When Paul and I started ConductorOne in fall of 2020, one of the first questions we asked ourselves was, “What kind of a company do we want to build?” Were we going to be fully distributed forever? What was our culture? How did we want our fellow employees to conduct themselves? In those early days, we spent as much time contemplating these questions as we did the market and the product.
We knew that early decisions become institutionalized. Bad habits are hard to unwind. We wanted to be intentional from day one, especially about our company values. They set the guard rails for your company by guiding who you hire, how you expect people to work, and how you interact with your customers. If evangelized correctly, they should be used in everyday decision making.
So we put pen to paper, first the two of us, and then with the early team, defining our values. Without further ado, here they are:
ConductorOne’s Company Values
#1: Be Deliberate
Intentionality and scientific thoughtfulness produce superior results.
We believe that a concrete plan with imperfect information is always better than no plan with perfect information. Intentionality provides clarity. Clarity generates alignment and shared understanding. Shared understanding allows diverse teams and customers to share common goals and to work together to solve problems.
In a remote-first world, being deliberate is even more important. Intentionality prevents miscommunication and ensures that everyone (employees, customers, investors, etc.) is on the same page.
#2: Show Kindness
Be direct, be honest, be nice.
No one likes working with jerks. It’s exhausting and it costs energy that could otherwise be channeled into improving our products, building our team, and helping our customers. We believe in mutual respect, and that every person, regardless of title, background, role, race, gender, religion, or ability, deserves to have their opinions, time, and work respected.
We don’t conflate showing kindness with patronization or acquiescence. It’s ok to disagree or have tough conversations in a respectful tone. We’re friendly to our employees, our customers, and our communities, and when we disagree or challenge ideas, we do it respectfully.
#3: Earn the Customer’s Trust
We exist to make our customers successful and solve their problems.
We do not exist, and will not succeed, without customers. Customer trust is earned, slowly and over time, through daily actions. When we are open, communicative, and responsive, we earn trust. When we focus on making our customers successful and solving their problems, we will earn their trust. When we demonstrate our competence and teamwork, we will earn their trust. We lose trust when we fail to follow through on our commitments or don’t help our teammates or customers.
#4 - Trust & Empower People
Employee agency will make you faster and more innovative.
A company comprising employees who are trusted and empowered, and who have agency to solve problems, will benefit from stronger innovation and happier customers. This does, however, come with a trade-off: accepting that people will make mistakes. Even with a deliberate mindset, we will all suffer from failed experiments, bad decisions, and ingrained biases. So, in conjunction with our agency, we accept responsibility to ask for help when we need it, to assume best intentions, and to criticize processes and systems, not people. We also strive to remove bias from how we trust and empower each other, and to cultivate diversity as a strength. Together, we fix our mistakes, learn from them, and ultimately make each other, and our organization, stronger.
#5 - Embrace Change
We see where we want to go and we iterate to success.
A company in steady state is “default dead.” Technology is evolving at a pace never before witnessed in history. Market forces are unsparing and ever shifting. If we want to adapt and thrive, we must constantly evolve our business and ourselves.
Embracing change also means gaining comfort with ambiguity. In a world that is in flux, we rarely have 100% of the information we need. Yet, a company that only makes decisions on perfect information is waiting too long. Rather than prevent progress because of unknowns, we simply acknowledge them and move forward.
We’re being extremely open with our values because we believe each and every person who joins us for the journey should opt-in to them. If these values resonate with you, and if you’ve ever been annoyed at how long it took for you to get access or updated permissions to a critical app at work, we should talk. Just reach out and tell us what resonated most with you and why.