Every company has a culture. The only question is whether or not you decide what it is. Jason Cohen

If you’re thinking about working here, or you’re starting to work here, it’s important that you understand what we care about and what we aspire to.

If you’ve been working here for a while, it helps to remind yourself of those same things. Why are we doing this? What kind of company do we want this to be?

Much of this is unoriginal to the point of banality. (In fact much of it is stolen outright from the culture decks of companies we admire, like Netflix, Buffer, Hubspot, and Valve.) None of that makes these truths less true or these aspirations less right for us.

  1. We’re enthusiastic and optimistic
  2. We don’t pretend
  3. We don’t have secrets
  4. We work for ourselves
  5. We win when our customers win
  6. We have each others’ backs
  7. We communicate with clarity
  8. We are very picky about who works here
  9. We react to trouble with pragmatism and calm
  10. We’re in this for the long haul

"Job Interview" comic at XKCD.com

1 We’re enthusiastic and optimistic

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements in life, when all we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about. Charles Kingsley

We’re optimists. We see the world improving before our eyes and that makes us happy.

We’re confronted with a huge real-world problem, and we’re in a position to do something about it. That’s a huge deal. Very few people find themselves in that situation in their lives, and we know that it’s a privilege.

So we each intend to put our whole being into solving that problem. We know we’re up to the challenge, and we’re invigorated and grateful for the opportunity.

While we’re at it we intend to make day-to-day life better for our customers, build a great company, craft beautiful and useful tools, pay our bills, and have fun. This is an AMAZING way to spend this portion of our time on earth.

2 We don’t pretend

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. Oscar Wilde

Pretending to be something you’re not is counterproductive. Just being true to the way things actually are requires much less mental effort, and is just a better way to live.

So as a company, we don’t pretend we’re bigger or more established or more capable than we actually are. We’re a small startup, not a big long-established corporation. This allows us to be nimble, creative, and innovative. So we celebrate being who we are instead of hiding behind a false front.

As individuals, we don’t pretend we know more than we do. If we don’t know much about a subject we don’t try to hide that; we do what we need to do to get the information, knowledge, or skills we lack. No one sounds more foolish than someone pretending they know something they don’t.

When we screw up, we don’t pretend that we didn’t screw up. We own it immediately and take steps to fix it.

3 We don’t have secrets

If you want people to make the same decisions you would make, but in a scalable way, they need the same information you have. Keith Rabois

You can’t manage a secret. Phil Horlock

We default to transparency. That means that unless there’s a very, very good reason to keep information private, we make it public.

  • We don’t have secrets from each other.
  • We don’t have secrets from our customers.
  • We don’t have secrets from the world outside.

We’re pretty sure that the keeping of secrets leave most people worse off most of the time. Like pretending, keeping secrets wastes mental energy that could be used more productively.

Transparency is more than not actively keeping secrets, though. It means that we make an effort to be open and transparent, even when it’s uncomfortable. So we have our conversations in the open as much as possible. We make mistakes publicly. When things are not going well, we don’t try to sweep it under the carpet or insulate people. We think through problems and iterate in front of everyone.

4 We work for ourselves

It's up to us to decide what DevResults will be. We listen to our customers, and at the end of the day it is up to us to organize their input and decide on priorities.

With regard to our colleagues, that means that the responsibility for deciding what to work on is ours. It’s not up to “the boss” because there’s no such person. We’re all grown-ups here. As long as we are all motivated and aligned in the same direction, we’re smart enough to figure out what our individual priorities need to be. We’re accountable to each other, not to the next person up the hierarchy.

We work at the times of day that make the most sense for what needs to be done.

We work where we’re most productive, wherever on the planet that might be. Having a distributed team is a tremendous advantage: We have a much bigger pool of talent available to us, and we individually have a lot of flexibility.

5 We win when our customers win

Solving for the customer is in the company’s long-term interest. It’s exciting when we land a new customer, but we haven’t really won until DevResults has actually made that customer’s life easier. We do whatever it takes to make customers succeed at using DevResults, whether or not it’s in our contract, because success is the only option. This doesn’t mean we do anything a customer asks; it means we make sure they are empowered to solve their own problems with our software.

Our eyes are on our customers, not on our competition (whoever that might be).

6 We have each other’s backs

We get things done. If a teammate asks us to do something, they can assume that the request has gone into an airtight system and won’t fall through the cracks.

If we need help from a teammate at 3 am, we know we can ask for it.

We don’t leave our team hanging. If we’re going to be out of the picture for any length of time, everyone knows about it well in advance and can plan accordingly.

7 We communicate with clarity

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. George Orwell

We are concise and articulate in our speech and in our writing.

We believe that writing well is a crucial skill, and that clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.

We say what we mean, simply and clearly. We don’t fill our website, our emails, or our agreements with inscrutable legalese, or with paragraphs of defensive ass-covering. We don’t use big words when small ones are available, or construct stilted formalities when plain language will do just as well.

We go the extra mile to provide context and instructions whenever we ask for each others’ time.

8 We are very very picky about who works here

First get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) before you figure out where to drive it. Jim Collins

Every hire should raise the mean of the team.

We are skeptical of the traditional hiring filters: Resumes, fancy degrees, blabbety-blah interviews. You have to show us your stuff before we’ll think about hiring you. If you’re an engineer, you’ll write real code while we watch. If you're in business development, you might pitch us on a piece of software, or propose a strategy for a solving a particular problem we have. If you’re a trainer, really teach us something.

For every minute you allow a person to continue holding a seat when you know that person will not make it in the end, you’re stealing a portion of his life, time he could spend finding a better place where he could flourish. Jim Collins

If we make a mistake hiring, we confront it and fix it right away. It’s only fair to the person in question, and to everyone else.

9 In difficult situations, we react with pragmatism and calm

Sometimes things go wrong. Maybe one of us makes a mistake, or we collectively make a bad decision, or bad things happen for reasons out of our control.

Even when things are going well, we might have to deal with growing pains or uncertainty or random unpleasantness.

In those situations, we don’t make things worse by creating unnecessary drama. We don’t freak out, or point fingers, or fall into despair. We look for solutions, instead of tearing our hair out about the problem.

If one of us screws up, we focus on how to fix things in the short term, and how the company needs to change to fix things in the long term: Do we need to tweak our processes? Design failsafes or redundancies? Adjust our culture?

And sometimes, we recognize that sometimes stuff just happens and there’s nothing we could have done to prevent it. We don’t create policies or rules just because something bad happened.

10 We’re in this for the long haul

Code for the long haul

We take the time to build solid software. We ship code that’s well thought out, self-documenting, and covered by tests, so that our future selves don’t want to shoot themselves when they have to work with it.

We don’t cut corners. We don’t copy and paste big chunks of our own code just to get’er done. We don’t commit crappy semi-coherent code at midnight. We know we’re going to be living with the code we write for a long time, so we take pride in doing things right.

We’re curious and open to better ways of doing things. At the same time, we don’t go chasing after shiny new things just to keep things interesting or just to feel cool.

People for the long haul

Sometimes we have no choice but to work long hours. But if we’re working overtime for months at a time, if we’re not getting enough sleep, if we don’t have weekends to recover and never take vacations, that’s a sign that something has gone wrong, and it’s time to figure out what that is. Burning the candle at both ends isn’t a viable long-term strategy. We can’t possibly be doing our best work if we’re not living healthy, well-rounded lives. So if we don’t have time to get exercise or rest up or socialize, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

A company for the long haul

We take great pride and enjoyment in helping development organizations. We’ve gotten this far without taking outside capital. Although we eventually may sell all or part of the company, we are not building this company in order to flip it.