Company Philosophy

From day one, our goal has been to build a company that supports its employees first and foremost.  We truly believe that if our employees are happy then our customers will follow.  Some people say put the customers first, but we really believe that by putting the employees first our customers are the beneficiaries. In our original incorporation talks our founders found a variation of the following philosophy from MySQL and modified it to align with our goals.  We live, eat and breathe this every day and love watching our employees and customers grow because of it.

Purpose

  • Create a sustainable business model that can be adopted and adapted by others.
  • Create a fair and democratic company that is owned by the workers.
  • Have long-term, trustworthy and meaningful relationships with the team and our customers.

Principles

  • Egalitarian: The belief that all people should be treated equally. This includes equality, non-discrimination and inclusivity.
  • Sustainable: We have a long-term view on our business. We watch our profits and spend wisely; we take care of each other, and we support the things we depend on.
  • Transparent: We communicate in an honest and genuine way. Any information or process that can be made open will be made open.
  • Fun: Create a workplace where people can have fun and want to work.
  • Agile: Be flexible, receptive and adaptive, especially when dealing with the team and customers.
  • Pragmatic: Why spend your life developing software unless you care about doing it well? Fix bad designs, wrong decisions, and poor code when you see them.  Come to understand your users’ expectations, and then deliver just that little bit more.

Methods

Concrete tools for helping us live according to our principles, including:

  • Consensus-based decision making.
  • Corporate transparency – any information or process that can be made open, should be made open.
  • Licensing that helps benefit our company, our team, our customers, our partners and society at large.
  • Profit-sharing with the team, contributors and worthy causes.
  • Prefer to work with people who share our values.

Default Employee Rules

Some employee roles may have different requirements — for example, someone working on support may need to have regular hours. Of course, any differences need to be noted explicitly in the employee’s contract in a section that clearly details any variations from the standard agreement.

  • 75 working hours per two weeks. Ideally, employees should work schedules that are kind to them, their families and to others.
  • Equal free (vacation) time. Everyone has 35 free days a year plus Saturday and Sundays. Note that this means that one should use a free day if one wants to not work any business day (Monday-Friday) even if it’s a public holiday in your country!
  • The employee will get a shared copyright to all code and documentation he/she produces according to the spirit of the Sun’s SCA license agreement. This doesn’t include confidential code/documentation or code/documentation that we do for customers that require full ownership to the produced code/documentation.
  • The employee needs to be transparent with everything they are doing. Transparency makes the employee responsible to their peers, and makes them accountable by their own statements. It’s also the best vehicle to create trust.
  • The employee needs to do a weekly report that includes everything they have done during the week, their plans for the upcoming week, and also any ideas they may have (half-baked or ready-to-use) and would like to discuss with others. The weekly reports should show clear progress in the employee’s major tasks.
  • The employee needs to plan to take at least 10 days of training a year.  Training is important to our teams’ goals.  We understand that everyone learns in different ways and support whatever way you want to learn.  Training needs to be approved at least two weeks in advance to help support our customers.  At the end of all training classes employees must ‘show’ what they have learned.  This will be either through a demo, blog post, video or review of the training medium they took.
  • The employee is expected to take an active role in their community; this includes both at home and online.  Blogging, tweeting, presenting, and knowledge-sharing are essential in building a successful relationship with your coworkers and our customers.
  • The employee must speak up if the company is doing something they think is harmful for itself, its employees or customers. It’s crucial for the success of the company that the employees are ‘on board’ with the vision of the company.
  • The salary should be competitive in the area where the employee is located.
  • If an employee has been of significant help in getting/delivering a customer order, they are entitled to a bonus for this work.
  • The employee is assumed to be cost efficient. This means they should prefer to use:
    • Cost efficient communication tools like Skype and VoIP.
    • Economy traveling tickets.
    • Medium priced hotels, rental cars, and restaurants.
    • If the employee wants better hotel, food, traveling arrangements, working equipment, etc this can be arranged, but the difference will be reduced from their salary, contract money or bonus.
  • When hired, the employee will be considered as ‘on-trial’ for the first 3 months. After the trial period, the Company and employee will decide if things are working out and either hire the employee or contract him under similar terms as if they were employed full-time.
  • People that are not working up to expectations will receive a warning. If the situation is not corrected within one month, they will be moved to ‘on-trial’ status. After 3 months, the Company and the employee will revisit the employee’s performance and will decide whether further employment is in their best interests.

The Rules of the Company

  • The Company is primarily created to generate a positive work environment for the employees. Our goal is to build a company that we can all enjoy, develop great solutions and retire together
  • The Company should make it as fun as possible to work for the Company.
  • The Company will strive to be small and efficient. If growing too big, it will split into separate business units or companies.  We fully believe that 15-30 employees is a healthy size for the organization.
  • Strive for long relationships with employees and customers. The Company is a family.
  • The Company needs to respect the individuality of its employees. If the employee has reasonable ‘extra’ demands they need to be seriously considered. (For example when it comes to work on weekends, room sharing, not wanting to travel, etc).
  • The Company will employ people based on their merits. They will not be discriminated based on their gender, race, religion, location, marital status or whom they have married.
  • The Company will not require people to work on weekends. The Company has the right to ask the employee to work on weekends, but the employee has the right to refuse without any consequences.
  • The Company will actively encourage its employees to take out their vacation and not save it for later. This is especially important for employees that are “burning out.”
  • The Company will, whenever it’s possible, largely let the employee choose their own work, instead of being told what to do. By letting the employee set their own goals, he is more likely to meet them. When working on a chosen project the employee needs to work with the team lead, but after the project is done, the employee should decide on what to do next.
  • The Company needs to be long-term cost efficient in its daily operation. This should be considered when choosing software, phone usage, equipment, etc. Increased employee productivity must be considered in these decisions.
  • The Company will not censor employees’ opinions or try to hinder employees from expressing them. The Company should provide appropriate forums for the employees to discuss anything work related.
  • The Company will actively help and sponsor open source projects.
  • The Company will strive for having as much of its plans and information publicly available. All rules of the Company will be made public on its website.
  • The Company will respect the privacy of the employees. It will not read, without explicit permission from either the author or the receivers, any employee emails that are not sent to an email list and it will not read any logs from any private (query) chat or IM sessions.

Decision-making processes

The Company is led by a President. His actions are governed by:

  • A leadership team, consisting of members from the employees

The purpose of the governance team is to give directives (that must be followed) to the President and suggest changes to the rules and decisions processes. The Company will be led in an open and democratic fashion:

  • Decisions will be done in a democratic fashion and all employees should have a chance to have their say in things that matter to them.
  • In cases of disagreement things should be resolved by voting with the 3 vote rule; ‘Yes, No and Never’. A decision should normally not be taken if there is a single ‘Never’ vote. In exceptional ‘life and death’ cases, after thorough discussions have been had and after all other options are exhausted, a decision can be taken even if there are ‘a few’ ‘Never’ votes, if 50% of the company will vote ‘Yes’ to the proposal.
  • Company should work according to the motto: “Do good decisions fast but be prepared to quickly change course if there is a better way to do it.” This implies that the following should hold for ‘controversial decisions:’
    • If requested, the decision maker’s need to clearly define the basis for a decision and provide means for proving/disproving that the decision is in the Company’s best interests.
    • If a decision is proved wrong, it needs to be reverted and the decision makers need to analyze why it went wrong and take steps to ensure that it won’t happen again.
  • The Company should learn from its mistakes and its successes. It should strive to repeat its successes and avoid its mistakes in the future.

Difficult decisions / Changing the rules

The rules of the Company can only be changed if at least 75% of the Company employees are not opposed to the changes. The owners of 51% of the voting shares in the Company (initially only the founders) have the definite power to say ‘NO’ to any made decision that doesn’t have 75% of the employees behind it. They can also propose new decisions that will be taken if 51% of the employees stand behind it. This rule can only be changed with 85% of the voting shares.

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