Last fall, after watching Simon Sinek’s excellent TEDx presentation, we started pondering a surprisingly difficult question: Why does Futurice, as a company, exist? What do we believe in? The answer was something that we could feel, but not put into words very easily.
Why is this such an important question? For one, the answer allows you to form a much deeper connection with outsiders – clients, potential employees – than by telling what you do or how you do it. People relate to what you believe in, not what you do. If we can form a stronger bond with a person, it is much easier to work with them.
The second reason why the question is so important is that it guides our decision making. “3x2” (aka. “Is this decision good for clients, our employees and our financial numbers, now and in the future?”) is a great rule of thumb for everyday decisions, but sometimes we need help for larger questions. A good example of this is our strategy. Everyone at Futurice can participate in building it, which occasionally results in tangents. If everyone has a clear picture of why we exist as a company, it is easier to guide these tangents into a direction that they can stand behind. It also allows us to say no to things that would be interesting or fun to do, but don’t support our reason for being.
After months of discussions, iterations and rewriting, we finally feel that we’ve been able to put into words the reasons why people come to work every morning. They can be boiled down into the following three points:
Even though we’ve come very far, the digitalization of the world is still in its infancy. An ever-increasing part of our lives are being moved into the digital world. Digitalization offers societies countless ways to improve the lives of its people. We believe that software will act as the backbone of the societies of tomorrow. We believe that in order to have a healthy society, we need software of exceptional quality that solves the right problems.
As software experts, we believe that we can have the most far-reaching effect as software development consultants – consultants in the broader sense of the word, meaning people who come from outside an organization to help with a specific problem. As outsiders, we can more easily question prevailing establishments and improve upon the status quo. Having worked with clients from a wide range of industries, we have a broader view of the software field, which helps us ask the right questions and find the right problems.
We can focus on being the world’s best in a (relatively) narrow, specific field: producing value with software.
Even though software touches just about every aspect of society, it does not mean that everyone should become experts in building and designing software. Organizations should focus on their main business or function, i.e. what they are trying to achieve. This means that there will always be a demand for outsider experts to help with getting the most value out of software and its related processes.
We believe that happy, motivated people do the best work. Happy employees, happy customers and a successful business are closely interlinked. However, as soon as you start focusing solely on “how can we make Futurice employees as happy as possible?”, you start traveling down a dangerous path. Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. If you start focusing on how to maximize employee happiness, your focus turns inwards, and you are likely to lose sight of what makes people happy in the long run: having meaningful work.
We want people to enjoy work itself. We want work to fulfill people’s professional needs. And we want people to have their professional and personal lives in balance, being able to forget work at home and relax. All these things are factors that lead to a wholesome, joyful life.
We all know that it is possible to build a small or medium-sized company that has happy and motivated people. Futurice is an experiment; we’re trying to see if it is possible to scale up to a large (500+ people) company that is both successful and sustainable that is filled with happy and motivated people. If we’re successful, we want to share what we learn. We believe that a society full of happy and motivated people is a better society as a whole.
There you have it. We’re sure we will tweak this message in the future, but we’re also sure that, on a a high level, this is why we exist as a company. Have you answered this question for your workplace?