

By Evan McDonnell

Why did I start Appian Green? Of course I’m a tree hugger, and I’ll get to that in a minute. But the more interesting questions are 1) why did I feel empowered to start Appian Green and 2) why did I do it without asking permission first.

Appian is a young company. Many of our employees don’t have work experience elsewhere so they don’t know how unique a place it is. I, on the other hand, have been around the software business for a while, working for some companies on their way up, and some on their way down.

Our CEO has a phrase that I often repeat. “At Appian, every employee has the right to amaze their peers.” That’s the most succinct way I could sum up our culture. We are all invited to show what we can do. It’s a meritocracy and nothing is standing in anyone’s way. It’s not just words, it’s what really happens at Appian, and that’s unique.

That same spirit did not exist at the other software companies where I worked. I wouldn’t have risked putting forth an initiative that’s not even close to my job responsibilities. And if I did, I would have felt the need to protect myself by asking permission first, making it even less likely that I’d do it.

Now capture that feeling and project it onto the business side of those companies. What do you get? Mediocre results at best because people aren’t willing to step up, take a risk, and show what they can do. Appian is different, and the difference goes all the way down to our DNA. No one here is interested in mediocre results. We’re all telling each other “show me what you can do” all the time. Project that onto the core business and now you have an amazing company!

Back to the green part of the story. I’m an environmentalist and always have been. I’m a big fisherman and hate seeing trash in the water. I nearly cried on a float trip when we hit a spot on the river where the crystal clear water turned brown. Our guide said, “Oh, that’s the effluent pipe for the paper mill. They make paper for magazines and catalogs.” Wow! My great fishing day desecrated so I can get more junk mail.

So I reduce, reuse, and recycle wherever I can. My biggest claim to fame is recycling the deck on my house. I had the contractor take off the old boards, knock out the nails, and stack them up. I put a post on Freecycle.org and within a day had people taking them away to make garden planters and other projects. Didn’t have to pay for a trash dumpster and got the satisfaction of knowing the boards got a second life.

Appian’s CEO designed our workspace to reflect the benefits of our software. Our reception area is streamlined and clutter doesn’t stand a chance. But walk into our kitchens and you’d see food waste in many of our recycling containers, requiring our janitorial staff to put everything in the trash. I knew we could do better.

One day I just decided this would be my own Indie Time project (why should engineering be the only ones to have Indie Time!). I started asking “why couldn’t we…” of a few people. Next thing I knew other Appian-ites were stepping up saying they noted the same things and wanted to be a part of the change. We were off to the races.

The nicest surprise in all of this for me was getting to know others at Appian with whom I might not have otherwise crossed paths. Now I know them personally and we have a shared experience of accomplishing something together which helps make the company stronger.

I hope this helps you understand Appian better. Can’t wait to see how you’ll amaze me once you join!


Why Did I Start AppianGREEN? was originally published in AppianLIFE on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Published on Nov 27, 2017

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