We believe the most important unit of success in a company is learning. That’s right, it’s not revenue or profit or growth rate. We feel that when we deeply understand something, why it worked or didn’t work, we can apply that new knowledge to improve. If our company continually does that, we will be incredibly successful over time. The faster we learn, the faster we grow. In order to learn, we must be great listeners. In order to apply what we learn, we must teach. That’s where our working principle to continually listen, learn, and teach was born.
Being a good listener is really tough. We have to remove any bias and put ourselves in the shoes of whomever is talking. We need to empathize. This is easier said than done.
When listening, it is so easy to think about and focus on how we can get our point across. We all like to be heard and “win” an argument. We need to pause that desire when listening. The goal when listening should not be to build up an argument. The end objective is about getting to the truth. We can only start the cycle of getting to the truth by listening and understanding other perspectives.
There is tons of material about being a good listener. Start with HBR’s “What Great Listeners Actually Do“.
Learning is about experimentation. Define a hypothesis, run a test, and prove it correct or incorrect. With either result, you have learned. However, it takes a disciplined and measured approach to experiment. Continually running unstructured trial and error tests will not maximize learning. This is true in science, but also in sales, marketing, product development and even general management.
We understand that experimentation means risk. People generally shy away from experiments that might fail, so we need to ensure we have incentive systems in place that favor risk taking.
One of the most important steps is teaching others. Some say that passing on information and knowledge is the essence of existence, even to the point of passing on DNA. We make it a part of our cultural DNA to pass on our learning. This means spending the time to accurately and concisely document what we learned and ensuring we set a teaching rhythm.
We know we must teach by openly reviewing our successes and failures, assessing them systematically, and memorializing the lessons in a form that people find open, accessible, and fun.
Feel free to read more about our company principles.