Last year, DISQO started some significant work around defining and acting from our value system. We created two Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) - Diversity and Inclusion, and Social Impact. Both of these address critical ways to interact with others in our environment and our outside-of-work communities. In addition to the ERGs, we also defined our DISQO values. We initially gathered the proposed values through a survey sent to the whole company and refined them to the six we have today.
Our DISQO values are: Team, Trust, Create Impact, Innovation, Growth Mindset, and Transparency. These are not abstractions, and this article will outline how we live these values in our day-to-day work. I asked several of my colleagues within our engineering department what experiences come to mind for each of the DISQO values. These individuals come from different career tracks within our engineering organization - product management, software engineering, and data analysis.
This value boils down to the idea that we go further as a team than we do as separate individuals. In Collaborative Engineering at DISQO, Nej Kutcharian describes how teams work as a unit and collaborate with other teams. We’ll hear from different voices about this topic in this section.
Senior Product Manager David Arabyan works mainly with two engineering teams. He owns and prioritizes their backlog and ensures delivery and quality in coordination with our Armenia-based Director of Engineering. Plus, he is a key stakeholder for a few other teams and often relies on their delivery.
With so many dependencies across teams, David Arabyan must have an integrated sense of team. He says, “Teamwork is the lifeblood of product managers. You cannot achieve anything without it. As a product manager, your primary duty is to understand what your customers want and need, and bring those insights to the various teams that can ultimately help you create a product that meets those customer urges.”
Software Engineer Daniel Zamudio, who works on business to business microservices, says that within his team, “we always manage to reach a consensus based on the opinions and ideas that we have. The team comes first.”
Jackie Liu is a Senior Data Analyst and describes her typical day-to-day work as the following: “I query against our behavioral data to pull requested data for the sales team and our clients. During the process, I usually investigate unexpected data issues that can take me down several rabbit holes, which are my favorite parts of being a Data Analyst. I typically assist the sales team by fielding some of the loaded questions from our clients. I also spend some of my time consolidating any information on our Tableau reports to improve the user experience.”
When I prompt her to think of an experience that reflects DISQO’s team value, she says, “I work with the sales team daily, and the amount of work that gets accomplished requires every person to chip in. Email chains with 40+ emails have become the norm for me since working with the team, and it continues to amaze me how we manage to stay on top of client requests/questions. Clients are never left hanging when we work as a team.”
Trust is something earned, and our trust value motto is “we create trust by standing behind our commitments, doing what we say we will do.” David Arabyan says, “Having worked on multiple early-stage products already at DISQO; sometimes you don’t always have all the data and facts to make decisions and find the best path forward. It’s during times like this that you need to trust the vision of the leadership and, in turn, gain their trust as you become a subject matter expert of the product.”
Jackie Liu adds that “With all the numerous Slack groups, channels, and DMs (direct messages) going on, it’s hard to keep up sometimes. I have to trust others to investigate and follow up on data issues that I’ve discovered. That’s crucial because the data is going out to our clients.” Daniel Zamudio sees the reverberative effect of trust during his time at DISQO. He says, “trusting each other always helps you to generate more confidence in yourself.”
As a start-up, we stereotypically have a highly action-oriented mindset. Creating impact at DISQO means taking meaningful steps to implement ideas that matter. David Arabyan, who was able to shape some of our key OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) this year, emphasizes that there’s “no such thing as busy work at DISQO. The name of the game is to focus on and measure the things that matter. Our OKR framework and crawl-walk-run approach to complex problems ensure that we are maximizing the impact we create with our effort.”
Software Engineer Luis Padilla says, “We tackle not necessarily the biggest tasks first but the most needed ones. We use this approach when we determine the order in which we’re developing each microservice. The needs of the company and other teams are our priority.”
Innovation can be a buzzword when there’s no substance behind it, but we bring some tangibility to it through multiple means. The focus at DISQO is on gathering ideas from diverse perspectives, so we’re not locking into the status quo. On the data end, Jackie Liu says, “There is no shortage of ideas among the folks I’ve been working with at DISQO. We’ve got ideas to improve the behavioral data quality, structure the data for clients to use easily, and present insights from the data for potential clients. We’ve got ideas on consolidating data sources, building out more useful tables to improve query performance, and creating more insightful reports for our internal reporting teams. These ideas will not only make our tasks more efficient and resolve any pain points but also help our efforts in scalability.”
Daniel Zamudio lists off the things he thinks are promoting innovation (and stability through innovation) at DISQO: “health checks, 1-1, retros, and constantly looking for improvements/optimizations to give customers better experiences, more security, and stability.” On another practical level, Luis Padilla says that we sew innovation into our company fabric by holding space for technical debt. We always anticipate iterating on the work we’ve already done.
Having been at DISQO for over three years, David Arabyan can attest to the reality of innovation at DISQO. He says, “I have worked through many process changes, team structures, technology updates, and product innovations that were the results of our love for questioning the status quo.”
We foster a culture of continued learning that requires hard work and grit. Daniel Zamudio approaches this value with a flair for philosophizing and says, “no one in life should fall into conformity. We must always look forward and always look for something else. You can always be a better person, a better worker, a better company. The fact of being in a company where at least everyone with whom I have talked and collaborated so far shares that same philosophy. It always motivates you.”
David Arabyan started at DISQO when there were around 35 employees, and now we have over 180 employees. He says he recognized that the company was “destined to grow” and that there’s a “great balance” between “seeing the long-term vision and focusing on it one step at a time.”
With growth, we’ve also had to admit to ourselves when some things were getting too unmanageable at their current state, like our Purple Electric Penguins team. Software Engineer Simon Grigorian explains, “we have created two teams from the original Purple Electric Penguins (PEP): Purple Electric Penguins (which holds the same name, but fewer members) and Pink Puffy Penguins (PPP). As part of the PPP team, we have more time and resources now to create projects such as our current work on a microservice-based on our shared codebase, which allows PEP the space to innovate on other features while moving more quickly.”
We’ve previously talked about transparency across the engineering organization in We Built an Internal Documentation System. But we also actively engage in practices of transparency through our interpersonal and team relationships. This value is significant to Jackie Liu, who handles distributing our data internally and directly to clients. She says, “If there is an issue with the data we are providing, everyone involved needs to be aware of it. For our internal teams, we need to be transparent so that any issues can get resolved. For our clients who analyze the data for insights, we need to be transparent about any data caveats so they can arrive at appropriate conclusions and have confidence in our product.”
David Arabyan says, “Our leadership team sets the tone on transparency. Our monthly all-hands meetings, one-on-ones with your manager, and even conversations over a ping pong match (pre-COVID, of course) all lead to greater transparency and alignment from all employees. As an options holder and a person who loves numbers, I get excited to pull up the company dashboard and look at how the company performed on metrics like Net Revenue, Cash Runway, Tech Maturity, and Net ARR per FTE.”
Our DISQO values are integral in our work and show up as Team, Trust, Create Impact, Innovation, Growth Mindset, and Transparency. These values are beyond intangible in that they show up in real situations in our day-to-day work at DISQO.
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