3Box Culture: A Team, Community, and Company
When 3Box formed as a team last November, one of our initial goals was to establish extremely solid foundations about who we were, why we existed, and how we would operate.
Web3 is Different
As we were deciding how to best approach this process, the typical Mission, Vision, Values exercises seemed trite and felt less than directly applicable to our context. And while we’re committed to learning from the valuable lessons of what’s been done for decades in previous tech companies, we also realize that what we’re building at 3Box and within the broader web3 movement is different in certain very important ways.
- We are building networks, not just companies [eg Burninske]
- Building community is almost as important as building the core team [eg Nick Tomaino]
- We’re a diverse community of idealistic individuals with strong internal motivations
Our Approach to Culture
In the earliest days of 3Box, we noticed our team was working with high effectiveness and alignment, and with a culture and community that we loved. We wanted to make explicit what we were doing so that we could be intentional about carrying forward the aspects that were successful, while improving upon others. We decided we needed to clearly articulate three distinct aspects of our culture.
- Our Purpose as a Team: why would this group come and stay together
- Our Values as a Community: what core memes did we aim to embody in every action
- Our Principles as a Company: how would we work together to meet these goals
1. Team Purpose
Rather than crafting a standard mission or vision, we thought it would be more impactful to be extremely explicit about why each of us had come together to dedicate time to working on this specific project, and how these intentions fit together.
What brought each of us here?
Since the members of our team hadn’t always been a team, it felt foundational to first understand our individual journeys of how we arrived here. On our first team retreat we each shared how our life’s path led us into the technology industry, the crypto market, the identity space, and other related experiences.
We felt this exercise to be extremely valuable, and we have decided to carry it forward as new teammates join. It’s important to capture how each of us has arrived at this moment and context.
Purpose is the reason we exist as a team.
After reviewing the founding team’s individual paths and passions, we identified 7 common themes. A few examples included the desire to build a world-class product, continuous personal learning and development, and fostering strong community. While these may not have fit into a traditional company vision, by instead focusing on Purpose there was easily room to include them. Here is the Team Purpose that we arrived at:
We exist to provide social infrastructure that helps people build trust and connection online.
2. Community Values
While the purpose is our north star, there are many ways to navigate toward this future destination. Almost everyone can recount negative experiences on former teams where previous members held conflicting ideals, methodologies, and criteria for making decisions — resulting in various forms of dysfunction. All of these issues arise when strong values are not clearly set from the beginning, and used to guide day-to-day decisions and action. We were determined to excel in our values on 3Box from the very onset.
Some Things Matter More
At the first team offsite we forced ourselves to talk about difficult tradeoffs and make concrete decisions. This was an exercise in prioritizing against conflicting desires. Through this exercise in prioritization we found there were definitely things we clearly valued more as a team, as they relate to how we wanted to operate — in other words, our guiding lights.
Our values guide every decision we make as a team, and as individuals on the team.
Impact: How will this influence others and move the needle on our goals?
Community: How will this be interpreted, adopted, and spread by our community?
Access: How can this be made easy to understand, use, and spread widely?
Learning: What should we learn, and how can we grow from this experience
Intentionality: What considerations, perspectives, and tradeoffs should be considered in this situation?
Quality: How can this be done with care, attention, and pride, to deliver great outcomes?
3. Company Principles
We felt our Purpose and Values captured what we cared about most. We still wanted to take it a step further. We wanted to define, with more clarity, how these cultural aspects are put into practice on a day-to-day basis. Defining our operating principles, would allow us to work more effectively and harmoniously together — a critical aspect of any sustainable team.
As much as we love our work, and even consider it a passion, it can of course still be trying at times. As we’ve written before, working on teams is hard work: read our previous blog post on the topic. Great teams require norms and structures to hold things in place, to create harmony in the chaos, and to facilitate continued alignment at scale. Before designing these team agreements and structures (tools, processes, and policies), we recognized the need for operating principles to design around. In other words we had to ask ourselves, how do we want to work together?
Operating Principles guide how we work together.
These mindsets and behaviors are how we’ve chosen to design our company.
Ownership, over goals and results.
Pride in our craft, but no ego.
Good intentions, and trust in others’ good intentions.
Teamwork, helping each other achieve both shared and individual goals.
Active and honest communication, including constructive feedback.
Mental presence, with awareness of our affect on others in the moment.
Perspective, keeping an eye on what truly matters in the big picture.
Wu wei, staying in balance with the world around us, not forcing a path.
Joy, in our work and appreciation that we get to pursue curiosity.
Putting Principles into Practice
We will look to collaborate with people who resonate with and embody these principles, and we also design our team’s tools and process around them. Here are a few actual examples of how we put our principles into practice:
- We do Feedback Fridays every week to help teammates improve with compassionately honest feedback.
- Our *very public, open* Discord is configured to minimize team member distraction outside of specific collaboration times, while still remaining inviting to the broader community.
- We scope sprints in a way that enables us to deliver quality, high-impact epics.
- We formed a 3Box Book Club to dedicate team time for learning, talking, and connecting with each other outside of “work,” even remotely.
3Box is Growing
We marveled at how fluid and effortless teamwork was when 3Box was only four members, but we understand that things will undoubtedly become more challenging as we grow. We don’t see this as a negative, and we’re actually excited for the opportunity to grow in new ways. There’s much work to do to reach our goals. The world is full with so many brilliant and interesting people that can bring diverse ideas and backgrounds to our team — and we truly believe these future contributors are essential to helping 3Box achieve it’s Purpose and goals.
We’re actively looking to add new teammates who possess strengths and backgrounds that are currently underrepresented on our team today. If you are naturally peppy and upbeat, structured and disciplined, or empathetic and community-oriented — come talk to us!
If you feel that your path has led you to our purpose, our values are your own, and our principles resonate with how you work, please reach out: we’re hiring!
We’re friendly 👋and there are many ways to get involved.
Chat: 3Box Community Discord
Dev Feedback: #feedback on Discord
App Feedback: https://3box.io
3Box provides social infrastructure for web3. Integrate 3Box.js to instantly make your dapp more scalable, social, and human. Visit 3box.io to create your profile, github.com/3box/3box to dig into the code, or 3Box Discord to interact with our community. 3️⃣