More than just buzzwords
According to the Cambridge Dictionary corporate culture is “the beliefs and ideas that a company has and the way in which they affect how it does business and how its employees behave”. Every company, regardless of how mature it is, has its own company culture and underlying core values. These values provide employees with a guiding framework that applies to their way of working. They describe how to best interact with and what to expect from each other. While important for every organization, it is even more essential for companies working remotely as absorbing the ‘unwritten rules’ and values of working together in ‘water cooler’ talks rarely happen.
Early on, our co-founder and CEO Mirko Novakovic saw the importance of defining our core values in order to smooth the transition from early stage startup to hyper growth startup. When we started this process, Instana was approximately half our current size. All colleagues knew each other even though they were spread out across North America, Japan, Europe, and beyond. As Instana continues to grow, this will become more difficult to maintain.
The task was clear – but we didn’t want to select some artificial values from a standard list and announce them as ours. Together with an executive coach we conducted interviews company wide, from C-level management to individual contributors across all teams. Listening to their views and ideas to learn what’s important and unique to their work at Instana. After compiling all the input and information collected, the initial draft of values was ready and aligned with the management team.
What stood out to me at this point was that we live a high level of transparency and involvement of employees at Instana. So this could not be the final set. We strongly believed that we would not have come this far on the road of success if our company was not already sharing and living the same values. To get an authentic check on our idea of values we invited all colleagues to send us their personal value stories and asked them to contribute to the process. Thanks to all teammates who took time for this and shared their value stories and photos. What was incredible: The statements and stories went perfectly with our initial draft of values. It proved we were on the right track and had a good idea of the core values we need to continue living at Instana.
Our 5 core values: Collaboration, Transparency, Innovation, Fail Fast, Diversity
You can hold them in one hand:
We are aware that these values are not written in stone. We expect them to shift as our company is growing and developing. A great company culture is a constant work in progress, so we need to always have our core values in mind in everything we do. They give all of us at Instana the support and guidance for our daily interaction with colleagues, customers and other stakeholders – even if we don’t see them face to face every day as we work remotely around the globe.