As previously described in the Value Creation Model, people’s beliefs about others, like colleagues, customers, etc. and beliefs about relevant systems, like budgeting processes, product development, etc. deeply influence their actions which in turn are intimately tied to value creation. Therefore, being mindful one’s beliefs and perceptions greatly impacts the progress of a business. In this blogpost, I will provide a window into a common set of beliefs we share at Northern.tech You may call it the Northern.tech credo or belief system!
Find value in the purpose of the business
Northern.tech’s purpose is “Secure the world’s connected devices”. You should find meaning in this purpose and believe in it. Feeling that your contributions are indeed making the world a safer place should motivate and drive you forward. Our purpose in essence should intrinsically motivate you. If this is not the case, you are probably better off contemplating meaning and purpose for yourself and seeking other opportunities that better align with who you are.
Do not pretend to be anyone, but yourself. If something feels wrong, don't do it! Be the same you are at home with family and friends as you are at work with your colleagues, customers, partners and vendors. Other than dressing appropriately and respecting your surroundings, wear clothes, hairstyle, outfits that portray the real you! In a similar vein, always speak and act honestly. We value authenticity like no one else in our people!
Treat people as equals
People are the humans constituting our business and include colleagues, partners, vendors and customers. We should treat them all equally and with respect. Taking good care of our partners, customers and ecosystem in general will serve us well and is as important as the way we treat ourselves and our colleagues.
Always plan for success. Assume things will go the way you want them to. Our glasses are half-full, not half-empty. Try not to worry about tomorrow, but rather enjoy the day today and focus on what you can do now - live in the present. Most worries never play out anyway :-)
Believe in the good in people
We should assume people are genuinely good. Trust actions to be conducted in good faith. Micromanagement and negative suspicions about others drains energy from everyone involved and seldom leads to positive results. Assume actions made by your colleagues are in the best interest of the company. In short give people the benefit of the doubt.
We should trust all people. Prove your trust through actions and communication. Trust is easily reciprocated. The natural openness and free flow of information that follows trust will enable us to move faster and swiftly. Trust also leads to genuine actions and communication which will make our day more joyful and productive.
Share the value you produce and spread the knowledge you possess. The more open you are, the easier it will be for others to understand your intentions, learn from your work and respect you. In an autonomous and open organization like ours, access to information is essential to sound decision making. A transparent culture ensures decisions are always based on the fullest available information and knowledge possible.
Evolve and avoid procrastination
Think of business like life and nature itself. It goes up, down, left and right and changes mostly occur in small incremental steps, not drastic ones. Like cells in the body gradually evolve and plants grow, so should we. We want to build a solid repetitive business (Boeing Dreamliner) and not a high-risk all in the red business (New Horizon Pluto Missions). We shouldn’t make plans far into the future, we shouldn’t make drastic changes unless absolutely needed. Divide work up into small consumable chunks, not large unsurmountable blocks. Smaller frequent changes always outsmart large infrequent ones*. Like life, business is unpredictable. No one knows where we will go, so let’s just embrace the uncertainty and enjoy the twists and turns and use the opportunity to evolve across multiple dimensions. Failing as well as success is fine, but act fast, always learn, and look forward.
Be and enable others to be autonomous
Dependencies can be inherently complex and often prevent growth. We want to build a dynamic, enjoyable and hugely prosperous business. The only way to scale and attract smart people is to let go in order to unleash creativity and allow for autonomous behavior. From the smallest possible unit in our business to the largest, we should seek autonomy. Autonomous people, products, processes, teams, lines of business and business units. Let it all evolve naturally.
Don’t be naive and act decisively
Our operating model and belief cannot tolerate misfits. If trust is broken, transparency misused, or we see behavior deliberately going against what we believe in collectively and what we seek to build we shall act promptly. Our open and inviting way of operating stands fragile if not adopted by all of us, or abused by even a few amongst us. Partners, customers as well as employee and others should immediately be terminated to protect ourselves and our culture. Always give people a chance to explain, but show no mercy if things are not quickly fixed, and learned from.
Grow the number of teams, not the size
Rather than growing in size, we should split into more teams/units. Just like cells in the body split, so should the business. No single team should become too large in size. A maximum size for any team at any time is probably around 9 people. Everyone should know their team members well and not be alien to any of them. Instead of having one large product organization, we will have multiple. Instead of having one large engineering team, we will have multiple. Instead of having one large sales-team, we will have multiple. We shall grow horizontally, not vertically.
Roles should describe responsibilities and expectations sought to be fulfilled. Noteworthy individual achievements and contributions helping colleagues and business achieve their goals should be used to decide seniority and decision power. Titles are cosmetics in nature and for external use only, and anyone is allowed to use any title they like. Please update your Linkedin profile to hold a title that makes you proud and content.
Seek collective wisdom
Seek wisdom and knowledge of trusted parties. First of all, others might bring some good points into your decision process. Secondly, making a decision that goes against a large majority probably calls for some extra rounds of thinking. Using google forms is an elegant and efficient way to gather feedback quickly. You decide, but be humble and aware of the collective wisdom around you. It will serve you well.
You don’t have to stare into pixels to work
Pay attention to being effective (doing the correct things), not only efficient (doing things correctly). There is probable no correlation between frequency of the number of key-presses or hours looking at a monitor and the amount of value produced. By working proactively, stepping “out” and contemplating improvements, or solving a concrete challenge, we can avoid double-doing, or worse wrong-doing. Humans should work smart, and should leave the speed thing to computers. We encourage coffee breaks and frequent walks or activities outside of office to think things over. Invest in that extra conversation with other stakeholders to ensure future alignment.
The journey is the goal
Life is today, it is now. At any point, if the business is abruptly shut down, or we move on to something else, we should be able to look back and find great value in the work we did. Ideally, we would have done most of the same things over. They all made sense. We contributed to doing good, and it made us feel good. There is no end-game for this company. We exist to make a difference today by contributing to a more secure world.
There are many ways to Rome. Adjust process, not people
We should adjust our internal and external processes to adjust to people's needs and ambitions, not the other way around. If someone wants to improve in certain areas, let’s work to find ways to accommodate this wish as opposed to the traditional thinking of shoehorning people into existing (highly optimized) processes. We can succeed in securing the world’s connected devices in n ways, and the strongest guide defining our paths should be the people and their beliefs.
The first step in becoming successful and achieving our goals is to think big. Everything we do, we should have ‘bigness’ in mind. Assume our company is going to be wildly successful in everything we do. How will we then do things? Assume infinite resources and absence of friction. How would you then go about the challenge at hand?
Ease of use
Being in the business of helping other achieve their goals, ease of use comes first. We should be the easiest organization to deal with, from selling to product on-boarding, usage and documentation to customer support. We want our brand to be associated with delightfulness.
Update March 2018:
Expect common sense
The greater the autonomy the greater the need for common sense. Instead of writing down rules and establishing formalities, we expect the use of common sense. The internal GPS in all of us shall be the main rule book of the company.
Think like an owner
When making decisions act as if you are the sole owner of the company. Seek to act in the best interest of the company, not yourself or a single group of people.
Don’t tolerate problems
Problems won’t go away of themselves. Face problems head on and work to resolve them as quickly as possible. Lasting problems impact morale negatively. Always use the 5 WHYs to ensure addressing the root cause of problems, not only the symptoms.
(*) read more about this in the 'Continuous everything' blogpost