An enduring culture

A strong-willed individual can affect change within an organization, but it takes a strong culture to make that change enduring. Culture transcends the individual and permeates into every crevice of the organization, guiding behaviors and ultimately the trajectory of the Company. This is why culture is so important, and why it is critical to get right. Pipeline’s culture is derived from our Purpose and Core Values:

Purpose

Pipeline’s highest level purpose is to promote joy in the lives of our team members. Ultimately it’s joy we’re all seeking, and we have embedded that at the core of our team.

To promote joy in the lives of our team members

Core Values

Value What it means
Treat our customers well, treat our team members better The focus of this value is not on treating our customers well (which, of course, we do), it is on TREATING EACH OTHER EXCEPTIONALLY WELL. Before we can build a great Company, we must first build a great team, and to do that it is critical that we constantly strive to be kind, generous, thoughtful, helpful & genuinely supportive towards each other.
Governed by productivity, not bureaucracy Bureaucracy is an attempt to govern those who are either unwilling or don’t have the judgment required to govern themselves. Let’s build a team of committed, intelligent, thoughtful & collaborative team members whose goal is to contribute towards building something great. With the right people on board, we do not need (or want) bureaucracy.
Suffocate chaos, promote order There is little value in information; information is everywhere. There is great value, however, in ORGANIZED information. Let us bring order to chaos. Let our minds, our surroundings, and our digital environments reflect our commitment to order.
Prevent surprises We sell our services by earning trust. Nothing kills trust more quickly than surprising the other party (whether they be the customer or internal team members) with something they were not expecting. This, of course, is specific to the context of “bad” surprises (going over budget, not delivering something on time, deviating from a pre-agreed course, etc) – good surprises are okay 😀

Philosophies

Guiding Principles & Supporting Behaviors

Many companies have policies, which often start out as well-intentioned courses of action but all too frequently become the “easy” way to (attempt to) force certain behaviors. “Easy” because anyone can write down a new policy (or rule) and “attempt” because the only person who can truly govern behavior is one’s self.

Our approach at Pipeline is to use guiding principles and supporting behaviors as an alternative to the traditional paradigm of policy as often as we can. Guiding principles are the “whys” behind the behaviors we encourage. They are the adult version of policy, and serve as the mechanism through which a balance of individual judgement and personal responsibility are given to team members at Pipeline.

Guiding principles define the high-level “why”, and supporting behaviors provide actionable guidelines for achieving the principles. The difference between supporting behaviors and policy/rules is that team members are empowered to, based on their own judgement, circumvent these behaviors if they don’t make sense in the context of a particular situation to achieve the guiding principle. In the end, achieving the guiding principles is what we really care about, not necessarily the supporting behaviors.

INVITATION, NOT COMPULSION

No adult wants to be treated like a child and compelled to action. We recognize that compulsion breeds contempt and resentment. At its best it does not build trust; at its worst it erodes trust. At Pipeline, we strive to treat adults like adults. Team members are invited to contribute, not compelled to do so. For example, instead of commanding “you have to work over the weekend so we can finish the project on time”, team members are expected to communicate requests as invitations: “would you be open to working over the weekend so we can finish the project on time?” (not that this is a common request…)

Of course, we all have our agency to say no to a request, so what happens when team members choose to decline requests that are legitimately important to the success of the Company? This struggle between freedom and responsibility is critical to the development of the individual, and an important part of our culture. Over time, those who thrive finding the right balance for themselves and for the Company will grow and advance at Pipeline, while those who do not will eventually move on. And that is okay.

PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY

Our number one job as members of Pipeline is to take care of one another (core value #1). There can be no joy without safety, so we must always have each other’s backs and cultivate an environment in which people feel safe to say what they feel, be vulnerable, and act genuinely without fear of discrimination or retribution. There are many ways (i.e. supporting behaviors) we can foster this safety:

  • Gratitude mentions – when a team member does something that is helpful, kind, impressive, appreciated, or otherwise deserving of praise (including, maybe even especially, little things) be eager to give them a “gratitude mention”; this can be done in public or in private (in public is encouraged so the entire team is uplifted) and is often done during morning huddles; anyone on the team can (and should) give gratitude mentions, it is NOT something that just “management” does
  • Use your kindergarten skills – say please and thank you often, be quick to apologize, smile, say hello to each other, share, etc
  • Giving “points” – a fun and playful way of recognizing someone’s accomplishments; what is the difference between giving points and gratitude mentions? Maybe nothing…it’s just another way to support and have fun with each other; sometimes we even take points away (but only in a fun and light-hearted way…never as a real punishment)
  • Look for opportunities to help each other – for example, if someone is struggling with a design, take 30 minutes and offer to brainstorm a few solutions together; or, if you get the sense that a team member is in a cloudy headspace be brave enough to ask if they’re feeling all right and if there is anything you can do to help them

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