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We’re glad you’re here.

This handbook covers some of the key elements of the Thinslices culture: what our vision and values are, what we mean by being good, what our internal structure looks like, how we measure performance, how we look at salary and rewards, as well as how you should use this information.

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.

So, go on, try it. Do your best. Use your judgment. Make your own mistakes. Don’t wait to be told. Don’t wait to be given permission. The team is here to support you, but don’t expect someone to hold your hand.

Using this document

This document starts its life in a wiki where all elephants can edit & add whatever they like. They debate, discuss and engage.

Every now and then, Thinslices will take the latest version of the document, review it and discuss it if needed, and will issue an official update.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

OUR VISION

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.

OUR VALUES

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.

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Team player

We care for our team mates and lend a hand when needed. We win and lose together.

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Entrepreneurial attitude

Every pain is an opportunity and we embrace change as the only constant. We encourage people to be part of the solution.

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Openness

We sweep nothing under the rug. We discuss matters openly, we include every relevant information and we're receptive to feedback and new ideas.

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Engineering mindset

Planning is important to us. We solve issues using an engineering mindset and we start with the root cause.

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Diligence

We're hard-working and we go the extra mile to deliver our commitments.

These values are meant to represent specific things in our day to day work, not to be put on a wall and forgotten.

Our Structure

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:

  • Project teams
  • Team One (leadership team)
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Admin & Finance
  • Los Mojitos (in charge of the company mojo)

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:

People Attributes

  • Love for tech
  • Support
  • Trust
  • Patience
  • Engagement
  • Humor
  • Compatibility
  • Cooperation
  • Adaptability
  • Friendliness
  • Courage
  • Enthusiasm
  • Altruism

Agile Mindset

  • Satisfy the customer's needs through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.
  • Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Work together daily throughout the project with business people.
  • Convey information to and within a development team through face-to-face conversation.
  • Promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  • Pay continuous attention to technical excellence and good design.
  • Reflect at regular intervals on how to become more effective, then tune and adjust behavior accordingly.

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.

Being Good

There’s two halves to being good:

  • One is the craftsmanship of our trade. Writing good clean code. Making realistic plans. Good designs. And so on.
  • The other half is being useful. Helping people. We are good when we produce value, and value is work that satisfies a need. We are good when we know our craft and we use it to add value to our client and those around us by solving their most pressing problems.

Both halves are essential.

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.

Thinslices Playbooks

The Thinslices Software Developer understands and adheres to the Software Professional Manifesto. They are T-Shaped Software Developers, Responsible Engineers, Software Craftsmen.

The Software Professional Manifesto

Know what you are building

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!

Don’t deliver bad products

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!

Write clean and maintainable code

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!

Don’t be afraid to tackle any challenge

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!

Quality should be your goal

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!

Take care of each other

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!

Give honest estimates

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!

Learn to say “No”

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”!

Measuring Performance

When it comes to measuring someone’s performance, our philosophy is simple. First, we rely on you to do most of the measuring and be the truest judge of your own performance.

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.

This is our definition of performance

Individual Skills

Every role has its own skill tree, on which you can advance. Individual performance will be measured based on where you are on the skill tree, on the transition between "branches" and your potential to continue climbing the tree.

Objectives

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.

Project Team Performance

How is your team doing? Are you contributing to the team performance with more than your individual work?

Value Created

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 a Gift

Feedback has nothing to do with hierarchy. Anyone can and should give feedback to anyone. Feedback is not judgment. Feedback is not absolute truth.

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.

Learning

Learning is a big concept and it means different things to different people. We all have different learning styles, preferences and routines, and that’s ok.

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.

Learning process

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:

  • 5H / week out of personal time
  • 10 full days per year out of company time

Regardless of the level we are at or the particulars of the job we’re doing we all need to evolve. Our learning affects:

  • our personal performance
  • the quality of our interactions and their result
  • the need to create a better environment for us to work in
  • our satisfaction with our own progress and quality

All in all, we learn so that a year from now our life will be visibly better than it is now.

Learning on the job

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.

Promoting People

If there’s one thing to know about Thinslices, it’s that everyone here is doing a good and valuable job, or they wouldn’t be here. You are welcome to dream big and aim to change the company, but there’s no pressure to do that.

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.

Leadership positions

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.

The process of becoming a leader

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 itwant 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.

Salary and Rewards

At Thinslices we’ve implemented an open salaries policy.

We’ve done open salaries since Q2 2016. To implement this policy we ensure that:

  • Everyone has a common understanding of what a salary represents, what market value is, what fair value is, what the factors determining a salary are.
  • Everyone knows where they sit personally in terms of what salary they can expect to get.
  • Everyone knows what they can do to increase their salary.
  • Everyone is encouraged to actively collect information and feedback from colleagues, as opposed to passively wait for a manager to come and tell them what they’re worth.
  • Everyone has the information they need to demonstrate the value they create, and they can use it in a conversation with their manager about their salary expectations and what they’re willing to do for it.

Briefly, everyone should understand why they’re paid what they’re paid, decide if they want more, understand what they need to do for it, set and have the conversation with the manager.

We've never been ones for tradition for the sake of it. More often than not, salary ranges don't take into account that the skills of one person in a certain context are not equivalent to those of someone else in a different context.

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. 

How was this implemented?

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:

A. Skill Trees

Every role has its own skill tree, based on the 4 initial DMOSA stages: Novice, Advanced beginner, Competent and Proficient.

B. Objectives

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.

C. Market Prices in Iasi

Based on any data we can gather directly, independent reports, etc.

D. Financial Performance of Thinslices

Projected cash-flow situation in the next 6 months.

When we talk about salaries, everyone (management and colleagues alike) is looking at these factors. There is no strict formula. There will always be room for judgment, subjectivity, and dialogue. This is the framework around which the conversations will be held.

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.

Leadership Practices

We believe in giving teams autonomy. Not just formally.

Every team is autonomous

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.

Direction & Strategy

You have noticed by now that the underlying idea of this handbook is “inform yourself and make your own decisions”. We trust you to do that.

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.

Become an elephant

Check the link below to see what positions are currently open. 

If you're keen on becoming an elephant but don't see an opening for a specific job, you can upload your CV using the link below and we'll get back to you as soon as a position opens in your area of expertise.

See all job openings  >