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How we've built and fostered a tech culture at Vise

By Andrew Fong

“How would you describe your culture”?

Every candidate who interviews at Vise asks me this question. 

Our culture, and ultimately the North Star for the Tech Teams at Vise, is composed of three pieces: a belief, a purpose, and a set of values that guide us. 

  • We believe technology expands human capabilities. 

  • We exist at Vise to maximize product iteration sustainably.

  • We do this through being trustworthy, being inclusive, and striving for excellence in how we behave and what we ship to our users. 

This is what shapes us and provides the compass for us to make day-to-day decisions. We use these in all aspects of our job, from technical decision-making in an architecture review to the hire/no hire decision in a debrief. 

Beliefs

A belief is a view about the world and how it works. It guides you and gives you a direction for your future actions. When you truly believe, a belief gives you power to shape the environment around you. 

At Vise, our belief that technology expands human capabilities is what shapes our systems, processes, priorities, and workflows that we build for both our internal and external customers.

For example, when designing our software and systems stack, we consider the ergonomics of our APIs and developer tooling. We want to maximize our (human) ability to produce tested, correct, and well-designed systems. 

Specifically, we choose to ensure that our development environment is fully repeatable and testable, allowing any engineer to modify it safely. By doing this we expanded the capabilities of the team and empowered more of us to help.

Purpose

Our purpose is the reason for our existence at Vise. It is why we show up to work every day. Purpose helps us shape our solutions and drive us to act as a united front.

At Vise, our purpose is to maximize product iteration sustainably. Each of these words was picked with great intention. 

Maximize means hitting 100% in our current phase; we know we will evolve and each day we will need to reassess if we are maximizing our impact.

Product is the heart of Vise. Our users internally and externally expect a world-class experience. Our goal is to focus intensely on our customers, as suggested by our company value of “Solve for the Customer.”

Iteration means we are doing and learning. It means pushing the status quo and trying new things and incorporating those learnings into Vise. It resonates with our company value of “Valuing Growth.”

Sustainably means we must consider the debt and emotional toil of maintaining systems. There are limits to humans and systems, and we must be cognizant of them in our plans. 

Strung together, this outlines an optimization function that, over the long term, will ensure world-class outcomes for our product. 

Values

Values guide our behaviors and decision-making on a day-to-day basis. Our values form the cornerstone of our behaviors.

Inclusive: We value diverse opinions; we want to create a place where the best ideas emerge through productive conversations. 

Trustworthy: Act with integrity, do the right thing when no one is looking, show up when you say you will, and always respond to your emails.

Strive For Excellence: Every day we must show up to push the bar. If we do not, the status quo will stick and we will stagnate. We must embrace change in pursuit of more. 

How did we arrive at these?

Hopefully, you can see that we have put considerable thought into each word in our Belief, Purpose, and Values. Getting here was a group effort amongst senior technical leadership, which included a cross-section of managers and engineers. We took part in a multi-hour exercise that we continuously reaffirm as an organization during our monthly all-hands, OKR planning sessions, and weekly emails. 

This framework and these principles are the most sacred part of working on the Tech Teams at Vise. We expect every person that joins to embrace them and live them. Using this as our foundation, we have produced system schematics, shipped systems, and developed interviewing best practices that ensure the best outcome for Vise. 

If this resonates with you, we’d love for you to join us!

September 17, 2021