Our Cultural Values at Crew
Two years ago, when we started the company and before we hired our first employees, I wrote this in a post addressed to prospective candidates:
You never have the opportunity to define the culture as effectively as you do when you’re making your first few hires… let’s get together and talk about what it would mean to be employee #1, 2 or 3. Of course you’ll have to answer interview-type questions too, but let’s make sure we spend just as much of our time discussing what we want it to be like working here. I know chatting about it thoughtfully might help lead to great success and an even greater source of happiness in our lives.
Having just passed 20 employees, I can tell you that I’m even more convinced of what I wrote. In the weeks following my post, we hired several people who will forever be founders of what our culture is today and if we’re lucky, what it will be like in the future.
I didn’t set out with a preset notion, at least consciously, of what type of culture I wanted to create. Instead, our culture solidified because of those early hires and the people we subsequently hired together. This early team and the others we hired together are among the most talented and special individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
When you put people together on a team, they’ll naturally develop their own way of working together. Doing so long enough, those ways will become generally known to all. We decided to spend a day as a team talking about what motivated us and what we stood for. From there, we crafted a written version of our cultural values so that we’d create shared clarity about our expectations of each other.
These are our cultural values:
It’s such a powerful quality to be empathetic. In it’s most important example of how empathy has served us well, it’s quite clear that much of the progress we’ve made has come from an obsession we have as a company to hear our customer.
As important as that is, no amount of success is ever sustainable unless the growing team works well together and this is one way we shine as a team. Better understanding each other’s perspectives, each of our unique talents, has enabled us to more fully trust each other. We don’t always agree with each other, but we are each respectful and flexible — our perspectives are adaptable as we learn more, and when we disagree, we meet people where we are. Most importantly, we take an honest and dedicated interest in each other.
A Scientific Approach
I once tweeted “Ideas are meant to be tested, not judged”. I live my life in a consistent state of brainstorming new ideas. In a brainstorm, there are no bad ideas. In real life however, there are comparatively better ideas and we try to use sound scientific principles to help us to force-rank the ones worth working on.
Good science starts with a growing shared pool of knowledge. To create this, we make it a focus to maximize what we can learn versus how much energy we expend to gain knowledge. We share our learnings far and wide — silos are friction to progress. A transparent culture isn’t just desirable, it’s imperative. And it’s one of my primary OKRs as CEO to create shared context amongst all employees. With everyone having shared context, no one will object illogically to our plans and everyone draws from a similar base to contribute ideas.
We have an agreed framework upon which we expand our pool of knowledge. Do you remember the steps of the Scientific Method you learned in science class? I never forgot: Question -> Hypothesis -> Experiment -> Analysis -> Conclusion. A good experiment is designed within this process and nothing contributes to our collective knowledge that can’t be verified though these simple steps.
Pride of Craftsmanship
As long as I can remember, my dad has always taken on a wide range of woodworking and home improvement projects which he completed with his own two hands. After working hard, whether repainting a wall or adding on a whole new room, a project always ends in the same way: He pulls up a chair, opens a beer and just sits there, basking in the pride of his handiwork. I inherited this spirit from him and can frequently be spotted, as releases start to roll out, sitting back and watching user reactions the first time they interact with our latest creation — it’s one of my jobs most joyful moments. My father taught me that it’s hard work to make something that you’ll truly be proud of and there’s no substitute for pouring your passion into your work and paying attention to the details.
Whether your craft is woodworking, product design, mobile engineering or sales, we believe in making something you’re proud of and just as importantly, that you you should have relentless focus on improving your craft.
Great craftsman and craftswoman start their careers as apprentices. Over time, they hone their crafts to such a point that they take apprentices on themselves. The journey to improve one’s craft is never complete as the act of teaching others actually magically accelerates the teacher’s own expertise. We try to be mindful of this every day, offering mentorship when it makes sense, but always trying to seek out what others can teach us.
Touch Over the Speed Limit
We’re a startup and that means we’re burning cash. Most founders I know obsess about their runway, as well they should — one of the CEO’s most important jobs is to make sure a startup never runs out of cash. But I always rejected this as missing the big picture, the notion that most people measure their runway in units of time (years, months, hopefully not weeks, etc). When you measure runway in units of time, your only levers for change are reducing expenses (or maybe raising more money).
For me, I think of runway in terms of the number releases we have left together. Releases are the true unit of progress with every release being better than the last (we know because we measured it, remember we’re scientific). Every release brings us closer to the critical mass that make the reaction self-fueling. Thinking about our runway in terms of releases gives us more levers. We can work faster and think differently about prioritization. Most importantly, we feel the urgency to get the app in the hands of users, because releases aren’t progress until we learn how users react.
Just how fast can we go? We wouldn’t adopt Facebook’s “move fast and break things” or we might cause firefighters to not know where to drive their trucks, first responders to not be able to communicate and people might miss their shifts/work, putting their jobs at risk. So we think a “touch over the speed limit “ is right — fast enough that everyone feels the urgency but not so fast that we are driving recklessly.
These are our values. They guide us on how to work with each other and who we want to add to the team. Do these values feel like your values? You should contact us — we’re hiring.