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Sam Verschooten
20 Apr 2013 - 5 min read
Do it yourself: Company Values
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So far 2023 has been insanely busy at Hatch and, as it usually goes, most non-business critical tasks got pushed to the background. Case in point: the first draft of this blog started out with “Wow, I can’t believe it is 2023 already! I hope you all got to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones and are looking forward to an exciting new year”. By now the message is a bit outdated but that does not make it less sincere.

Traditionally we start each new year with a joined session reflecting on our Company Values, and this year was no exception. With this article I want to give everyone an insight into our process, thinking and culture, Enjoy reading.

Kicking things off

We started this year’s session with a great talk from Jeff Lawson, it does an excellent job at explaining the value of company values. Something which in my experience doesn't come natural to most engineering groups. He takes a rather fluffy concept and turns it into something down-to-earth and real. Best watch it now as there are spoilers ahead

With that video the tone was set: 'Your company already has a culture and values, best write them down so they are (more) in your control'.

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Three concepts in Jeff's talk helped us structure our thinking around values.

With these three statements in mind we invited all Hatchlings to a blitz session. “Quickly write down a bunch of concepts/words/phrases that jump to mind when you think about Hatch”. The time-pressure is important as it helps surface the most honest answers and avoids filters.

The first batch of post-its where very diverse but also very relatable. Some described the way we collaborate with each other (process), others immediately jumped to our working practices (product) while many more focussed on common features they recognise in their coworkers (people). Everyone presented their ideas and we went through this same cycle four times.

As the pile of post-its grew we repeatedly asked everyone to dot-vote the ones we collectively recognised and wanted to reinforce while also filtering out the ones we found less inspiring or recognisable (food for our next retrospective not for our values exercise).

Amongst the ones that survived, a few clusters clearly stood out. Focussing on each cluster we found the word that bound them together. ‘Partner, Challenge, Empower, Flexible, Down-to-Earth, Knowledge, Ownership, Fun’. At a first glance these might sound very run-of-the-mill yet to our team they already started to carry a special meaning.

Give them time to Hatch

At this point we moved all post-its to a whiteboard in the middle of our office, clearly putting them on display. Over the next few days we invited every hatchling to decorate the whiteboard with power phrases (mantras?) that best described/conveyed the idea/message of each cluster. By the end of the third week our whiteboard was bursting with one-liners.

It only took one more group discussion to cull the list down to only eight items. With this set, it feels we have reached a good balance between people, product and process. Collectively they do a good job at expressing what we look for in our colleagues and how we want to collaborate with each other as well as with our clients.

I guess all of these speak for themselves, we have tried to express them in a way that they cover enough scope while also not being too generic or high-level. So far they have served as an excellent guidelines for our teams as well as a good introduction tool towards new hatchlings and clients.

Given that we are trying to double our flock this year (hatchlings get it?) , I am definitely looking forward to our 2024 values check-in.

Looking for feedback? Let's grab a coffee!
I love bouncing ideas around. Want to talk about product design, technical architecture or team structure? Anything goes!
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Sam Verschooten
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