I was writing a post on project management, and started writing about values instead, so I’ll finish this post, and save that other one for another day. You have to know where you’re going before you talk about how you’ll get there, right?
Recently, we found ourselves at a crossroads that led us to reexamine our values as a team. Our values don’t conflict, but being average at everything isn’t really where we wanted to be. When team members have different areas of passion, saying no becomes hard, and so we end up spending our time on many different things. As we’ve talked about how to become more effective as an organization, one of the items that came up is the question of where do we want to go.
We identified five different core values that influence our decisions:
- technology – creating and using powerful, advanced, and cool tools, languages, systems, and frameworks
- culture – being a workplace where our employees are passionate, engaged, and enjoy their work
- business – building a company that grows quickly and rewards our investors and team for their hard work
- product/design – achieving a great product, one that does what it should with elegance and beauty
- impact – making a big difference in a lot of peoples’ lives
Obviously all of these are very important, and what’s more, they’re all kind of related. A strong culture can lead to smart folks that build great tech (Google), strong product can lead to great business (Apple), and emphasis on technical excellence can lead to great impact (Twitter). I wonder how many of these a company be great at simultaneously – two?
Given that, my personal thought is that it matters less what you choose and more how you execute on your choice. Wanting to have great product, impact, culture, business, or technology, is not the same thing as having it, after all. God created us good at certain things, and bad (whether through lack of interest or skill) at others, and part of creating vision, both in life and in the enterprise, is recognizing what is achievable and doing your best to get there.
When we set out to start Astrid, we started with a product that helped people organize their lives. It was a product that I found incredibly helpful, and over the years, others have told us as much as well. Our company mission statement is to make a billion people happier, healthier, and more productive. After that? That’s what we talked about. Obviously we try to create a team with people who are ridiculously good at what they do – but as a team with limited resources, we’re just not able to do everything.
But, we’re going to do a few things ridiculously well, and that’s good enough for me.