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How we documented our culture

11th May 2021

We‘re proud of our culture at Foolproof. It’s one of the biggest reasons that people join us, enjoy working here and stay with us for many years (myself included).

At the start of the pandemic, one question that we were asking ourselves was “how will working from home affect our culture?”

While many of us thought we knew what ‘our culture’ meant, it was only in our heads. For job candidates, new starters, our clients and sometimes even ourselves, it was hard to understand and explain what it’s like to work at Foolproof.

We’ve recently completed the first stage of documenting our culture: writing down and sharing a set of statements, that you can read about right here

This post goes into a bit more detail about how we arrived at these statements.

Why we documented our culture

Our culture is one of the things that makes Foolproof a great place to work and makes us a lot of fun to work with. But many of its aspects aren’t apparent until you’ve been with us for a while. So, we documented our culture to:

  • Help us attract people who share a similar mindset, and not just those who fit our culture today but those who will add to it tomorrow.
  • Help onboard new starters, especially when we aren’t able to meet in person.
  • Help us explain how we work to existing and potential clients.
  • Remind us what makes Foolproof special and check ourselves against that.
The type of output we wanted

We’ve all seen examples of corporate culture documentation that feel generic or inauthentic, so we wanted our culture to be articulated in a different way:

  • Behaviours, not values. They should describe things that we do, not just be a collection of words like ‘trust’, ‘integrity’ and ‘respect’. It should be easy to point to specific examples of the things we document.
  • Capturing what we are like on our best day. Not an aspirational state.

We reviewed best practice examples from the likes of Gov.uk, Spotify and Monzo as inspiration for this.

A bottom-up, not top-down approach

Rather than getting the leadership team in a room (or a Zoom call) to write down what they think our culture is, we wanted to open the process up to the entire company.

We ran workshops using Miro and Zoom which were attended by a third of the company. People worked in groups to describe what we’re like and what we’re not like. For those that couldn’t attend, we shared the Miro boards so everyone had the chance to add their thoughts.

image 26
Examples from the workshops we ran to document our culture

This generated over 500 data points which we grouped into a number of themes. From these we created a set of draft statements, which we shared with the whole company for feedback, before iterating on them to create how we describe our culture today. Importantly, people could go onto the Miro and trace each statement’s origins back to the feedback given in the workshops

image 27
Culture statements being refined in Miro
Sharing our culture

Over the last few months, we’ve been sharing this with a number of job candidates and all of our new starters.

We’re working on illustrating our culture documentation so that it’s a little more engaging than a long list, but in the meantime, you can read it to get a sense of what it’s like to work with us here

If you like what you’ve read about how we describe our culture take a read of our current job listings.

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