We recently returned from our company retreat, where the entire team (26 of us!) packed into an enormous house outside of Orlando to hang out, plan, and discuss strategy for the company and our products. While we try to keep the formal meetings to a minimum, one discussion was around our company values. For a small, team-focused company like ours, we live and work by our values. They are the rules that govern the direction of the company and the day to day decisions we make. As the company has grown, we felt it was important to look at our values again and see if they still fit. All 26 of us had an open discussion, and at the end those values still hold up, but we needed some minor changes and some additions.
First, we changed “We are driven by one metric: our customer's success” to “We are motivated and rewarded by our customer’s success.” When looking back at this, we realized that while our customer’s success is what drives our products, it’s not the number one metric for how we run the company. We place the team and their happiness first and foremost, because everything else is a result of that environment and mindset. This led to adding creating the value “Wildbit is product agnostic. We exist to support our team.” and moving it to the top of the list.
We also updated the 4th value, “We expect great things from ourselves. You should expect the same from everyone else.” This is slightly related to the 2nd, but we felt it was important to explicitly say that we have to rely on each other to do our best work.
Lastly, we added “Don't be an asshole” to the formal list. This was always in the discussion when we define our values a few years back. Instead of being assumed, we felt it deserved a legitimate place in the list.
With that, here is the full list of Wildbit values. You can also see them on the updated Wildbit site.
1. Wildbit is product agnostic. We exist to support our team.
The decisions we make and the directions we decide to go are based on the happiness and satisfaction of our team. This prevents us from putting product growth above all else and sacrificing the culture we've created. We’d rather grow slowly and feel like a family than have a runaway success.
2. As individuals, we are self-motivated and constantly improving our craft.
Each person at Wildbit has an internal motivation to be great at their craft. We despise mediocrity and monotony and constantly strive to learn new things. This desire to improve exists internally and doesn’t require external influence.
3. As a team, we support each other to do the work of our lives.
Each individual is capable of great things, but we cannot accomplish our work without the unique perspective and complimenting skills of our team members. The combined knowledge, skills, perspective, and experience allow us to do more than we could ever do on our own. We help each other remove obstacles, look at problems from multiple points of view, and to stay focused on what matters.
4. We expect great things from ourselves. You should expect the same from everyone else.
Each person on this team is an expert. Each person, no matter the role or seniority, brings value to discussions. We don’t have junior roles who are expected to produce less or know less. With this in mind, we expect each person to give 100% of their focus to their work, communication, and overall effort. We expect it from ourselves, so it is only fair that we expect if from each other person on the team as well. Our ability to grow slow, as a family, is dependent on each person giving their entirety to our mission and direction of our company and products.
5. We are motivated and rewarded by our customer’s success.
Our reward and success as a company is based on hearing praise from our customers and helping them make real progress in their work. We can rely on data to inform decisions, but the ultimate motivation comes from the feeling we get when we help our customers succeed.
6. Be respectful, natural and transparent in communication.
We are skilled and confident, yet humble and empathetic. We realize that our strong opinions are based on our individual perspective, allowing us to make better decisions as a whole. Our conversations with customers (and each other) are relaxed and casual, as you would talk to a friend standing in front of you. And finally, we are transparent with each other and our customers. We get problems out on the table to discuss, voice our concern up front, and avoid being passive aggressive.
7. Most things are not urgent. Be patient, stay calm, go home.
As Natalie says, “We are not saving lives here.” Feel stressed or overworked? Take a break. We take our work seriously, but solid health and family life is what enables us to do our best work. We are all in this to create a better life for ourselves — don’t forget those priorities.
8. The best ideas happen in peace and quiet (or when you are not around a computer).
Schedule time to take a walk, go on vacation, meditate, or stare at the clouds. We are all passionate about our work, so it is hard to separate work from personal life. Don’t get caught up in the act of keeping busy at the expense of not thinking clearly. This will allow you to come up with better solutions and have a better mindset for when you decide to hang up your hat for the day.
9. Be practical. The best decisions consider time, resources and mutual acceptance.
Are we solving a problem that actually exists right now? We should ask ourselves this constantly. It’s easy to get caught up in perfection or idealistic solutions, then look back and realize you’ve created the perfect solution to the wrong problem. We’re a small team (with the intent to stay small) with limited time and real constraints, so our focus should be on solving real, short and long term problems at the right time. By always starting with “Why”, we make sure our choices are intentional. Whether that’s choosing what to work on next, picking office furniture, or deciding on a deployment process for the team.
10. Don’t be an asshole.
With any guidelines or rules, there are gray areas. You could always think up edge cases and wonder what you should do in a given context. So we came up with the most basic rule to help make decisions one way or another when we’re unsure. Just don’t be an asshole. Don’t take advantage of our trust and respect for each other. Do what you need to, but follow the Golden Rule.