WE CREATED OUR CORE VALUES WHEN WE WERE 7 PEOPLE, THE EARLIER, THE BETTER.
Our core values are a set of good practices that we use on a daily basis. They guide the way we work: as the Blablacar’s motto “Never assume, Always check“. It is what unites our team and gives us a sense of belonging.
We have defined our core values at the very beginning of our history. We wanted the whole company to move in the right direction in complete autonomy from the get go. Today when dilemmas arise, values help us make decisions.
Creating values is not about writing “Always Innovate” on your wall. Or worst “To help make every brand more inspiring, and the world more intelligent“. Too many companies make the mistake of creating vague and general values. It is not enough to display values in the lobby.
There is no interest if no employee can identify with the principles of the company they work for.
2015: OUR FIRST FIVE CORE VALUES
The creation process was fun. We filled out a document for a month by writing our observations. Everyone in the team wrote anonymous observations about Toucan Toco.
What they liked or disliked about social, work, image, relationships, design, dataviz topics and so on.
Then two of the founders took on the responsibility of summarizing all these observations and created our first 5 core values.
It’s a nod to geek culture, the famous RTFM – Read The Fucking Manual. This is what developers tell to each other when a question is asked and the answer is already documented somewhere.
We changed the meaning to Write The Fucking Manual. When one of us discovers a new tool, a site or a piece of interesting code, he talks about it and documents it. This practice allows the team to benefit from a common knowledge.
Knowledge must be accessible so that new recruits can integrate quickly. It is also an advantage when someone goes on holiday. Everything is documented and everyone can take over each other’s tasks. This makes it possible to return without anyone suffering from his absence.
The B*tch refers to American expressions such as “Give before you get…b*tch !”. At Toucan Toco, we like to have fun. This is our trademark and everyone plays along. This is part of the simple and healthy atmosphere: no hierarchy, no trainee or CEO. We are inspired by the “Flatland” of Valve. The management is flat and each member is responsible for himself.
Our objective is to capitalize on the knowledge of each member at Toucan Toco
** “Update from our core values in 2019: The word b*tch wasn’t showing our desire for benevolence and gender equality. It has now been erased from the value.”
EACH ONE TEACH ONE
This value comes from an event in England called the Nest
We like to share everything we know. Everyone shares their knowledge with other functions and teams. We are interested in the work of others. Transversal knowledge is essential in our creative process.
This knowledge sharing takes place through the organization of talks every Friday at noon. Inspired by the Brown Bag Lunch, Start-up founders, friends, family, Tokars come and share their ideas and passions. Each team member brings a stone to the edifice and enriches the culture of others.
We pay particular attention to new recruits. Our goal is to share our expertise quickly and to train them carefully. We always take time for each other and this helps us get much better at what we do.
DON’T BREAK THE FIRST WINDOW
This value is rooted in a criminological study called “The broken window theory“. Let’s consider a building with broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, other windows will continue to be broken by vandals. In the end, it’s escalation, squatters will enter the building and bring havoc.
The same logic exists with waste on the street, the more garbage accumulates, the more passers-by allow themselves to throw waste on the ground.
Small details matter and we think in the long term. We are not hiding anything under the carpet. We are aware that if we let a detail pass, it can lead to bad practices or bigger problems in the future. It is a discipline that we are committed to follow. We want to provide the best possible product and service to our customers.
A developer will never leave a piece of risky code in the product, sales representative will always fill out the CRM so they know who they have been talking to, marketers won’t sell the moon, everyone knows that small details matter.
GETTING BETTER TOGETHER
One of the team’s common points is the desire to go beyond themselves. We always like to do better and improve our environment. This is achieved through continuous iteration. We are not afraid to try, fail and start again. Our credo is “Done is better than perfect“. Our method is simple, we release something in Version zero and then we continuously improve it.
So we get better every day and we get better as a team! We exchange on our working methods and our knowledge. Marketing automates certain tasks through developers, business developers provide valuable information to Successful Client Managers, marketers help developers write content…
Everyone shares their ideas with the other functions and helps each other. Knowledge is a common good!
BE WELL & TAKE CARE
We spend most of our day at work. We want to create a simple and healthy environment that allows us to spend fulfilling days. This requires a pleasant work space and a close-knit team that shares the same principles.
The motto of this value is “Mens sana in corpore sano”, “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. The management is horizontal, we have a meditation session every thursday, we believe in not overworking ourselves. We want people to have a life after work 🙂
Getting along with others is essential. This is why we always have “team fit session” at the end of each recruitment process. We want to make sure that we get along with our future colleagues.
Our “core values” allow us to structure the history of our company, they help us to stay on track. Every week, the team grows, we want to keep the same mindset while including everyone’s vision.
WE UPDATED OUR CORE VALUES IN 2019 SO IT WOULD PERFECTLY MATCH WITH THE TEAM CULTURE
Every time we feel like the team has grown a lot, we update our core values. In 2019 we were 75 people, we had updated our last core values when we were 35. It was about time.
Here are the results of our new Core values. We kept the one we were feeling really close too, rephrased some, and created new ones.
THE CORE VALUES WE KEPT IN 2019
These three core values truly represent the soul of Toucan Toco. They haven’t changed for the past 4 years, despite the team growing from 7 to 75 people.
Each one Teach one
Be Well and Take Care
Write the F*cking Manual
OUR 2019 NEW CORE VALUES
LET’S SHARPEN YOUR AXE
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
We decided to create this value because when interviewing the team, people really enjoyed the fact that people would support them. We enjoy helping out others when they ask for it and even when they don’t.
Sharpening your axe means that people will always help you, but that you also have to take time to challenge the way you do things and the process of Toucan Toco.
We just loved the woodcutter story that really coined the idea that we want people to take time to earn time.
The story is about a woodcutter who is cutting less and less trees every day. He gets frustrated and spends more and more energy cutting the trees with worst results. Someone drops by and tells him to take a break and sharpen his axe. Turns out he didn’t take the time because he was to busy and focused on getting results.
Sometimes you need someone on your team to help you gain clarity, or you can just do it by yourself by taking a break. It is so easy to go into a tunnel and never get out to question how and why you are doing what you do.
IN TOKARS WE TRUST
A Tokar is someone that works at Toucan Toco 🙂
While talking to the team we really felt that they didn’t need other people to tell them what to do.
They all act as leader, taking responsibility when failing and pushing their line so that the task given to them is achieved.
This trust comes with the fact that we feel like we can fail without getting penalized for it. You are responsible for your mistakes but your are also backed and put into a safe zone where you can learn from them. Basically we run away from micro management.
This level of autonomy is what every Tokar is promised when coming to the company. This is the aligned autonomy inspired by Spotify. Founders give a vision and the team decides how they are going to execute it.
Deriving from this trust concept, we also believe that every voice has the same weight. Whether you are an Intern or the CEO, only logic will prevail. This freedom of speech is truly precious. We have serious talks with the whole team where anyone can express their feelings and thoughts. This high level of communication is really precious to us.
FIX THE BROKEN WINDOW
This core value is based on our old value Don’t Break the first window. The past two years we’ve become practical and maybe less naive 🙂
We’ve dropped our utopia of perfection in a way. Things break. It is just the way the world is. As you grow as a team and an organization, you will break things.
Sometimes you need to go very fast and this will create a legacy. This might happen with your code, your process, the office life or anything really.
As a team we want to recognize and accept that some stuff can break, and that we can fix them while still growing fast.
When a problem arises, it is everyone’s problem and we can all fix it together. From the smallest problem of office life to the way we work.
As a reader, if you want to look at our methodology, you can have a look at our slideshare on core values
Charles Miglietti, Co-fondateur de Toucan Toco