The Value of Values
Write down what matters
When we started Lickability in 2009, we didn’t dream of writing mission statements or defining corporate values. We were a couple of high-schoolers in our parents’ houses, working on apps that we wanted to see on the App Store—and later, working on even more apps from our respective dorm rooms.
Lickability started as a side-project and has grown into a larger, more serious operation. Before we even hired our first employee, we realized that it might be a good idea to define what we actually value. How had we worked together over the last few years, and what did we want new folks joining our little team to carry forward?
Lots of corporate values we’d read were highfalutin and impractical. We wanted a document that we could actually use. Here are the values we came up with three years ago when we turned our passion into our full-time jobs that we still work by today. They’re short. They’re simple. And most importantly, we mean them.
Our Values (a.k.a. The Five Flavors of Lickability™)
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. Inessential complexity is bad design.
Pay attention to every detail. Take extra care even when it goes unnoticed.
Build and explain systems as explicitly as possible. Avoid cleverness.
Ask for help and offer it. We’re better when we work together.
Have fun. Make things that will help people be happier.
What do these mean in practice? An office full of whiteboards and pair programming sessions (especially when an engineer breaks their arm). Pitching in when your coworker asks you for help fixing a bug, building a desk, or breaking down cardboard boxes. Aiming for fun and delight in our products (like the sparkly animation when you buy colors in Pinpoint) and in our communication whenever it makes sense. Inviting people outside the team into our spaces for more perspective. Painting the back of the fence. Engineering our internal processes and code to be as simple and painless to work within as possible, and when we find something that can be better, like our 401(k) plan, putting in the effort to fix it.
Since we’ve codified these principles, the company has felt more unified in our direction and it’s a lot easier to break the occasional tie when we’re unsure of what to do next. We aim to stay in business for a long time to continue serving our clients and customers. As such, these values have to remain open to change with their needs and our experiences. Like almost everything we work on, I’m sure there’ll be a v2.0.
We’re always interested in what other folks and companies intentionally value in their work. Tell us about your values, either personal or professional.