Core Values of Frappe
Values and culture define what a company really is.
· 5 min read
Values and culture define what a company really is. Values tell what is important, and culture reinforces that important things get done. Values cannot exist without a culture that enforces them, and neither can culture exist without a set of values an organization believes in.
Why have culture and values in the first place?
To run a great organization, everything is important, right? Why pick arbitrary things and say these are more important? Well, everything is important, but not all things are equal, specially when you have to make a decision. On many occasions, we are faced with a choice, like should I ship a feature or test it a bit more? Here if the organization emphasizes on quality over speed, I probably should spend that extra bit of time testing, ensuring no bugs get spilled over. But if the organization is built for speed over quality, then I know that downstream there are systems that will allow me to quickly fix and deploy a fix if users report any bugs, and users too know that they get a lot more features shipped if they are willing to tolerate a few issues that get resolved quickly.
An organization where people know what to prioritize, results in better co-ordination and execution, and everyone knows how the everyone else in the team is thinking.
Values are the building blocks of organizations and cultures
At Frappe, these are the set of values we have defined for ourselves:
Our most important value is excellence, the aspiration to do things that are outstanding. Apple is one of our biggest inspirations. We appreciate the quality of craftsmanship and care that goes into minor product decisions, the integrity in design across systems that ensure a trustworthy and predictable user experience. We also aspire to leave all our customers with a feeling of awesomeness when they interact with our product or services. For this we believe in understanding our work deeply, finding innovative solutions, iterating till we find the perfect balance and delight, and rigorous training for all our team members. For us growth is an outcome of excellence, not the other way around.
We believe that we can accomplish more as a team than individuals. Great talent can create sparks of sustained brilliance, but it is never complete. Taking the example of a team sport like football, you need eleven players to make a team. The strikers take all the glory with goal scoring, but you still need a strong defense if you want to win. Great teams almost always pass well. Teamwork means understanding the people you interact with to achieve the team goal, spending time with them and learning to take subtle hints and clues from them, and ensuring you share the same culture. It means helping them when it, and making sure they understand your needs to help you when you need it. When a team faces ups and downs together, long journeys become even more rewarding.
Transparency and Honesty
Unlike Apple, we believe in keeping things transparent with all the stake holders, including customers, team members and even society at large. Most of our source code is free for anyone to use, study, modify and redistribute, and our flagship product, ERPNext comes in just one free version. For our customers, our pricing and services are transparent on the website. For team members, all the financial data is accessible internally and our salaries are also known to each other. Transparency leads to accountability and accountability leads to honesty. This means that at times we lose the ability to tactically put one against another, or leave money on the table, but in the long run, being transparent is very scalable, as you don’t have to remember the lies you have told every time. Companies that are honest are much more trustworthy and less prone to hubris and groupthink.
Just because there is a popular way to do things, we believe it is not always the best. The default option is to take an existing solution and make it a bit better, but sometimes starting from a blank state is a also good idea. Since our earliest days, we have written our own web framework, with distinct concepts that make us highly productive. We believe that this is our superpower. Building our own platforms, libraries, management systems are all examples of starting from first principles. Starting from first principles can also make you reinvent the wheel but it also gives a lot of insight that can be very useful in tough situations. First principles are also places where great ideas can be discovered that can never be found with incrementalism.
Long Term over Short Term
We want our products and services to be used and appreciated for a very long time. This means sacrificing some short term gains and wait for the longer returns. For example, for many years we did not invest in sales or marketing, as our focus was to build an excellent product. It took us more than ten years to reach a stage where we thought that the product deserved to be marketed. While some people may think of us as unambitious, we think that it is really important to get the product architecture and systems absolutely right if we have to be successful over a very long time. This means that we prioritize process over outcome and systems over targets. Thinking long term also leads us to asset creation along with delivery. For example, it is great to deliver a good training session, but if you record it, edit it and upload to YouTube, it will be there for repeated viewing over time, leading to a longer benefit.
Along with this there are also other values we believe in like frugality, equality, empathy, clarity and experimentation. These build on our core values, for example excellence requires clarity, transparency leads to accountability leads to equality. Teamwork helps us build empathy and starting from first principles leads to experimentation.
Love what we do? Frappe is always looking for talented, detail oriented and creative people to join our team. Learn more at https://frappe.io/careers
Rushabh is a software developer and founder of ERPNext. He usually writes about the startup experience, open source and the technologies he is working on.
Some basic observations, although you as an author would have thought about it but mentioning here for eliciting some clarity from you. A business is about creating value for its customers, and in the process generate some/moderate profit/benefit for itself. So, who is your Customer ? Clearly defining who is your customer (and who is NOT) helps a lot in then defining/sharpening the Core values. Then teamwork means all team members knowing exactly what other team members are supposed to do or what they are best at doing in a given situation (Goal). Team has to be prepared to dynamically reconfigure themselves depending upon the game situation, or phase in product development, say. So the Teamwork as a core value is "Implied" by how we want to do things, and what are rules of the game, like Transparency (which means knowing what others are doing), excellence/quality/long-term (means good cooking will take time), etc. But the choice of putting the Customer in the loop (and then defining core values) is entirely yours. Amazon and many Service oriented companies put customer at the centre, while Apple and such real Innovators, Do not ! So if you are like Apple, general core values are fine as defined here. But if you believe Customer has an important role to play in your business, you might consider.