At the Vendo Partner Conference this year I had a chance to talk with a lot of people about how they run their businesses. These conversations inspired me to spend some time thinking about how we approach our work at Vendo, both internally and with partners and suppliers.
The document you see below is an experiment in laying out our vision and how we will work together to get there. It’s an internal document that we wouldn’t normally share with the world, but we’d really love to hear your thoughts on it.
Have you ever done something similar with your company? What was the result?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
The Vendo Way
This doc is about how we work together at Vendo. We’re writing down what are normally the unwritten agreements that people make when they come together on a project.
It’s a guide to how we approach our work, but it’s also a part of the grand experiment. As we try new things and learn from the results we’ll add or change it as needed.
To understand the way we work, we need to understand our vision and our values. They drive everything we do.
“To become the world’s preferred way to buy/sell products online by delivering the best experience for each customer.”
That’s our goal. Everything we do on a daily basis should be moving us toward that goal, if it isn’t then we need to talk about it and understand why.
We are not satisfied with the status quo. We are explorers, constantly looking for a better way. We don’t settle, we ask why, we experiment, and we act. That’s how we grow.
Passion is our foundation. It comes first. It is the catalyst. It motivates us to work hard, using our imagination and knowledge to achieve our goals. We are proud of the amazing things we create together.
We see change as a constant. We embrace it. We are smart, nimble and relentless. We pursue compelling opportunities to eliminate inefficiencies to create value.
We are strong, stubborn and persistent in pursuing our purpose. We are very focused and we get things done. We are competitive and we come prepared to win.
We see what could be and we build it.
We like what we do. We enjoy ourselves and the people we work with. We like skateboarding, space camp, beer, gaming, yoga, hockey, BBQs, diving, fantasy football, parties on the terrace, and Barcelona.
How we work
What works today may not work tomorrow. Even a good process can be improved. We hold each other accountable for improving how we work. When something works we share it so we can all learn from your success. When an experiment doesn’t work out as planned we share that, too, because we believe an experiment is only a failure if we don’t learn from it.
Because we are spread out geographically we need to take extra care that our communication is top notch and that takes effort from everyone.
Every department or project team should have a skype group, slack room, or Basecamp chat dedicated to their project where people can ask a question and expect that everyone in the group will see it and respond quickly. This saves us from delays and needless team meetings, so ask your quick questions here. If there is a question directed at you in a group chat and you are too busy to reply in detail respond that you can help at a specific time.
If you create a ticket and it’s hot please let Project Management know, do not go directly to a dev. We need to respect the fact that they need to focus on their work. The Project Manager will have it addressed according to its priority. If you have a ticket in progress and want to know how it is progressing check the ticket and if you still don’t know speak with a Project Manager, not a dev.
Basecamp is where we track our monthly goals, it is how the entire company can track our progress. Regularly update any tasks that are assigned to you, even if the update is just: In progress, more details on DateX. That way anyone tracking the task knows that it is not being forgotten. There should never be a task in Basecamp that is assigned to you that has an expired date. If you need more time you should discuss with your department head well before the due date so that we can all adjust our plans.
As a rule every email that we receive gets a response within 24 hours. This is an important standard that we all need to hold each other to. It prevents tasks and projects from getting lost. If there isn’t a specific task or answer that is required just reply with “copy” or “understood” so that the person that sent the email knows that you got it, read it, and know what needs to be done.
If you don’t know how to use Google Hangouts come talk to Sys Ops. Hangouts is super easy to use and handles group calls better than skype (usually).
If the bandwidth allows it use video in the call. A call where you can see each other is much more personal.
ALWAYS wear headphones if you are the only person in the call on your side. If you don’t wear headphones it degrades the quality for everyone else in the call (and Buddy will yell at you).
If appropriate record the call so that we can go back and refer to it later.
Each department or project team should have scrum meetings. If you don’t know what a scrum meeting is come and speak with Tech. A regular scrum meeting helps the team keep up to date on where everyone is on their tasks and ask for help from the other team members when necessary.
After a project or specific effort a team should meet to discuss what went well, what went badly, and what they want to change for the next effort. This is a great way to prevent repeating mistakes.
Meetings are a double edged sword, often getting everyone in a room together (even if it’s a digital room) can get to the heart of a problem more quickly than chats or emails BUT big meetings take up a lot of time and focus and often they aren’t the best use of a group’s time. We also tend to lose valuable days because we have to wait until there is an open slot in everyone’s schedule. So before you book a meeting ask yourself if you can solve the problem by just grabbing one or two of the people who are best suited to solve the problem, sometimes a quick call with the right people can save days.
If a group meeting is the best option follow these rules:
Every meeting has a detailed agenda.
We often lose time at the beginning of a meeting bringing everyone up to speed. This can be prevented by giving everyone an opportunity to prepare ahead of time.
All attendees should read the agenda prior to the meeting and come prepared with their input.
Be prepared, be prepared, BE PREPARED!
Appoint an attendee to take notes, the notes should be shared to the group post meeting
Make a list of action items and follow up tasks, these should all be assigned and agreed on at the end of the meeting.
If appropriate record the meeting so we can refer back to it.
Remote working is something that Vendo is happy to offer to most of the team. But with this privilege comes extra responsibility. When you are working out of the office it is your responsibility to make sure that everyone can reach you just as easily as if you were in the office. You should discuss working remotely with your department head before you make any plans. Everyone loves the idea that they might be able to spend a month working from the beach in Cuba, but the reality is that this is something you need to work your way up to and demonstrate that it won’t affect your communication and quality of work. Unfortunately we’ve had to make people come home early from their dream working vacation because it was affecting their work. We don’t want to have to do that again, so come to us for coaching before making any big plans.
Increasingly Vendo is building our social media presence, we are active on Facebook and Twitter and we have a podcast but we need your support. Everyone in the company should be following along with our social media and joining the conversation where appropriate. Our podcast is a great way to learn about our partners and our approach to our business.