Introducing MaxCDN’s Core Values: Who We Are Today, Who We’ll Always Be
February 24, 2015 | Whitney Cline
In February 2015, we finalized our company core values and made them public to our team and the world. This post will give you background on what inspired these values and what each of them mean.
Leading Up to Our Core Values
MaxCDN began as a startup in 2009 with about 5 people, nearly doubling in size year over year. As with many successful entrepreneurial ventures, infrastructure didn’t always expand proportionally with sales and company growth, which was both exciting yet sometimes overwhelming. Customers loved our product and our delivery, but there were very few processes and procedures in place to drive decisions.
In many cases, we were flying by the seat of our pants, making sure services remained up and running at peak performance. While this approach seemed to work, we realized the wheels would at some point “come off the cart” if we didn’t break for a tune-up. At this time, it became crucial for us to take a step back, evaluate our progress, and better focus our efforts. And this is precisely what we did in late 2013.
Business was great, we were growing and expanding, but we realized we weren’t unified in our interdepartmental communications. When it came to efficiency, we seemed to fall short, so we started asking ourselves questions as to why this was so. These questions led to bigger questions like:
- Who are we?
- Who do we want to be?
- What do we stand for?
Before we could answer these, however, we all had to agree on what we all felt was fundamentally most important to our company. We had to ask ourselves: “What is it that makes us “MaxCDN?” This was the very beginning of a year-long investigation.
How We Created Our Core Values
In the beginning, it was one person researching and culling information about core values, why they’re important, how they can provide a filter for decision making, and how to create them. Knowing this couldn’t be a top-down process, a team of six people were assembled to represent the company at large.
The Core Values Team
That team met a handful of times to engage in a self-reflective process which involved “homework.” We had to begin with our own personal core values, take inventory, and share what we valued from experience in our lives. This revealed how we were similar, as well as different. It became easy to see how we worked well together, because we saw where our personal values overlapped.
These more personal conversations led to a larger dialogue about how we most naturally operate as a company, as a whole. What were the underlying values driving our success, and where were we out of alignment with them? It was actually pretty obvious. The real challenge was in the subjective meaning of language, and how to best articulate these values.
Hashing Out Meaning
This was where things got really interesting.
For instance, “What do you mean when you say X?” was a question that got asked a lot. And because people aren’t used to having to explain themselves in this way, our core values team often called upon stories, feelings, and lots of adjectives. It was like painting a picture so everyone else could see it. So we “duked-it-out”, “hashed it out”, and really started to understand what direction we were all pointing; and by the end, we had ourselves a list. We had a list of qualities we felt best represented the company, and we knew we did because we could insert any employee’s name and that list generally described that person.
After discovering the qualities, we struggled with the best way to articulate them. We were still stumbling over the resonance of language.
It’s amazing how two people can essentially say exactly the same thing, yet the conveyed meaning will be completely different for different people. How can we say this so that every employee feels fully and accurately represented? We knew these values had to feel natural and be something people could rally behind. So it became evident we needed to gauge their impact through a company survey.
This survey proved invaluable. We had 99% participation and, for the most part, people unanimously agreed. After the survey, our core values team met again to discuss results and comb through comments.
Once we settled on our core values statements, we realized we needed a style. These core company values not only had to mean something, they also needed to be memorable. They had to carry some punch, and they needed that “MaxCDN flare.” So we reduced those statements to 2-3 word taglines, which also became symbols/icons. This all resulted in what can now be seen here -- the values that create the foundation for our actions of today and tomorrow.
Our Six Company Core Values
1. Make Cool $#!+
Everyone at MaxCDN makes cool $#!+, in every department. Support makes our customers happy, gives them the direction they need to fully optimize their CDN strategy. DevOps makes our CDN speedy and relevant, and Engineering makes it easy and awesome to use. HR keeps us happy, which helps us keep you happy. Accounting keeps us financially accurate and transparent, keeping all of our records organized and accessible. And marketing and sales makes it known that MaxCDN is in fact making cool $#!+, and makes it easy to get.
No matter the department, everyone here takes pride in refining and streamlining their processes, and making things easier and more efficient both for ourselves as well as our customers. We think optimization is cool.
2. Work n’ Whistle
Take a walk through our offices and you’ll see glowing orange walls, people on scooters, doggies in hallways, and sumo wrestlers in conference rooms. More importantly, you’ll see people collaborating with a vision. You’ll sense that everyone wants to be here, like we’re all friends laying pieces of a puzzle down over pizza. This isn’t just any old job. It’s what makes us happy. We also all agree that if you don’t like your job, maybe you’re in the wrong role. Work should be appropriately challenging, AND fun!
3. Get it Done
We have a lot of fun, but our fun never “gets in the way.” If anything, it only makes us work harder, smarter. Having a get-it-done approach ensures we can keep doing what we love, working with the people we love, beyond just today. It ensures we continue to serve our customers as promised so there’s always a desire and need for us to stick around.
4. Own It
When we work on getting something done, we own it, regardless of setbacks and outcome. Owning something when it’s successful is easy. Owning something when it goes awry or other-than-expected builds character. We also celebrate owning our success. At MaxCDN, everyone takes total accountability for their actions. This builds trust throughout the company and among each other.
5. Share the Love
We value each other, plain and simple. We value relationships. We value people, be they colleagues, friends, co-workers, family or customers. We also make a difference in the world by sharing our good, by being of service to one another, by showing kindness and compassion, forgiveness and humility. This translates into our work environment by the level of support we offer one another. It also translates into the way in which we treat our customers. We want to help. We like helping, which is why we’re dedicated to open source and transparency. We want our good to be your good.
6. Don’t Stop
Growing as individuals and as a whole is an ongoing effort, and in order to accomplish great things a certain amount of faith in what’s possible is required. We may not have all the answers all the time, but with dedication and commitment we lean into our infinite potential, knowing we can reach our desired goal. Time and again, experience proves we can achieve even more than we originally thought possible.