Written At: 2018-01-25
Paul Sohn wrote ‘Culture always trumps strategy under pressure’ in his blog, Here's How Leaders Create Healthy Organizational Culture
Take Shiftee's example. We started by only two co-founders with no insights in business. As we kept growing the business, we'd come to a stage where we added two more members to our team in September, 2017. That's when we started to think about the culture of Shiftee and how we should set an example to the team.
We wanted to foster a unique culture which all members would be eager to take part in and pass them down to all new members who'd join team Shiftee in the future. The culture could only come from who we are, how we've been doing business together, and the philosophy we all agreed to in running Shiftee. So we looked back on the first year since the initiation of Shiftee project which was July, 2016 to set core values, missions and a vision which we had to communicate with the team to build our unique culture.
First, we thought about who we are, what sets us apart from others. Basing our operation in Korea, we may have seemed different from people who have grown up here. One example is that we took an “unconventional” product development process using languages people in Korea may perceive as unfamiliar. Also, while in North America, scheduling, timeclock attendance applications or softwares market can be said to be quite saturated, Korea was a whole new market. People heavily rely on traditional methods of recording timesheet, scheduling and processing payroll with excel, even for mid-sized corporations. We had the risk of finding the right hire who is willing to practice the unconventional development of Shiftee and the risk of pioneering a new market. So the keyword here is being UNCONVENTIONAL and it has become one of our biggest core values.
The second core value is INSIGHT. We have seen many users since the beginning. We had to see many leave us as well. Either staying with us or leaving, we've made many attempts to listen to their needs and complaints. From those conversations or any sorts of communication, we've had many of “wants” of users. So many that we had hard time prioritizing what to do first because many of them were spoken without prioritizing. Users just had to say what just comes up in their mind. To protect the core of our service and the value we deliver to users, we had to cut out many of the feedbacks that were merely unreasonable wants. We started to study what users really need which is the essence the business. We became more insightful as we took this approach and were able to implement features that users couldn't go without. We are proud to communicate the following message with the team. “Find what users really need, not a mere want.”
At the early stage of our product, we only had MVPs and couldn't serve the needs of large corporations. Doesn't mean that we could perfectly solve problems for Small Businesses. With low maturity of the product, we could barely get to serve SMBs we deemed to be our main target market. I had called new SMB users everyday to find out why they are leaving Shiftee. (We had a serious retention and engagement issue right when our MVP was out.) Phone calls after another, every attempt to find out the core reason of dropping out was fruitless. Many of the SMB users couldn't articulate exactly what they want to see and how in Shiftee. We finally learned that getting feedbacks from SMBs were not as effective as ones from larger corporations. The large corporations had set of procedures in managing employees so they had specific feature requests and gave valuable feedbacks. These feedbacks played a crucial role in shaping Shiftee along the way. By detecting the market response and with FLEXIBILITY, we were able to pivot the whole business direction from serving SMBs to large corporations. (Shiftee is still SMB friendly as well.)
The last two core values are CUSTOMER SATISFACTION and OPENNESS. We wanted to keep satisfying clients with services that are essential to their needs. Also, having open culture within the team allows us to freely communicate one's opinion and promote collaboration. We did not want to be one of the traditional and strict company with hierarchical reporting process.
Above five core values we set will foster the culture within team Shiftee and ultimately serve our mission below: