In the last four years, SocialCops has moved offices three times, welcomed hundreds of new partners onto our platform, and celebrated countless milestones in the development of our Collect app and deployments. Our team has also grown by leaps and bounds to over 50 members. The people who find their way to SocialCops are extraordinarily diverse, yet they’re all motivated by the desire to power incredible impact while learning and growing from the people around them.
As our team grows, we are constantly re-thinking how to push the ways in which we work together. A strong company culture has always been core to us at SocialCops. We’ve spoken about it widely, and we hold “culture fit” at the core of our hiring process. But as we scaled, the term “culture” became more and more ambiguous. It became difficult to assess candidates objectively for “culture fit” because every interviewer’s definition of “culture” was different. We increasingly saw the need to identify the true cultural values of SocialCops.
After quite a bit of reading about how companies define their cultural values, we came across this gem of a report from Harvard Business Review.
As the report suggests, values can’t be created. Instead, we needed to look back on the pivotal moments in our history — the actions that had defined the way we made difficult decisions or chose the way forward. We convened our most veteran teammates, and with the help of a “Mars Group” exercise, pulled out six values that we believe have shaped our growth and mission from the very beginning. With each value, we asked ourselves:
Now we finally have names for the cultural values we’ve always been acting upon, and we keep overhearing them in daily conversations. Not to mention, they’ve found a wall for themselves in our office!
Most recently, I caught up with a few teammates to chat about what those values actually feel like at SocialCops. Keep reading to see for yourself!
Bias for Action
First and foremost is a bias for action. Cited originally as one of Amazon’s leading principles, this belief also rings true at SocialCops. When we see a problem, our instinct is to tackle it head on.
We will always value people who believe in actions — those who think big and turn their dreams into work toward our goals. We encourage each other to push boundaries and carry out our ideas. Sometimes even a bad decision is better than no decision!
Never Be Satisfied
Every day, our teams put their heads together to think about the impossible. We think big here, and the resolve to never be satisfied is one that we care deeply about maintaining. We refuse to get too comfortable in our skin. We push ourselves to do more. Individually, we trust each other to hold one another accountable to growing ourselves and our work exponentially, every single day.
While building the DISHA dashboard in partnership with the Ministry of Rural Development, our team came across an opportunity to go above and beyond, but knew that it might come with consequences.
I asked Gaurav what “success” at SocialCops looks like. “Great, but brief”, he laughed, “because then you follow it up with another attempt or initiative.”
Gaurav’s right, for every success there’s probably a fail that came along with it. We support each other in taking the time to learn new tools and innovate, even if that means learning from the mistakes that come along with it. But that doesn’t mean we always agree with each other! In fact, our ability to foster an environment where feedback is freely and openly given is something that our co-founders stood by from the very start.
Being straightforward is not only encouraged but expected at SocialCops. At the beginning of 2017, we decided to implement quarterly 360 reviews — a feedback process that allows team members to receive feedback from their peers, colleagues and team leaders, and complete a self-assessment of their work during the previous quarter. But at SocialCops, there is an understanding that if you’re not continually and proactively giving feedback — especially when it’s time sensitive or in reaction to an incident — you’re actually doing your teammates a disservice.
Christine recalls a time when she spent two hours debating with Prukalpa about the company’s next steps. She says Prukalpa “took it in stride” and instead of shutting down the conversation, said “Let’s talk about it.”
Being straightforward is key at SocialCops. To solidify this value, the team went back and forth debating the idea of “transparency” versus “straightforwardness”, and turned to the guiding questions from the HBR article to help resolve this debate. While the two cultural values certainly overlap in the quest for open and honest communication, we realized that transparency implies disseminating information, regardless of context or consequence. Like many tech companies, we use public Slack channels to increase the transparency across our teams and frequently hold AMA sessions with our co-founders. But we also understand that there are times when holding confidential and/or sensitive information will critical. Being straightforward with the information and ideas that we do share, however, was something we could commit to no matter what the situation.
In addition to encouraging the free flow of ideas and opinions, another expectation is that we are all giving 120% — making sure that our current work is executed to the best of our abilities. This means not just repeating a mundane process, but raising the bar each time we do it. It means taking the time to think about how we can work smarter and faster, how we can save time, and how we can make each others’ lives easier.
As a newer member of the company, Himanshu noticed this value in his SocialCops teammates immediately:
Problem First, Solution Second
Recently, there was about a month of time when a small potted plant was circulated around the office. Propped up in the dirt was a sign that read “THE BIG PICTURE”. This is a phrase something you’ll hear often at SocialCops.
Problem first, solution second is how we like to approach things. The new features that our engineers build on our mobile app or visualizations are a direct result of what our users need — from the data auditors on the ground without internet, to the decision makers in the central government who want clear insights. Our clients may have a pretty good idea of what they want, but we take it upon ourselves to dig a little deeper into the why. If our platform or our solution fulfills the contract but doesn’t actually solve their problem or the challenge they’re trying to address, we haven’t done our job.
Lastly is the value of one team. This comes into play both in and out of the office. We take the time to get to know each other — often over meals or games of Captain’s Ball — because we know that forming those personal bonds makes us a stronger company.
Every company goes through ups and downs, but we come together to face challenging times head on, and we’ll use every opportunity we get to build a more resilient team.
We are a team of engineers, data scientists and entrepreneurs united by one common belief — that data intelligence can play a role in solving the world’s most critical challenges. Come, build with us! Learn more about our open positions here.