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Culture & Values

This page is maintained by

Stephane Roux

TL;DR: This page explains how we think about culture at Wonder and what our values are.

How we view culture

Culture is the key to a fulfilling work life and productive teams. We are super intentional about culture and that means we understand that culture is not something you dictate or choose, but something that grows organically. So we see our role as nurturing and facilitating that growth.

Start with what you have

To be authentic and meaningful, culture has to be rooted in the behavior, mindset and values of existing team members. If the founders try to "define" it, it loses touch with the reality of the team.

We run regular interviews with our team to ask them about how they experience working at Wonder and what they think defines our team. We also run a monthly "Pulse Check" survey to check in with the team and see if we are living up to our cultural standards. That way, when we define our working mode, set policies or decide on hiring criteria, we know that our principles resonate with everyone on the team.

Learn more here:

Let everyone participate

We try to facilitate the organic growth of culture within our team. Everyone should feel that they can actively participate in defining who we are and what we value. This doesn't mean everyone needs to spend hours planning team events! People are different and that's fine. What it means is that everyone has a say and if people want to take a more active role, they can.

Learn more here:

Culture is flux

This also implies that culture is not fixed and permanent, but always in a state of flux. Some cultural principles are more central to our identity than others and change less, others are a function of our stage or of the way the team grew. That's natural and we encourage change.

For example, in our early days we were much more "move fast and break things". We would focus on getting things done right now without thinking too much about setting up processes. Now we are more structured and ordered. As the team grows, spontaneous team meetings and frequent changes of plans are more costly for everyone. So we decided (all together) to be more disciplined in meetings, more careful with scheduling, and to document processes and decisions more.

Show, don't tell

There are lots of empty words in the corporate world. So, rather than setting up a polished values page, we think it's more impactful to give everyone transparency over what we are about. That's what this guide is about. Make up your own mind!

Team values

Team values are character traits that we value in team members. They are partly descriptive (i.e. they describe our current team), partly aspirational (i.e. they describe what we would be like).

We use them mainly for two purposes:

  1. For hiring. We try to create some consistency and alignment in our team by adding people who share some of our values. Not everyone needs to share everything, but there should be some overlap. Depending on the role and the level of seniority, we define and weight our values. Craft means something different for engineers than it does for a recruiter. Similarly, a Senior will be expected to show more ownership than a Junior.
  2. To guide our organizational design. If people value empathy and open communication, you can have a more "advanced" feedback process where you invest a bit more time and energy than you otherwise would.

Here are our current team values. Please focus on the texts below the words. People have different associations with loaded words like "empathy", so the description below is more relevant.

Craft

We value craftsmanship in all roles. This means that people:

  • Are able to work at the highest standard of their field.
  • Derive pleasure and energy from what they do (whether they write code, prototype designs or conduct interviews).
  • Aren't satisfied with standard answers and want to dig deeper to get to the bottom of things.
  • Keep up to date with recent development and have opinions about how things should be done.
  • Actively seek to improve their skills.

People can be nerdy and perfectionist and those traits are appreciated. We find that this helps in creating an ego-free collaborative environment and that it makes sure that our product is state of the art.

Ownership

We value autonomy in our work and give each other a lot of freedom in bringing up ideas and implementing them. We encourage experimentation and understand that mistakes are part of that. This means that we look for people who:

  • Identify with their work and put their whole selves into it.
  • Actively want to have autonomy in their work.
  • Questions things and come up with ideas for improvement.
  • Are outcome-oriented.
  • Have a high level of self-organization.
  • Bring things to completion.

We think that this unleashes the greatest amount of energy from everyone.

Growth mindset

We look for ways to grow as individuals and as a team. We constantly want to develop and improve. When we hire, we look for people who:

  • Are exciting about learning.
  • Enjoy trying out new things and taking on about unfamiliar challenges.
  • See differences in opinions as an opportunity to expand their horizon.
  • Are receptive to feedback and who give feedback to others.
  • Motivate others in the team to think big.

Empathy

We consider the feelings of people in our decisions (both our own and others), because it's the only way to collaborate and to enjoy the process. This means that people:

  • Are kind.
  • Care about others on the team and are willing and able to listen.
  • Are committed to creating a safe environment where others feel free to be themselves.
  • Are able to reflect on their own emotions and those of others and to talk about them.