January 4, 2018

3 questions to build the vision and culture for your company

People in general often think that having a nice office with Ping Pong tables and motivational posters is part of company culture.

At WP Media we believe that it’s much more than that.

We recently worked on writing our culture and company vision: this is a huge undertaking and we would like to share first how we did it and then the result.
We hope that if you are working on this kind of project  this will help you too , or if you haven’t thought about it yet, this will help you think about it.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

You will find this quote from Peter Drucker in about every post talking about company culture.

I, as  CEO of WP Media, would partially disagree with this sentence. In fact, it’s true only if you have a real culture. A culture you live with, a culture you apply and not something you write once and which is forgotten.
At WP Media, I think (I may not be very objective) we have a strong culture since day one, even if we didn’t really write and clearly express it until recently.

In the past months, we had feedback from several of our teammates, saying that the company is lacking a clear vision. Our annual retreat in September was the best moment to present our company vision and culture to our team.

I was pretty afraid when I had to write our vision and culture: what the hell am I going to write here?

And finally, it was much easier than I thought because there were so many things we were doing on daily basis which define  who we are, what we do, how we work.

The vision of a company is the simple answer to these 3 questions :

  • Why do we exist?
  • What do we do?
  • Why do we do it?

Why do we exist?

With WP Media, we are building a great company that helps people create faster websites.

What do we do?

We build software and services which improve website performance to ensure that websites load fast or, for some people on slow connections, simply load.

Why do we do it?

Time is valuable, so we are helping hundreds of thousands of people accomplish their goals:

  • Having more visitors
  • Better user experience
  • Higher conversion
  • Better sales
  • Growing their business

Also, we are giving a little bit more time to millions of people who are visiting faster websites.
And in some cases, we are providing, at the end, access to websites to people with very poor connections. These are websites that couldn’t be loaded and now can be thanks to us.

How we work at WP Media?

Once we’ve defined our mission, it’s a requirement to know how we are going to work to achieve that mission, and these are our values.

#1 Committed to Transparency

If you follow us and our products (WP Rocket, Imagify) you know that we have been very serious about transparency.

It’s a good opportunity to provide more information, but why do we do it ?
People can see it as a communication strategy. It’s not.

Also when you start with transparency, people often will think that everything will be transparent, and we will communicate about everything.

We have a culture of  transparency for one reason : there is no place for hiding information, more information leads to better decisions.

When we’ve shared our strategies (with our numbers) the goal was to help business owners (like we have been helped) to make better decisions thanks to our experience.

That doesn’t mean that everything we do, should be shared.

#2 Always be fair (and nice)

The idea is to be fair and nice with our team, users, partners and competitors.
For example we have a “no bitching” rule for our competitors, which means we don’t talk in a bad way publicly or internally about them.

#3 Users first

Every successful company has to have its interests aligned with its users’ /customers’ interests. So it’s natural to always do what is best for our users.

This also includes providing exceptional support to them.

#4 Team Trust

Our team is the most important key to our success. We trust our teammates to make the  best decisions. That also means we don’t need policies/ rules for everything.

#5 With Trust comes liberty

Since we trust our team, we can all work from the place that we want. We don’t count hours and holidays.

#6 We are all owners

Trust and liberty comes because our team has responsibilities which require accountability.
This requires us all to act as a leader and to be an example for all teammates.

We strongly believe in self improvement in every aspect. Thus each teammate should transform themself, their colleagues and the company.

This means also that we always act in WP Media’s best interest. As an example, when it comes to company expenses, we spend it like if it was our own expense.

#7 It’s ok to fail

We all fail at some point, and it’s really ok to fail. Only people who don’t do anything don’t fail.

As we believe in self improvement, we believe also that it’s important to recognize why we failed and to not make the same mistake twice.

#8 Better done than perfect

Since it’s ok to fail, it’s important to ship and produce even if sometimes it’s not perfect.

#9 Be serious without taking ourselves too seriously : let’s have some fun

We are running a serious business, we have a lot of serious work to do. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

#10 Be humble

Even if we are building a great company, we don’t need to be arrogant.

#11 You are important

This includes several notions here.
The first one, is about diversity. This means that we believe that diversity of sex, sexual orientation, culture, race, religion, etc is good and an advantage for our company.
This should be promoted in a good way.

The second one is about life work balance.
That’s pretty simple, if we are not good in our personal life because we work too much we won’t be good in our work. It’s important to take to time for ourselves and our family.

The last one is about wellness.
We have only and life and one body, so we should take care of ourselves.

#12 It’s always a team effort.

There is no place for ego.

The most important thing about culture and vision is to apply it and stick to it every day.
You could have the best vision and culture, but if you don’t live it, it’s like you have nothing.

If you are running a company and you don’t have anything yet, it’s worth taking the time to think about these 3 questions :

What do you do?
Why do you do it?
How do you do it?

These 3 “simple” questions,  finally provide the answer to the vision and culture for your company.
I would be super grateful to have your feedback about our culture/vision. Please reply in the comments.

Here is the slides of our vision/culture:

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