Culture Code: Creating A Lovable Company

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An inside peek at how we work and what we believe at HubSpot.

This is part culture manifesto, part employee handbook and part diary of dreams.

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Culture Code: Creating A Lovable Company

  1. CULTURE CODE THE Creating a company we love. v28.16.03.11
  2. WHAT’S CULTURE? A set of shared beliefs, values and practices.
  3. Our CULTURE CODE is the operating system that powers HubSpot.
  4. WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT OBSESS OVER CULTURE?
  5. Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing. Customers are more easily attracted with a great product. Talented people are more easily attracted with a great culture. Click to tweet this quote.
  6. Culture doesn’t just help attract amazing people, it amplifies their abilities and helps them do their best work.
  7. CULTURE HAPPENS. Whether planned or not, all companies have a culture. So why not create a culture we love?
  8. Now, an observation…
  9. PEOPLE HAVE DRAMATICALLY CHANGED HOW THEY LIVE AND WORK.
  10. THEN NOW FOCUS Pension Purpose NEED Good Boss Great Colleagues HOURS 9-5 Whenever WORKPLACE Office Wherever TENURE Whole Career Whatever
  11. But although people have dramatically changed…
  12. Too many organizations operate as if they’re frozen in time.
  13. We are HubSpot.
  14. We dare to be different.
  15. This document is part manifesto and part employee handbook. It’s part who we are and part who we aspire to be.
  16. This document is part manifesto and part employee handbook. It’s part who we are and part who we aspire to be. When something is still aspirational (not yet true) we try to call that out.
  17. THE CULTURE CODE 1. We commit maniacally to both our mission and metrics. 2. We look to the long-term and Solve For The Customer. 3. We share openly and are remarkably transparent. 4. We favor autonomy and take ownership. 5. We believe our best perk is amazing people. 6. We dare to be different and question the status quo. 7. We recognize that life is short.
  18. 1 We commit maniacally to both our mission and our metrics.
  19. “Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.” TIM O’REILLY. Note: The O’Reilly conference room at HubSpot is named after Tim.
  20. OUR MISSION is to help organizations GROW. We want to transform how they attract, engage and delight their customers.
  21. We’re working to help the world GO INBOUND. It’s a more empathetic, human-friendly approach to marketing and sales. (It’s also demonstrably more effective.)
  22. We believe: Success is making those who believed in you look brilliant.
  23. Our commitment to our mission will help us earn the love of many. Our commitment to our metrics will help us earn the resources to further our mission. We are passionate about both.
  24. This dual personality of mission & metrics is uncommon. It’s partly what makes us DIFFERENT.
  25. This dual personality of mission & metrics is uncommon. It’s partly what makes us DIFFERENT. And also kind of quirky, in mostly good ways.
  26. 2 We look to the long-term and Solve For The Customer.
  27. SFTC.Solve for the customer Not just their delightion, but also their success.
  28. SFTC.Solve for the customer Not just their delightion, but also their success. Delightion is not a word, but it should be.
  29. FOR EVERY DECISION WE SHOULD ASK OURSELVES: “Selves, what’s in it for the customer?”
  30. WAIT. Does “Solve For The Customer” mean just giving more away for free? Wouldn’t that delight customers? NO. To delight customers in the long-term, we have to survive in the short-term. Because…
  31. Bankrupt companies don’t delight their customers.
  32. HubSpot has a professional sales team. How do we ensure we SFTC? How do we know we’re doing it right?
  33. We’re on the right path as long as we sell to customers that we expect to delight.
  34. We’re on the right path as long as we sell to customers that we expect to delight. This is the key. Don’t sell customers we’re not justifiably confident we can delight.
  35. 3 We share openly and are remarkably transparent.
  36. WE SHARE (ALMOST) EVERYTHING. We make uncommon levels of information available to everyone in the company (all 1100+ of us, and counting)
  37. WE HAVE THE MOST ACTIVE WIKI ON THE PLANET.* Examples of things we share and discuss: • Financials (cash balance, burn-rate, P&L, etc.) • Board meeting deck • Management meeting deck • “Strategic” topics • HubSpot Lore & Mythology (the funniest page on the wiki) *Unverified claim
  38. We protect information only when: It is legally required. Example: Information covered under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) It is not completely ours to share. Example: Individual compensation data
  39. WAIT. ISN’T HUBSPOT PUBLICLY TRADED? Yes. We had our IPO in Oct 2014 [NYSE:HUBS] Usually, publicly traded companies can only share detailed information with a select group of “insiders”. This didn’t fit well with our culture. So…
  40. We officially made every employee at HubSpot a designated insider.
  41. Power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it.
  42. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” -LOUIS BRANDEIS
  43. Everyone has open access to anyone in the company. It’s not an open door policy. It’s a no door policy.
  44. HUBSPOT SEATING HACK. Many teams go through a semi-random “seat shuffle” every 3 months. It helps mix things up a bit. It also circumvents a lot of office politics. We hate politics with the heat of a thousand suns.
  45. An important note on transparency…
  46. Transparency is about being open, not making decisions by consensus. We each have a voice, but not always a vote. TRANSPARENCY ≠ DEMOCRACY
  47. All this transparency doesn’t matter unless we do something with it. So…
  48. 4We favor autonomy and take ownership.
  49. Just because someone made a mistake years ago doesn’t mean we need a policy or rule. WE DON’T PENALIZE THE MANY FOR THE MISTAKES OF THE FEW. We only protect against big stuff.
  50. We don’t have pages of policies and procedures.
  51. USE GOOD JUDGMENT. Instead we have a 3-word policy on just about everything:
  52. Social media policy. Travel policy. Sick day policy. Buy a round of drinks at an event policy. Work from home during a blizzard policy. Our policy on all of these (and most other) things: USE GOOD JUDGMENT.
  53. customer > team > individual Here’s the cheat sheet on good judgment:
  54. team > individual Don’t solve for your personal interests to the detriment of the team. We loathe selfishness and love teamishness.
  55. customer > company When in doubt, favor solving for the customers’ interest over our own. Solving for customers’ interest is in our long-term interest too.
  56. The thing that matters most: RESULTS (i.e. are we making a positive impact?)
  57. Results matter more than the number of hours we work.
  58. Results matter more than where we produce them.
  59. Results matter more than how much vacation we take. (we have unlimited vacation)
  60. Our best results come when our decisions are insight-driven and data-powered. WE LOVE DATA.
  61. Debates should be won with better data not bigger job titles. We disfavor pulling rank. It happens sometimes, but we don’t like it.
  62. People want direction on where they are going… NOT micro-directions on how to get there. h/t Simon Sinek
  63. smart, self-motivated people clear, compelling vision + = Shared understanding around mission and goals. The discretion to do what best moves us forward. sustainable, scalable growth
  64. To support transparency and trust, we have to be super-selective about who we hire. It’s also important because…
  65. 5We believe our best perk is amazing people.
  66. DISCLOSURE: HubSpot is not a utopian workplace. We are not a perfect fit for everyone. And not every amazing person is a great fit for us.
  67. What makes someone a great fit for HubSpot? What makes them awesome for us? What does it mean to be
 HUBSPOTTY?
  68. There are 5 attributes that we value in people.
  69. Self-aware and respectful. HUMBLE.
  70. Wait. Doesn’t being humble mean lacking confidence? No. The very best people are self-aware and self-critical – not arrogant.
  71. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. C.S. LEWIS.
  72. When things go well, humble people tend to share the credit. When things go poorly, they tend to shoulder the responsibility.
  73. GSD (Gets Stuff Done) Measurably moves the needle. Immeasurably adds value. EFFECTIVE.
  74. EFFECTIVE PEOPLE: Are predisposed to action. They just do things. Have a sense of ownership. Are resourceful and always looking for leverage.
  75. Innately curious and constantly changing. Life-long learner. ADAPTABLE.
  76. Stands out in some way. Remarkably smart. Remarkably helpful. Remarkably energizing. *h/t to Seth Godin REMARK∙ABLE.worthy of being remarked upon*
  77. Open and honest with others and with themselves. TRANSPARENT.
  78. WAIT. Aren’t some people just private? This is not about sharing personal information. (What happened in Vegas should stay in Vegas) This is about sharing knowledge generously.
  79. HUMBLE EFFECTIVE ADAPTABLE REMARKABLE TRANSPARENT We like people with heart.
  80. HUMBLE EFFECTIVE ADAPTABLE REMARKABLE TRANSPARENT We like people with heart. Yes, “heart” is a bit cheesy. We’re a bit cheesy sometimes.
  81. We don’t just believe in these values, WE BET ON THEM. We recruit, reward and release people based on these values.
  82. example: THE J.E.D.I. AWARD Awarded to those that just quietly and selflessly do the right thing and move us forward. (J.E.D.I. stands for “Just Effing Does It”)
  83. Compromising on culture fit is mortgaging the future. It’s reasonable to want to hire for skills and experience when the need is painfully acute. It’s reasonable. But, it’s also wrong. The interest rate on culture debt is crushingly high.
  84. We’re a team, not a family. We hire, develop and cut smartly so we have stars in every position. +1 We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, so we didn’t.
  85. WE DON’T HIRE ASSES. (Truth: We try really, really hard not to hire jerks.)
  86. Don’t just hire to delegate. It’s tempting to bring people in that you can push off work you don’t have time for. Hire to elevate. Bring people in that can teach us something. Continually seek to raise our average.
  87. Our best people don’t just fit our culture, they further it.
  88. With great people comes great responsibility.
  89. We want to be as proud of the people we build as we are of the company we build.
  90. We believe in investing to increase individual mastery and market value.
  91. THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO PROGRESS AT HUBSPOT. 1. Gain mastery as an individual contributor and make magic. 2. Provide spectacular support to those who are doing #1. Confession: We have a lot of first-time managers at HubSpot. We’re working hard to develop them.
  92. How do you achieve mastery?
  93. 94 To achieve mastery you must dive deep. Talent is not enough. Mastery requires intense commitment.
  94. We’re doing a few things to help you learn…
  95. HubTalks: Learning From Leaders Clay Christensen “Innovator’s Dilemma” Eric Ries “The Lean Startup” Patty McCord Former Chief People Officer, Netflix Deval Patrick Former Governor, Massachusetts These are private talks given at HubSpot.
  96. Unlimited Free Books Program. Request a book – it magically shows up in your Amazon Kindle account. No muss, no fuss.No expense sheets.
  97. Unlimited Free Meals Program. Take someone smart out for a meal. Learn something. Expense it. No approval needed. Use good judgment.
  98. But the most important thing is to provide big challenges.
  99. Amazing people don’t like average goals.
  100. 6We dare to be different and question the status quo.
  101. Why do we care so much about being different?
  102. Many companies start out being exceptional. As they grow, there is a dark, powerful force that pulls them towards the average. If we regress to the mean, we fail. It’s that simple.
  103. Remarkable outcomes are rarely the product of modest risk.
  104. #inbound12 We encourage experimentation. Better to try and sometimes fail than to sit tight and… fail for sure.
  105. We don’t mind making mistakes, we do mind repeating them. Each mistake carries a lesson, we try to make sure we learn it.
  106. Speaking of being different…
  107. To think different we need to be different. We cannot all be the same. We want a diversity of backgrounds and beliefs. Confession: We want diversity, but do not yet have it. Still work to do.
  108. One of the most important ways we try to be different: THINK SIMPLE.
  109. 110 Conventional wisdom suggests more is better. More bells, more whistles. We believe simplicity is a competitive advantage.
  110. Things usually start simple…
  111. COMPLEXITY QUIETLY CREEPS IN. ITS TOLL LIES BELOW THE SURFACE.
  112. WHY DOES COMPLEXITY CREEP IN? It is often the quick, seductive answer to short-term issues. Fighting for simplicity and looking to the long-term takes courage and commitment.
  113. You cannot add simplicity in. You must take complexity out.
  114. 1 Like software… Organizations should be frequently refactored. Refactoring means to improve internal structure without changing external behavior.
  115. REFACTOR. • Stop generating unused reports. • Cancel unproductive meetings. • Remove unnecessary rules. • Automate manual processes. • Prune extraneous process. A handy acronym to remember these: SCRAP
  116. Fight for simplicity. We want HubSpot to be: EASY TO BUY. EASY TO USE. EASY TO LOVE.
  117. One more thing…(super-important)
  118. 7We recognize that life is short.
  119. So it should be fulfilling and fun. Work is a big part of life. So work should also be fulfilling and fun. LIFE IS SHORT.
  120. It’s important to take care of yourself. LIFE IS SHORT. Healthy @ HubSpot initiative: • standing desks • healthy snacks • fitness room • spontaneous laughter
  121. Always be caring and kind. LIFE IS SHORT. We encourage candor and criticism. It helps us grow. But remember,
  122. And full of tough choices. Always take the high road. LIFE IS SHORT. The view is better and it’s much less crowded.
  123. So, to recap…
  124. THE HUBSPOT CULTURE CODE 1. Mission and metrics. 2. Solve For The Customer. 3. Be transparent. 4. Take ownership. 5. People > Perks. 6. Dare to be different. 7. Life is short, make it matter.
  125. Onward and upward…
  126. Send your candid criticisms and love letters to: @dharmesh (one of our founders) reads every email.
  127. THANK YOU. Congrats for making it this far. Visit CultureCode.com to ask questions or join the open discussion. Yes, we’re hiring. Click the logo.

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