Our culture and brand go hand in hand. After all, a business is what its people make it.
We don’t want to walk blindly into the future, we want to forge ahead and shape it. And we believe that people-centric technology is the key to achieving that.
Technology exists to serve people, and people need to be considered from the very creation of an idea, right through to a product being brought to market.
Necessity is the mother of all invention. But that’s far from the whole family tree. Curiosity. Creativity. Courage. They’re all part of the invention gene pool.
Our culture is an accumulation of ideas and philosophies we agree with and maintain. Lots of it is shamelessly stolen from other people's good ideas, that we support and believe in. We have taken many core ideas from companies we like such as Netflix, Toyota, Space X (because spaceships!) It represents what we believe and what we aspire to be and achieve.
We believe we are on earth to change it for the better, the ones with passion and drive are the ones that do.
It's easy to list a set of values - it's much harder to live them. Culture for us is not about pool tables and funky sofas. Whilst that stuff is great, it's just stuff, and in reality, after the initial novelty, it does not create lasting work happiness and fulfilment. For us, living and breathing our values is what's important and we want to work with others that do the same. So we can do great, fulfilling work. We want everyone to help each other live the values and hold each other responsible for being role models. It's a constant aspirational challenge.
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince
Our company mantras
We use about 60% of our brain to process visual information, when compared to about 20% for language. Making things visual makes management of them easier. Ways to be visual:
This one we have pinched from our mate Jeff Bezos - make decisions fast. There are two types of decisions - those that are easily reversible (type 1) and those that are not (type 2). Most decisions are the first kind (type 1) and easy to reverse, like sliding doors you can easily walk through, see what its like, and, if you don't like what you see you can walk back through. Some might think of this as a waste of time, but actually now you know whats on the other side, you have learnt something, so it's not for nothing. Other decisions (type 2) are irreversible and once you walk through there is no going back. However in business most decisions are actually the first kind and easy to reverse. Therefore we only need to use slow decision making for irreversible decisions. This also relates to the fail fast - accept failure and its risks. Often the risks are easy to mitigate and if they are low its better to embrace speed.
Ah the session musician - this is the unsung hero that rocks up to the studio and lays down the perfect track. Perhaps too perfect. She is clearly the best musician in the room - but the band still have feedback for her. "It sounds too good! Can you play it more grunge?", "sure I'll give it a go". She lays down another perfect track to the best of her ability. The session musician is self confident in her craft, but always looking to incorporate feedback, never takes suggestions personally (she knows she rocks). No egos, no drama, just a focus on producing the best sum of the whole, creating the best music and honing her craft. She could easily play a better solo than the lead but in this moment the music needs just a few well timed notes to make it sing. Be the session musician. Love your craft. Fall in love with the results.
In a nutshell: Be fearless when giving feedback, be thankful to receive feedback, and finally, decide what feedback to take on board.
Feedback is the only way to learn and grow. It's also pretty rare - friends won't often give you feedback, they don't want awkward conversations.
They will often know whats wrong with something - but wont tell you unless you push them.
In Japan to not give constructive criticism is a sign of disrespect - you are not giving the person an opportunity to grow. I love that.
Apple also have a similar value called "fearless feedback".
Be fearless when giving feedback
Don't be scared to give feedback to help people improve. There are two sides to this as receiving feedback well is equally important. To make things more complex not all feedback is valid. Perhaps you are receiving feedback from someone who doesn't understand the full picture, this can be frustrating. Often testing things is artificial and so feedback can be skewed by an artificial lens (be aware decide whats valid). Thanking people for feedback means you create a safe space where feedback arrives, next decide if you will take it on board.
I'm OK, You're OK
Some people take feedback as a direct attack on their ego, or value as a person. They hear it as "you're not ok". Don't be that guy. Don't be the guy that turns up to the music audition and storms out when his groove doesn't fit. Be the guy who doesn't take the feedback personally. Kung Fu teaching moment: "Be like water" - Thanks Sifu. As a feedback giver make sure the person receiving feedback knows you think they are ok. But also don't fear giving it - if they storm out the room or throw their proverbial toys out the pram, well... that's on them. It's pretty hard to give people real critical feedback, so you should be thankful for it, then decide what bits to take on board.
When asking why we do something - if you get "that's just the way we do it here". This is a problem. We should positively challenge how things are done. Recipes are a great way to be efficient but sometimes you need to question them. https://youtu.be/kib6uXQsxBA?t=109
Most of these values can easily be followed by simply being positive, and being kind. If a colleague or client spots a bug, or a problem - we thank them for it. We don't moan at people who can't fix the problem we talk constructively and directly with those who can. Negativity has a way of spreading and making everyone miserable. Don't make everyone miserable - what we do is challenging, creative and fun - and we should practice gratitude for that.
Our team values are adapted from Netflix excellent work.
We first found Netflix work on their culture and values when we were trying to find other companies who had similar crazy ideas (and they had worked). We were searching for other companies that had extremely simple expenses policy. It felt very sensible for us to trust the team to make good decisions. After all, we are a small company, and everyone is just one phone call away or email away. Furthermore without trust its very hard to innovate and produce good work. So, did we really require more bureaucracy? We just wanted a statement that said something like, use your best judgement - we were 5 people at the time and obviously they all knew me well. Is it really so difficult? After talking to HR companies and puzzled looks from staff members I found Netflix expenses policy: "Act in Netflix's best interest". Amazing - I felt validated! How can it be a crazy idea if Netflix do it! I went to work to modify this into our glorious expenses policy. After much effort, and late night coffee-fueled hard grafting we arrived at the following: "Act in the best interest of Newicon"
- You make wise decisions despite ambiguity
- You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms
- You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do
- You are good at using data to inform your intuition
- You make decisions based on the long term, not near term
- You listen well, instead of reacting fast, so you can better understand
- You are concise and articulate in speech and writing
- You maintain calm poise in stressful situations to draw out the clearest thinking
- You adapt your communication style to work well with people from around the world who may not share your native language
- You provide candid, helpful, timely feedback to colleagues
- You are positive, you lift the team up not bring them down
- You say what you think, when it’s in the best interest of Newicon, even if it is uncomfortable
- You make tough decisions without agonising
- You take smart risks and are open to possible failure
- You question actions inconsistent with our values
- You are able to be vulnerable, in search of truth
- You’re quick to admit fault and see it as a good lesson learnt
- You actively seek feedback and don’t try to protect yourself from criticism
- You are curious
- You learn rapidly and eagerly
- You seek to understand our strategy, market, customers and suppliers
- You contribute effectively outside of your speciality
- You seek alternate perspectives
- You love to learn new things
- You inspire others with your thirst for excellence
- You care intensely about Newicon’s success
- You are tenacious and optimistic
- You are quietly confident and openly humble
- You celebrate failures and what we learnt from it
- You celebrate wins
- You seek what is best for Newicon, rather than what is best for yourself or your group
- You are open-minded in search of great ideas
- You make time to help colleagues
- You share information openly and proactively
- You create new ideas that prove useful
- You re-conceptualise issues to discover practical solutions to hard problems
- You challenge prevailing assumptions when warranted, and suggest better approaches.
- You keep us nimble by minimising complexity and finding time to simplify
- You thrive on change
- You are known for candor, authenticity, transparency, and being non-political
- You only say things about fellow employees that you say to their face
- You admit mistakes freely and openly
- You treat people with respect regardless of their status or disagreement with you
- You collaborate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures
- You collaborate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures
- You nurture and embrace differing perspectives to make better decisions
- You are curious about how our different backgrounds affect us at work, rather than pretending they don’t affect us
- You recognize we all have biases, and work to grow past them
- You intervene if someone else is being marginalized
- You accomplish amazing amounts of important work
- You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you
- You make your colleagues better
- You focus on results over process