This post originally appeared on Medium and focuses on how a strong philosophy can help scale a business.
Here at Timehop, enabling the talent on our team to be autonomous and aligned is crucial for our success and ultimately allows us to go above and beyond as a group. As simple as it sounds, we strive to maintain this dynamic by working in tandem with our core values. As mentioned in another post by Jake, building frameworks for decision making is a critical part of scaling an organization. Core values act as our philosophical code of conduct. They help us navigate new situations, unpredictable problems, and tough decisions as our team grows.
At the end of last year, Benny and I embarked on a mission to suss out what we really view as existing core values at Timehop. Here’s where we landed.
TIMEHOP CORE VALUES
1. Delight Users (learn what people like and what makes their day)
Example: We know that our user community (and our team!) struggles with “exes and feels” in Timehop on the reg, so for Valentine’s Day our Product team provided users the choice to avoid #Valentimehop if they weren’t prepared for the lovey dovey overload.
2. Ship early, ship often (not trying is worse than failing)
Example: We had a hunch recently that our nostalgia obsessed community will love crazy vintage filters on their old school pictures. Our design and engineer teams immediately launched a v1 of Polaroid and Gameboy filters to a small cohort of users. Maybe we’ll keep the feature, maybe we won’t! Depends on if our users validate that hunch. Either way we’ll learn.
3. Trust trumps rules (we don’t have a lot of rules because we trust our individuals to make decisions in the interest of the team).
Example: Sounds simple, but we don’t have a vacation policy. We trust (and encourage) you to take what you need, and when you do, you are a responsible colleague that communicates and makes plans with the team.
4. Always strive for better (have a higher expectation of yourself than your teammates do)
Example: Individual heart2hearts and team level retros are scheduled times where we can all sit down and talk about what is making us happy, sad, and confused. These are great for exposing where we can make improvements on an individual, team, and company level. You can’t take action on what you don’t know!
5. Be respectful (seek to understand before seeking to be understood)
Example: During a distributed work experiment in February we realized that the tone of text in Slack or email can be easily misinterpreted and rustle emotions. During our retro meeting we discussed how we should assume positive intent in these situations, but also feel comfortable reminding each other of this value.
These values all came from things that already existed inside Timehop’s people, product, and process. We simply just did our best to put words around them!
HOW THEY HELP US SCALE
1. Feedback. Timehoppers can use Core Values to respectfully call out a colleague if someone is violating our core values and it upsets them. This builds trust and it allows us to speak more freely and fearlessly with one another.
2. Our weekly All Hands has a “Shout Outs” slide. If a Timehopper is living and breathing our core values we give the company an opportunity to high five them publicly.
3. We use questions about our core values in interviews and performance reviews. (Something like: “What’s the last mistake you made, and how’d you improve from it?”, or “Do you have any examples of you bettering yourself, the team, the product?” ). These help us assess emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
4. Tough Choices. Having a code to fall back on allows individuals to think through difficult decisions (Do I share this information or not? How should we prioritize this initiative?).
AT THE END OF THE DAY
Companies are just a group of people, and a group of people is just a community. Strong communities that survive adversity and advance together are tight knit, know what they stand for, and act in unison because of it. This is what Timehop stands for, for now, until we evolve to make them even better (see #4)!