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Culture co-creation: the global process of choosing Sinch’s values

Hello! For those who don’t know me, my name is Eva Fiskáare, and I live in Stockholm, Sweden with my husband and our son who is eight years old. I’m People Development Manager at Sinch and work with our culture, leadership development and diversity and inclusion. This is a global role with connection to people in all of the countries where we operate — from Sydney to Seattle. I truly enjoy my work!

Here at Sinch, our dream is to be #1 in the Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) market. On our way there, we’ve seen very rapid growth in recent years, largely thanks to acquisitions. This is an important part of our strategy, and we constantly have new fantastic people, technologies, and products joining us to make this dream come true.

Speaking of exponential growth, in just over a year we’ve gone from a company of around 700 people to more than 2,000 Sinchers — and we’re not stopping there. Each company that joins us brings its unique characteristics and ways of working, and thus, we are a combination of many of them in our daily lives. Sinch is currently spread across 48+ countries thanks to 15+ acquisitions, and to truly become one company, we need values that everyone within Sinch can commit to and live by.

When we asked around and counted, we found more than 35+ words and expressions describing our culture. We saw a need to align in order to create our one Sinch identity and give people a sense of belonging. Our values are like our North Star, a shared compass that helps guide our actions and behaviors, towards reaching our vision and supporting our strategy. We also know that a strong culture is an important enabler for creating high- performing teams that can deliver fantastic solutions to our customers.

To have an inclusive process, where we invited all our employees to co-create our new values, was a given from the start. After all, the company is made up of people, and our culture must reflect who we are, finding unifying factors as a team. I also think inclusiveness is a fundamental thing in our culture — we win together, an expression that actually became one of our new values!

To make this happen, we held more than 30 workshops, online due to the pandemic. Most of them in English and some in Spanish and Portuguese. It took some time to rethink the approach from the original plan to run face-to-face workshops around the globe, it’s not given how to make a workshop fun in a virtual setting. But in the end, I really think this was much better as we could have Sinchers from many different countries in the same workshop, and people who probably wouldn´t have met otherwise now got the chance to connect with each other. Besides connecting people and setting the foundation for our common new values, the workshops helped with the integration of new employees joining from the recent acquisitions.

About 1200 new value suggestions were documented in the Sinch Value platform and then analyzed by our partner based on AI and NLP. After crunching the data, we presented it to our group management team who made the final decision, and we decided on four new values.

In February 2021, we ran a big kick-off with all our 2,000+ employees across the globe and presented the company’s priorities for the year — and our values were the common theme. In other words, when talking about our strategy, we also talked about how to execute it — by having our vision in mind and living our values.

The new Sinch values and their adaptation to reality

After we had documented and carefully reviewied all the suggestions, we arrived at these four values for Sinch’s joint culture:

· Dream big: We make the impossible possible by dreaming big to solve our customers’ problems and improve their businesses. Great things happen when we dare to challenge the status quo and find creative new ways to wow them. Driven by curiosity, we believe there is no such thing as failure, only continuous learning, and development. Having big, crazy, ambitious goals drives our success.

· Win together: Great teams work faster and better together — creating meaningful impact for customers. Together as one global team, in close collaboration with our customers, we embrace diversity, meritocracy and care about every single individual. We build trust through open and honest relationships. It’s all about the team: being inclusive, respectful, and sharing our knowledge to empower all for personal growth. We collaborate, have fun and are stronger together.

· Keep it simple: Sinch means simple and easy. It’s how we want customers to feel when dealing with us: uncomplicated, down-to-earth, and useful. Things stay simple when you are honest, open and act with integrity. Cut the fluff and talk straight! This also means spending our time and money wisely on things that really count. Eyes on the horizon, feet on the ground.

· Make it happen: We make things happen and make them matter — for our customers and the world. We are “doers” who value getting results and don’t overthink matters. We stay accountable for our actions, apply the highest ethical standards to set ourselves apart and always deliver. If we’re not making an impact, we rethink the approach. Structure helps us, bureaucracy and excuses do not. No putting things off — let’s get it done now.

Every Sincher was invited to be part of the co-creation of our new values, and it’s now up to all of us to live by them. To begin with, we’ve embedded our values in our people processes, such as our performance conversations and as a basis for salary criteria. Still, I think the biggest impact happens when we reflect on our everyday tasks, highlighting how we succeed in living up to our values, and challenging ourselves when we don’t. Creating a culture depends on everyone’s behavior, how we treat each other and our clients, how we communicate, and also what we don’t do. Culture is in one way very difficult to create, because everything matters. However, it’s also very easy; act and communicate aligned with our values and you are home- safe. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, but to put into words things that we haven’t yet done is also a way to be authentic, and one first step to dream big, right? :)

And a few last words: don’t be afraid of running workshops virtually. It takes a little bit more creativity and ideas to get it right; however, in a global setting when travelling might not be an option, it makes people connect in a great way. And it really was great fun!

Eva Fiskaáre, People Development Manager

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