Focus, Ambition, Integrity, Talent and Humor.
About our Values
We have FAITH: Focus, Ambition, Integrity, Talent and Humor.
Many people are joining Camunda, some of them working in different places all over the world. We want to make sure those people can thrive in our cultural environment, by paying attention to this question during the hiring and onboarding process. We avoid the term “cultural fit” because it sounds as if newcomers had to assimilate and discard the culture they bring. That would be a shame and we would love our culture to be evolving and inspired by newcomers. What we should preserve however (and perhaps aspire) are the fundamental principles that make Camunda a great place to work. We call these our values, and the question is not if a newcomer is a “cultural fit” but if they truly share our values and are ready to comply with them.
The values described below are based on the FAITH structure we worked out some years ago. They are the result of observations and personal convictions, and also inspired by GitLab and other companies.
From day one, we have been obsessed with staying focused, for example by focusing on BPMN as a consulting topic in the early days of Camunda. While talent and ambition give you the ability and drive to achieve extraordinary results, focus makes sure you apply these traits in a way that has maximum impact. We typically have an abundance of ideas, but impulsively following every idea will lead to distraction. By avoiding distraction you will stay persistent and eventually overcome any impediment that stands between you and your vision.
Start with the goal.
We always wonder, “What do we want to achieve?” With the defined goal in mind we work our way backwards to decide on specific actions. A possible action is not per se “right” or “wrong”, but only more or less suited to pursue the defined goal. Objectives and Key Results (OKR) are one of the techniques we apply to implement this philosophy.
Prioritize and let go.
You can’t have it all: Resources are limited, especially time. For example, we can never build all the features we want or the customers ask for in our products. Pursuing too many goals simultaneously is like chasing butterflies. That means you always need to decide which goals are most important, and which ones you can let go, at least for now.
Stick to the plan.
Once we’ve made up our mind on a course of action, we execute it. Although we’re always open to reconsider, we do know that any course correction comes at the price of losing momentum. Because of that, we typically stick to a plan until the end of the defined period. For example, we execute against the defined OKR until the end of a quarter instead of diverting from them on the way.
We don’t change our strategy just because we don’t see immediate success – you cannot A/B test fundamental ideas. However, we do avoid the sunk cost fallacy and relentlessly trash even our most beloved pet project if appropriate.
We’re getting the most out of a limited resource, let it be time, money or anything else. Every euro (or dollar) we spend will have to be earned back, so we’re as frugal with company money as we are with our own. When asking others to invest their time, we never ask for more than necessary. We start meetings on time, kicked off by the person that invited to the meeting. That person sets the meeting’s objectives and will make sure we achieve them, often capturing the results in writing and sharing them with the attendees.
Once you have an idea, a vision, and you feel that urge to make this vision come true, you develop a certain kind of energy. Sometimes it’s about the big strategies, but more often about directly tangible achievements, like a new feature or a big customer. And once the vision comes true and the achievement is there, you immediately develop the next idea which becomes the next vision and creates that energy again. It’s that energy that makes us ambitious and impatient and life at Camunda so exciting.
We’re full of energy.
and we see Camunda as the perfect place to focus that energy and turn it into meaningful results. By implication, if you are often bored at work, this is an indicator you are not investing your lifetime in the appropriate role (also see Talent: Be true to yourself).
Setting stretch goals.
Pursuing goals that you will certainly achieve is boring, and eventually leads to mediocrity. This is why we’re aiming high, from the big annual targets all the way to the aspired objectives for the upcoming week. Missing a stretch goal can make you feel bad, but it’s much better than missing out on your potentials because you didn’t even try hard in the first place. While we are setting stretch goals for ourselves, we never overpromise when it comes to customers (see Integrity: Underpromise, overdeliver).
Get it out of the door.
We’re moving fast, and we prefer many small, quick improvements over fundamentally better results that take much longer to ship. When we see potential for a small improvement on our website, our product or our business process, we implement and publish it right away, instead of postponing it because “we are going to properly rework this later”. We do value quality, however getting something done that is “good enough” quickly is valued much higher than creating something “awesome” by spending tremendously more time on it.
Decisions are made by DRI.
Decisions are always made by one individual, the directly responsible individual (DRI), a term coined by Apple. A smart DRI will always listen to the ideas and thoughts of others, not shy away from fierce discussions or even casting a vote to get an atmospheric picture. At the end of the day however it’s the DRI’s call to make, just as the decision’s impact is their direct responsibility. Anyone who has a different opinion should disagree and commit. In general, the DRI’s line manager can overrule the DRI’s decision – however, this needs to be a rare exception since it indicates a lack of trust in the DRI’s judgement and will hurt the DRI’s sense of ownership.
Advice, Request, Command.
When providing input to someone about their area of work, we always respect the DRI’s ownership and decision making power. In general, we distinguish between
- Advice: “I believe you could do it this way.” means “really just my two cents, totally up to you, feel free to ignore my input.”
- Request: “Could you please do it this way?” means “I have a specific stake which is why I am kindly asking you. If you refuse I’d like to understand why and at least try to convince you, but eventually it’s your call.”
- Command: “Do it this way.” means “I am the DRI for an activity domain you are contributing to, for example because I am your line manager. I am therefore asking you to follow my request, even if you do not agree with it.” . This is the very last resort and comes with a price (See Ambition: Decisions are made by DRI). An advice or request coming from your line manager should not be taken as a command – if you’re not sure, just ask point-blank how they mean it.
You own it, you owe it.
The DRI is empowered to make decisions because they are responsible for the respective result, for example because they own an OKR. A DRI can delegate subtasks to others, but never their responsibility. If you delegated a task to someone else and they did not deliver, do not use this as an excuse why you did not deliver yourself.
In order to move fast, we also value fast decisions and continuous progress. To that end, we do not wait for others unless absolutely necessary. For example, start your meetings on time even if not everyone is there yet, and if possible do not postpone a decision because someone is on vacation.
We want to be successful, but not at all costs. We have experienced that staying true to our principles has not hurt our success but helped it. We do not need to appear perfect, we are humans with all our flaws, but we’re self-confident and we respect, trust and help each other.
Honesty, Transparency and Candor.
towards ourselves, our customers, partners and investors. Being honest and transparent means both not telling lies nor withholding important facts. For example, when presenting our product we never pretend it would solve just any problem the customer comes up with, and when we are not able to deliver an agreed result in time, we communicate this proactively.
Being friendly and polite.
We’re firm in the matter, but always with a friendly tone.
Stick to agreements and promises.
We don’t make promises carelessly, and feel bound by them. Always be true to your word. Always capture important promises and agreements in writing (can be a simple summarizing email), do not expect people to remember what you agreed on verbally. If you have to remind someone of something you agreed on earlier, but you do not have that in writing, consider it your own fault.
Despite setting stretch goals for ourselves, we do not promise to our customers more than we can certainly deliver. In fact, we often promise less than that during negotiations, which gives us additional leeway and the opportunity to excite the customer by delivering even more than we promised.
We feel responsible.
for those that depend on us, especially for our employees. We never exploit our employees or take advantage of them.
Being professional and reputable.
We’re proud of providing the infrastructure technology for mission critical business processes. If our software goes down, it can cause severe damage for ourat our clients. Although we do not care for stifling formalities, we are well aware of our responsibility. We therefore behave in a professional and reliable way that supports building our reputation.
Purpose before ego.
If status matters to you, look elsewhere. At Camunda, we’re not interested in personal privileges. We’re self-confident, but not cocky, and value humbleness. We don’t need to defend a point to win an argument, and we don’t mind if our suggestion or idea is not taken into account by the DRI.
We support each other.
We’re always there to help each other, no matter if the help request falls into our domain of responsibility or not.
We’re down to earth.
We value quality, but we don’t need pretentious, upscale things to feel valued, nor do the people we truly care about, the users of our products. We would always prefer a decent, simple sandwich joint over a fancy restaurant.
Our team consists of people from all over the world, with different backgrounds and opinions. It is our responsibility to make Camunda a great place to work for all of us, by being considerate and empathetic for each other’s feelings. We value diversity, and we do not tolerate racism, sexism or any form of harassment, let it be physical or verbal.
We don’t impose our world view on others.
Valuing diversity also includes diversity of opinions, let them be political, religious or other. We do not discuss politics or religion at work because it is easy to alienate people who have a minority opinion. If need be however, each of us is encouraged to stand up for their personal values in a non-offensive way. In general, Camunda as a company stands firm by the liberal-democratic basic order, as defined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany.
It is incredibly rewarding to unfold your own talent and grow personally, as well as help and observe others doing the same. Camunda should be the place that allows you to unfold your talent. It is your manager’s responsibility to give you this opportunity, and your own to use it.
Be true to yourself.
Is your role at Camunda really what you’re not just good at, but great? Do you really love what you’re doing? If you have to force yourself to come to the office on a Monday morning, or you’re not sure if you’re actually unfolding your talent, this could mean you’re doing your duty, but you’re not following your true passion. In that case, an adjustment of your role could be the solution – approach your line manager about it. If that doesn’t work or isn’t available, look for opportunities outside Camunda. Do not waste your lifetime!
Be true to your report.
If you believe your report has the talent for the role they assume, challenge, coach and support them so they can grow into it. Set clear expectations and be candid if you see shortcomings. If you can, offer guidance in how to overcome them, but be aware that sometimes you cannot know how their job needs to be done since that is why you hired them in the first place. Invest your time in this process, rather than fixing your reports’ mistakes or micromanaging their work. If you do not see the necessary results or development, consider adjusting their role. If you think an adjustment or change of role is not an option, let them go. If you have to let them go, try to find a way with the minimum possible damage for all parties involved. This is your responsibility towards your report and your company.
Always accept that there is a lot where you can improve. Share your potential areas of improvement with your peers and line manager, asking for advice or support to make it happen. Critical self reflection is the basis for personal growth. Camunda will happily support your learning aspirations, let it be with books, seminars or personal coaching, as long as it can potentially help you in your role.
If we make mistakes or fail, we do not hesitate to acknowledge that and take the fall for it. This makes blame games and finger pointing obsolete, and displays a sense of ownership. There is no need to shy away from admitting a mistake: If you proactively acknowledge and reflect it, nobody will blame you, since it happens to all of us and is eventually the most effective driver for personal growth. It’s this philosophy that makes us fearless and helps setting stretch goals.
Praise emotionally, criticize factually.
We celebrate achievements or our colleagues’ support in public, for example in our ding dong emails, or at an all-hands. If we need to give negative feedback, we preferably do that in a face to face meeting and occasionally via email, but we never call someone out or generally moan and lament in public. When we discuss matters that bother us, we do it in a constructive, factual tone and avoid ranting.
Get out of your comfort zone.
You won’t grow if you keep doing the things you’re comfortable with. Personal growth happens when you encounter new challenges. Sometimes you’ll figure out that you’re just not made for the respective challenge – that’s ok, nobody needs to excel at just everything. However you should never avoid a challenge primarily because it means leaving your comfort zone.
Change means opportunity.
Success never happens in a static environment, but is always a mix of your own strategy and jumping on unexpected opportunities. Just like the world in general, Camunda is constantly changing. There is no sense in trying to preserve the status quo, even though we like it. Instead, we perceive any change we’re observing as the breeding ground for new opportunities we can not even think of yet. This applies to macro level changes, for example new market trends, as well as changes in our organization.
True Story: Jakob Freund presented these values at an all-hands meeting, several months after they were first documented. It was then that Thorben Lindhauer immediately pointed out that together they spell the word FAITH, – which was not intended during the making and a fact that Jakob never noticed before. So much for Talent.