You’ll find this document to be a set of guidelines; it is rich in context and principles and light in formulas and prescriptions. You’ll soon discover that we like autonomy and we treat people as adults. We like clarity, but we don’t confuse clarity with a set of detailed instructions. If you have some questions you can’t find written answers for, don’t worry. We trust you to figure some things out on your own, and if you don’t, just ask. We trust those around you to guide you and we hope you’ll return the favor.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Our long-term vision is to catalyze the tech community in Iași and create a strong ecosystem of product companies.
Hindawi is the first company we've brought into our local community, and we're looking forward to many more following. Their open-source peer review system is developed as part of Hindawi’s collaboration with the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation.
In Thinslices we act according to the following values. We understand not all of them will appeal to you equally, but to some degree, you should be comfortable with all of them, or you’re likely to have a tough time being successful here. They are our norms of behavior. This is how we treat each other, our clients and our partners.
Change is the only constant. Embrace it!
Every pain is an opportunity
Be part of the solution
Care for your teammate
Lend a hand
Win together (lose together)
Sweep nothing under the rug
Empower by sharing information
Be receptive to feedback and new ideas
Find the root cause (ask the 5 whys)
Plan before you act
Solve like an engineer
Take commitment seriously
Go the extra mile
Our most relevant “unit” is the project team, and we’ve developed the entire company around this essential component. We are trying to develop high-performance teams to build and deliver world-class technology products to our clients. As such, our structure includes the following:
Instead of organizing team members into departments depending on their job titles, we strive to create high-performance teams based on a unique combination of people attributes and the Agile mindset, as follows:
We don’t like to formalize things too much. We’re not the kind of people that like to build high walls between ourselves. We are all one team and our success is dependent on our collaboration.
Not only the engineer that chases abstract dreams without any connection to the world around them, and not only the one that wants to help, but doesn’t have the skills to do it.
In the end, what endures is that we will have solved real problems for real people. We will have made the lives of some people better by building working solutions for issues that matter to them.
You should understand your client, their needs, their environment and always try to give them the best solution that you can think of.
Don’t be a code monkey!
Under no circumstances will we ship something that doesn’t work. No schedule will make us do this, no yelling manager will make us do this.
If it is crap we will not ship it!
When you write code you should take into consideration possible scenarios that will change requirements of the product. These changes shouldn’t end up into a rewrite or impossible estimations.
You must not give horrible estimates and you must not let the system reach a point where redesign is a must!
When you see something in the code that is wrong, clean it instantly without fear, without hesitation.
You should clean and refactor the code with fearlessness and competence!
You should go home every night and look in the mirror and say: “Man, I did an awesome job today!”.
You should always know that you did the best job that you could do!
You should learn someone else’s job and know what they are doing. If a team member is absent the team should be able to continue the project.
Team members have each others’ backs!
The most honest estimate is I don’t know. You should find out what you don’t know and provide the range of the estimation.
People rely on your estimates!
You were hired because you think before taking action. You are the ones who know and the only ones who have the knowledge to say No.
When you say Yes you make a promise and you will do whatever it takes to deliver on it. The worst is to say “I will try”!
Our managers will see you working and will have an opinion about your performance, but don’t rely on them to have the complete full picture and come to you, as if from a position of knowing everything, and tell you how things stand.
They rely on you to tell them what you’ve been doing. And, most of all, they rely on you to be given and to ask for frequent feedback from those that are working with you directly. In short remember this: you are your own master. You know how you’re doing and you know when you want to get it. Ask for advice, and it will be given. Ask for feedback, and it will be given. But you have to ask, and you have to make the final decision on what’s right for you.
How and to which degree you meet the objectives you've established together with your team leader will be a key factor in measuring performance.
How is your team doing? Are you contributing to the team performance with more than your individual work?
With your skills and productivity, what value have you created to the client or the company? Are you solving real problems, are you focusing on real needs?
We expect you to perform a self-assessment based on the value you know you have created and based on the feedback from your mentors. Management may have their own view on the value you've delivered, and if the two assessments differ there will be a conversation. Management will assess you based on the information that has reached them, so if you want them to know what great things you’ve done, make sure to tell them.
At a more fundamental level, what is our understanding of performance? How do we decide if it’s good or bad? Both for ourselves and for others.
We measure some things objectively in our performance, but we recognize that there will always be a need for good judgment and a degree of subjectivity. Use your experience, use your common sense. Expect your manager to do the same. Engage in honest and open conversation to bridge gaps when they come up. Dialogue and feedback are more important than measurement.
Working hard is good and we’ll need to do that, but we like working smart even more. Effort is good, but creating value is better. We look at impact, at results, at innovation, client satisfaction, productivity gains.
Feedback is someone that cares enough to tell you what they think about you, in the hope that you’ll find the information useful. They may not have all the facts and they may not have interpreted some things accurately. That’s fine, they’re not saying you suck, they’re just calling it as they see it, from their point of view. It’s always better for you to know what they think, rather than to not know.
Thank the colleague who gave you feedback and remember to return the favor when you can.
The best feedback is short, even less than a minute, given on the spot and it is specific. As a general rule, we’re a pretty straightforward company and we don’t go to extremes in sugarcoating what we say. That having been said, do pay some consideration to people’s feelings. We all have them. Praise in public, criticize in private.
In Thinslices, learning is so important that we’ve taken the time to define some structure around it and have made the decision to invest (time & money) in it. We can’t function without deliberate learning. Without it, we don’t evolve as individuals, we don’t perform as teams, we don’t improve and we don’t innovate.
The company sees learning as a key aspect of our success. We have therefore developed what we call the learning process, which revolves around this key statement:
Each Team Member is expected to apply distinct effort towards learning, aside from the actual working time. This time will be evaluated using the following reference:
Regardless of the level we are at or the particulars of the job we’re doing we all need to evolve. Our learning affects:
All in all, we learn so that a year from now our life will be visibly better than it is now.
As part of the formal learning process or not, one of the best ways to learn is on the job. Especially with juniors, sometimes the most effective way to accelerate their growth is to embed them in a team, even if they are not billable, or for that matter very productive. The simple fact of being close to a real team, helping with real problems, being guided by experienced colleagues is, very often, a better way to learn than theoretical study and theoretical exercises.
Not everyone needs to be the “head” of something in order to be successful, appreciated and well rewarded. You just need to be great at what you do. We don’t have many titles or formal grades or seniority levels anyway.
We don’t like titles and positions too much. A leadership position, for us, is a set of responsibilities that someone decides to take on. You can be recommended for a position by your manager, by a colleague or through your own work & results.
We don't appoint people. Even if your direct manager comes to talk to you about taking on a leadership position, the decision to accept or refuse the set of responsibilities it comes with rests solely with you.
We use a tool called the People Analyzer, from the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) detailed in the book Traction by Gino Wickman. Briefly, there are two stages to this tool. Firstly, we validate the candidate against our company values using +, - or ±. Secondly, we validate the candidate against the GWC formula, which stands for get it, want it and the capacity to do it.
There's no cap on how many leaders there can be in Thinslices. If you're great at what you do and you're recommended for a leadership position, you have to go through the People Analyzer, accept the new position and own it.
At Thinslices we’ve implemented an open salary ranges policy.
We’ve done open salaries since Q2 2016. In the past two years we've moved from open salaries to open salary ranges to make sure we're compliant with legal requirements and data privacy.
Because every team and every project have a unique context, in 2018 we started working on a new way of determining salary ranges, based on the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition. We’ll refer to it as DMOSA (and its initial 4 stages).
This new system allows for a holistic approach, that relies on experience gained through practice and looks at the behavior of a contributor to evaluating the level of his skill development. Each DMOSA stage has a salary range for it.
What's important to keep in mind is that we are looking at the practical experience for each stage, rather than theoretical knowledge.
We started by creating a common definition of what a salary is. Next, we agreed on a list of factors determining a salary. These are:
Every role has its own skill tree, based on the 4 initial DMOSA stages: Novice, Advanced beginner, Competent and Proficient.
Together with your team lead, you set objectives based on the project/company objectives, as well as on your learning plan towards the next DMOSA stage.
Based on any data we can gather directly, independent reports, etc.
Projected cash-flow situation in the next 6 months.
You (almost) fully control A and B.
Your influence on C and D is limited. We're actively working on finding new ways for you to have a bigger influence on D. To that effect, everyone in Thinslices has a number that is connected to their team's objectives, which, in turn, are connected to the business objectives.
In terms of process, we expect you to use feedback, personal observation and mentors to self-evaluate yourself along the dimensions above. Management will evaluate you in the same way. Management may or may not have all the information. When a significant difference occurs, dialogue and discussion will bridge the gap.
We believe in giving teams autonomy. Not just formally.
We encourage every team to think like a business. They have the autonomy to decide how they want to work to deliver a project, how they assign tasks between members and how they onboard new team members. They choose the tools they want to use, they decide how they want to spend their team budget, and they manage their learning journeys as well as their evaluations, in the Thinslices context.
The context is comprised of the Thinslices vision, values, work methodology, processes, and general meetings.
Strategy and direction, at whatever level and to whatever level of detail, doesn’t mean decisions are made for you. You still make decisions about your career. Strategy, however, informs you on where the company is going and what we think you’ll need in order to be successful.
We use the VTO tool from EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System), which stands for Vision/Traction Organizer. Using this tool, we've mapped out a 10-year target, a 3-year picture, 1-year plan, and quarterly rocks. Every team has to align with the numbers we've set in our 1-year plan, by setting team rocks and having a team number which translates into a number for every team member.