One of the biggest lessons I took away from Cabify was the importance of defining a set of values for your company. They’re an opportunity to define what it is you’re looking for in the team, and a way to measure success. They help new members determine what direction everyone is rowing in.
To begin with, one of the most earliest values we started with was “only hiring people we could have a beer with”. Juan de Antonio used to repeat this with considerable frequency, most likely as an excuse to go and have more after work beers. On a serious level though it set the tone for the type of profiles we were after; people you can get along with inside and outside the office.
Beer sadly doesn’t scale, so eventually we started suffering after hiring profiles who didn’t quite fit into the company culture and specifically in the product team. We didn’t really know why or what the culture was, we only knew that there was conflict and productivity was being effected.
In early 2016, having seen examples of other companies laying out the values, most notably Netflix, David Smyth and myself while in Mexico City started defining a set of slides for the things we thought were important. Unfortunately there are no public copies of the original presentation, but the end result, while probably a bit corny now, really helped us determine which people weren’t fitting in, and most importantly, why, so we could guide them in the right direction.
Fast-forward a few years and the company invested a great amount of time to adopt a set of global values which are now prominently posted on the website and an important feature of the product handbook.
So with all this prior experience in mind, I’m asking myself again now, what values are relevant for Invopop in these very early stages?
The following list is what I’ve come up with to get started. It should be considered the MVP of company values and will change as the project develops. What’s interesting in my opinion is to maintain this post as a snapshot in time as the actual values continue their own cycle.
Create things that add value and solve problems.
Build to last by thinking about the quality of the end result and ensuring that others can continue to build on top of what you created.
When solving problems, identify root causes, don’t just fix the symptoms.
Be cautious of “fake building”; creating things for the sake of building without asking what problems are actually being solved, or if they should be solved at this time.
Continually ask yourself what can be removed or taken away to ensure what you’re creating is as simple as it possibly can be while solving the problem at hand.
Use layers effectively to abstract complexity through neat and tidy interfaces.
Think about how others or indeed yourself will use what you’re working on in the future and make sure its as easy to understand as possible.
Be wary of “fake simplicity”; the act of taking shortcuts which might solve a problem now, but add complexity in the long term.
Support & Communicate
Actively speak to others about what you’re working on to seek their advice and recommendations. Encourage everyone to share their decisions or thoughts.
Always seek to write down details on how to use or understand what you’re working on with a view to others being able to pick up from where you left off.
Listen to what others have to say, and ensure that everyone is heard. Take turns when speaking, and don’t interrupt.
Be patient and allow others to learn from their mistakes, no matter how tempting it is to correct them from the beginning.
Offer and acknowledge advice, even if not solicited, with a positive and constructive attitude.
Reject “fake support” that appears patronizing or makes you feel unconformable. Take the high ground however and attempt to help them understand so that they may correct themselves in the future.
We believe truth builds trust, and transparency is the enemy of negative politics.
Avoid sugarcoating, exaggeration, or confusion in order to attempt to gain the upper hand.
Attempt to be as transparent as possible with information, albeit within the limits permitted by data protection laws and intellectual property rights.
When choosing between providers or partnerships, value and attempt to measure their honesty as a key requirement of the decision making process.
Avoid thoughtless honesty. If what you have to say might be difficult for the other person to swallow, try to be as constructive as possible.