We invest in a culture of belonging, are resourceful in how we work, and assume responsibility in everything we do.
Please remember those three core values and use them as guides in your decision-making.
The more important and consequential the decision, the more we strive to find those choices that maximize our BRR.
Why is Culture Important? (The long version)
Our mission and vision defines what we work on as a company. Our culture defines how we work. How we work is equally important to our success. And since it shapes the day-to-day reality of working at DataSQRL it is more important to our sense of fulfillment. That’s why we take culture very seriously. Annie Dillard nailed it when she wrote “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”. You will spend a lot of your waking hours working. That’s your life. We want to make that worth your while. That’s why we care so much about culture.
A good company culture is like oxygen. It is vital, all around us, and easy to take for granted until it goes missing. It is our shared responsibility to create the best company culture we can imagine. Each and every one of us contributes to our culture.
Company culture is not defined by nice words written on a sheet of paper but by our everyday behaviors and actions. We cannot emphasize this point enough. Most of us have worked for companies with beautifully articulated cultures that had nothing to do with the actual, lived reality inside the organization. We want to be mindful to not fall into this trap. That’s why we are asking everyone to periodically reflect on your behaviors and actions to investigate how you are living our culture.
Our culture is anchored on our three core values: belonging, resourcefulness, and responsibility. We discuss each of those in the following chapters. But before we get there, we would like to take you on a quick detour: what is a core value?
On a personal note, we have sat through a great many company culture presentations with beautifully designed slides that are decorated with nice sounding words like “integrity”, “respect”, “ownership”, “teamwork”, and the list goes on. Each of those words was explained with more flowery words. Everybody nods - yes, those are nice words. People are asked to act in alignment with those words because those are the company values. And then you go back to your actual work and forget all about it because those words have little value when it comes to meeting deadlines, delivering products, or making customers happy.
So, it’s natural to ask: how is this any different? Aren’t our core values just another set of three nice sounding words? How does any of this help you with your job?
At DataSQRL we think about core values a little differently. We consider them lighthouses for decision making. Every day you are making lots and lots of decisions - from the mundane to the highly complex. Those decisions drive how you act and behave. We would like you to use those core values in evaluating your decision choices. Instead of thinking of core values as virtue signals, we think of core values as tradeoffs we collectively make as a company. In other words, we all agree to prefer those choices that are most aligned with our core values over other choices. In doing so, we can act in concert and synchronicity without requiring central coordination.
In practice, it looks like this. Whenever you have to make a significant decision you ask yourself the following questions:
- What other choices or options could I consider in order to improve our shared sense of belonging, that are more resourceful, or that increase my assumed responsibility? This question is particularly useful to discover additional options in situations where there is an “obvious” choice or where you have developed a default choice over years of experience.
- Of all the reasonable choices and options that are available to me, which one maximizes belonging, resourcefulness, and responsibility? Most often, a particular decision you are making aims to solve an immediate problem at hand that is not directly related to our core values. Using the core values as an additional decision tool prioritizes those solutions that are aligned with our company culture.
This means that we are willing to forgo other great decision options and solutions in favor of those that reflect our core values. For instance, we may delay an urgently needed hire in order to find a candidate that increases belonging. Or we may pass on a popular, well-established solution in favor of a more resourceful one. Core values are fundamentally about tradeoffs and adjusting our decision making to prefer those outcomes that are more aligned with our values.
Obviously, we are a business and as such we need to make decisions that advance our mission and success as a business. Choices that accomplish this are reasonable choices. Of those reasonable choices, we aim to pick the ones that are most aligned with our core values. Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where our core values stand in conflict with business objectives like maximizing revenue, acquiring customers, or reducing costs. Those are the most challenging decisions and there is no perfect recipe for how to balance such a tradeoff. At DataSQRL we are willing to sacrifice short term business outcomes in favor of nurturing our company culture because we believe that company culture is more important to long term success. We encourage you to take a long term perspective in making such decisions and consult others if you are in doubt. We trust that you will make the right decision if you keep our core values in mind.
In short, please incorporate our core values into your daily decision making, think of them as factors to score your decision choices, and prefer those choices which are more aligned with our core values even when there are reasonable choices that seem better in other regards. For each of the core values we are going to give examples of tradeoffs to illustrate that last point.