Culture

People focused. Future thinking. Inventive.

Our culture and brand go hand in hand. After all, a business is what its people make it.

Newicon culture - juggling, guitar playing maniacs!

Our Culture

Our mission is to produce world class digital platforms and technologies that enable people to achieve great things.

Why we do it

We want to work with likeminded people and organisations who challenge, invent, and create. We have built our business on these three pillars that support everything we do.

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Future

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.

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People

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.

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Invention

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.

Learn more about our Brand Values >

How we do it

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

Culture Mantras

Our company mantras

In the modern office everything tends to be done with email which is essentially private first. It's the wrong way around! Default to transparency, this means all communications if possible aim to be available and open to everyone in the company. We encourage sharing of information when its possible. We are still working on the best tools and techniques to make this happen. Certainly centralised cloud systems help - which we build for our customers - but there is still a need for innovation in this space! Not only does this foster trust and responsibility throughout a company but its also golden for Marketing! There is no use putting up a corporate veneer people want to see real people. Doing real useful work. We have not quite mastered sharing all we do, it takes a lot of effort, but we are trying to work in a public transparent way by default. We just need some sort of robot AI that can watch what we are up to every day and share the good and useful bits with the world.
Want to change something. Go do it. No one ever gets a slap on the wrist for mistakes of action.
All our energy has to be focused on delivering and producing the best products and solutions for our customers. There is no room for politics. We keep our organisation flat and as self organising as possible. There are no ladders to climb, you are judged for your own worth independent of any artificial company grading or scoring system.
We believe in the simple not the complex. "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler" - Albert Einstein
This means don't sacrifice the customer experience because of bogus constraints. It's very easy to accidentally loose priorities - we see people do it often. Without customers you have no business. It's very important to be led by the customer - not what makes your company easier to manage, more effective to run.
Avoid the common pitfalls developers, and fresh faced professionals fall into by becoming dogmatic. Most concepts and ideas taken too far completely fall apart. Technology and much of life is about balance and compromise. Push an idea to its extreme to see where it falls down but always expect it to fail. There are always exceptions to any rule.
Think physics first principles. Boil things down to fundamental truths and reason up from there. Thanks Elon! We experience this a lot - people choosing technology before knowing what they want!
Safety is the enemy. Safety means consistent, boring, predictable, the same, safe, stagnant. The comfort zone is the dead zone. A business has to be new, fresh and world leading, it has to make an impact, it has to evolve and stay ahead. Change = challenging environment = learning = innovation = longevity and prosperity. It's pretty rare that a change will irreversibly damage the business, and most changes can be easily reverted. Therefore the biggest risk to a company, though it can be scary for some, is not embracing change.
Often constraints are wrong. Technical systems often end up representing the structure of the organisation, if there is a department, there is probably a matching technical interface. But is this a good design choice for the product? We organise our team around the product as much as is practical. Constraints need to be validated first then embraced second. The business should organise itself around the value stream - (Lean engineering 🤩)
Failure is an option. Seek knowledge through rapid failure! You don't get good at something by doing it right first time. We'd never learn anything if we had to get it right first time! Seek knowledge through rapid failure and experimentation.
If its a core skill or responsibility of Newicon then we prefer to build it rather than buy it. This can take longer and cost us more but we prefer to be the absolute experts in what we do and sometimes the only way to fully understand something is to build it. Things we don't know how to build ourselves make us uneasy. There is nothing worse than telling customers that the problem is another companies or vendors fault, or simply not being able to fix something because you come up against a brick wall from another vendor. However we refer to the 'pragmatic not dogmatic' mantra here - if the tech is easy or not something we find inspiring and it's better for our customers then buying is an option. Software development is the one profession that will pull in an entire airplane when all you need is a fan. Think of all that surface area of unused code. Unused code can become attack vectors for hackers and introduce more potential states for the application.
We love lean engineering and lean principles - ask why 5 times! What this means is we like to solve root problems - ask why until you get to the root problem and fix that! This relates to business issues, process issues and coding issues.
The world is changing fast, new technologies come and go - we must all be learning constantly in order to stay ahead and take advantage of opportunities. Furthermore we have to teach each other what new shiny things we have created and how they work. This is true of the organisation and the individual.
A Netflix mantra we love - the rare responsible person. Responsible people thrive with freedom and are worthy of it. We judge our success by the quality of our work not the time we spend on it
Routine tasks are boring. Doing the same thing twice is boring. Following a process is boring (if it gets in the way). Unlike big corporate thinking, if you automate your entire job, you will not be let go to reduce costs! You will be celebrated and free to work on the next big idea. And we have far too many ideas than we will ever have a chance to actually work on!! The more free time we have the more time we can invest in our big ideas - and there is never a short supply of those!
Coach and seek to be coached by others. We aim to all be educators and learn from each other as much as possible, as well as deliver fearless feedback.
Raw materials arrive at one end of the factory and fully formed car/spaceship/airplane comes out the other end. Any one can see that if the spaceship is half way through the factory then it is half complete! Car manufacturers even have moving production lines where the car is constantly moving whilst the various jobs are being done (value adding processes) to transform it into the finished article. This is a revelation in manufacturing. Instead though, most offices tend to batch things between departments grouped by their action. Each transition between a department adds movement, storage, communication and other waste to the process. For digital systems its often worse with people passing the product to each individual in the team - this causes even more problems, like, am I even working on the latest version? In a digital world we must aim to apply the same value measuring activities to digital and virtual products as we do physical ones. We must focus on the value stream, whilst we don't have physical factories we can visualise flows and provide shared portals into work being done.

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:

  • Use white boards
  • Create dashboards
  • Summarise complex problems on one A3 sheet
  • Create sensible visualisations for things requiring attention, i.e. Don’t show all 100 things working, show the 2 items big and red that have a problem
  • Use UI and UX skills to help create meaningful representations
  • Think in interfaces not implementations

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.

Team Values

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"

Judgement

  • 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

Communication

  • 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

Courage

  • 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

Curiosity

  • 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

Passion

  • 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

Selflessness

  • 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

Innovation

  • 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

Integrity

  • 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

Inclusion

  • 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

Impact

  • 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

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