Three short years ago, Chronosphere went from a glimmer in a VC’s eye to an actual company with a product. At the time, Chronosphere’s co-founders, Martin Mao (CEO) and Rob Skillington (CTO), knew their startup would be solving critical, real-world observability problems that accompanied the rise of cloud-native architecture…little did they (or anyone else) know how mega-fast cloud native adoption would accelerate (30% in four years by Gartner’s estimate).
Martin, Rob, and their small 20ish-person startup team responded quickly to market changes—think global pandemic and an instantly remote world that demanded new and better cloud apps—and we saw the Chronosphere rocketship take flight: $200M Series C funding (total $255M), unicorn status, and a remote-first workforce of 200 by the time we celebrated our third birthday! Moreover, we have team members distributed across North America and the EU, and we are still adding a batch of new team members every week.
Earlier this year, we realized it was time to take a deep breath and reflect on who we are as an organization. Why did we feel like this time had arrived? Well, in a hypergrowth state—especially over the past year where talent competition was pretty stiff—we needed to clearly articulate what sets us apart culturally. This meant establishing a set of values that would anchor our programs and processes in an authentic way.
Thus we embarked on a journey to redefine our core company values. In the Chronosphere way, this was not a top-down exercise like in so many organizations—we welcomed the entire company, with varying degrees of involvement, to be part of the values-smithing process. This 100% volunteer team was tasked with answering three straightforward yet thought-provoking questions:
- What values/attributes accurately describe who we are as an org?
- Are these same values ones that we want to hold on to as we scale?
- Do our values inform how we show up in our rapidly changing society?
This was not a quick process. The team collaborated weekly, giving thoughtful feedback regarding the values they felt permeated our virtual walls. We reflected on what set our company apart, talked through significant moments from the past three years, and digested thematically what’s coming through.
After months of hard work, we landed on five clear core values that define who we are and what drives our culture. With new team members joining in droves, and minimal informal “water cooler” talk— given our distributed workforce—we were curious and hopeful that Chronosphere’s new values would really resonate with every seasoned, new, and future team member.
During our recent company off-site and third birthday celebration in Puerto Rico—our first company-wide, in-person event!—Martin and Rob shared these newly articulated values to a sea of smiling faces—most of them new!
The reaction in the room was thrilling. Our most tenured folks shared that these values felt “right”…that they encapsulate what sets us apart from other organizations. New team members shared surprise that these values were not already set in stone because each one had come through during the candidate experience.
So, the big public reveal…here are Chronosphere’s core values:
The best part? Because the values-defining process was highly collaborative—and uniquely included input from people at all levels, tenures, and functional areas—it showcased these values in action.
These values work in concert with one another, both reinforcing and deepening each other:
- Coming in without ego helps us put the work and the best decisions for our org first.
- Coming in this way helps foster increased care and camaraderie.
- Having that authentic care provides a strong foundation for trust building.
- And, as you continue to build trust, you deepen the level of care.
- The trust makes it easier for us to have a strong culture of transparency and accountability—and that is not just regarding company news, but also on a 1:1 basis when it comes to multi-directional feedback.
- Part of the responsibility, is the responsibility we have to each other—to support each other in our professional growth so we can best support our customers.
- When all these things come together— nothing is impossible.
Our work is not done. As next steps, we are embarking on a cross-functional exercise to establish clarity and alignment on how we operationalize these values into our culture. We want to ensure that people understand what behaviors are expected, encouraged, and rewarded within the culture.
This work isn’t easy, nor should it be, but we do not shy away from things that are hard—we believe that if we continue this work with our values anchoring how we show up, that we will successfully build a culture where a diverse group of humans from around the world can do their best work, in a sustainable fashion as we achieve our mission, because nothing is impossible. (see what I did there?)