Why we wrote our values before we wrote a single line of code

The framework for how we work at Dala.

Joel Kang
Lightbulb moments, from Dala
4 min readOct 27, 2021


Workplace values guide employees to do their best work. They are the foundations of decision-making at a company, they influence product builds, and shape how team members interact with customers.

But why can’t they be much more than that?

If work is where we spend a third of our lives, then these values should be more deeply applicable to everything that we do. They should be less attached to where we work, and more intertwined with the people behind the work.

That’s why we started Dala by creating an authentic, representative, and people-facing value system.

Three approaches to values

Throughout our careers, we’ve both experienced a whole gamut of how companies construct and enact their values, and we see them falling largely into 3 categories.

First, there are theoretical values.

These are the ones that were pinned to the wall by the last CEO that now nobody ever talks about. Or they’re the ones that actually never existed: the founders were too absorbed with building the product and neglected to nourish the biggest influence on company culture.

Next are those values that have been so over-wrangled by well-meaning leaders that they no longer make sense to anyone else.

If ‘sail the boat to the stars’ or ‘jump through the hoops of life’ sound familiar, then those values are probably raising eyebrows for the wrong reasons. If workplace values need five pages of explanation before they become understandable to the team, then they are neither meaningful nor practical.

Finally, there are those values that genuinely provide a positive impact to a company and the products they create.

Delight, confidence, and pride are perfect examples of values with an emotional root and practical application. When the team is faced with a new problem, they can draw on these values to help them decide what’s right. Every decision, meeting, and interview is a space to amplify the values back into the company.

With those experiences in mind, we were conscious that we needed to get our values right from day one because it would impact how we made decisions, and determine the people and investors we brought on board.

Introducing Dala’s values

🤓 We stay curious

There’s always something about our customers, our work and ourselves that we won’t know about. People, technology and industries change continuously, so we must keep asking questions, adapt to the new and different, and commit to bettering our craft.

🤗 We take care

We go beyond thinking about productivity, and see our customers and each other as full human beings with different emotional needs. We take care of each other and ourselves to support and inspire the people around us.

😊 We show integrity

Our customers trust us with their knowledge, and our colleagues depend on us to do our best work. That’s why we strive to be self-aware, vulnerable and honest, so that we can be supportive of, and accountable to each other.

🧐 We are intentional

We will encounter many unknowns and grey areas in our journey. That’s why we listen and learn from diverse perspectives and experiences. We dream big, but stay focused on making the best informed decisions that can get us there.

🥳 We create joy

Dala is a different way of working. We serve customers who don’t expect us to help them; we amuse, surprise and delight our users; and we bring smiles to the people we work with.

They’re our values too

These values didn’t just arise in a vacuum, and they don’t only apply to how we work at Dala. They’re an extension of us as founders, and how we think and act in our own lives. They’re why we started Dala with each other in the first place.

We both know how crippling imposter syndrome can be, and we know too well the gloom of being overwhelmed by massive amounts of unstructured information.

So we get it. Having someone guide you through the murkiness of workplace knowledge is truly a blessing — but what a joy, if this guide is also someone you can trust, learn from, and laugh with along the way.

And that’s why we’re building Dala with curiosity, care, integrity, intention and joy at its heart.

We’re Hiring!

If these values are as personal to you as they are to us, come and join our journey to orchestrate lightbulb moments and help people do their most transformational work.

Learn more about us on LinkedIn and Otta. You can email careers@dala.ai with your CV or portfolio, and a thoughtful note.