As you can tell from our company name, we like to do things our own way. At freistil IT, "working freestyle" means:
We're self-funded. We haven't ever brought in outside financing. Since our earliest days this has been very important in providing freedom to shape the company and its business practices.
We're opinionated. We make our own decisions about how and with whom we do business. This has been essential for us to gain an enthusiastic customer base and a clear direction.
We work in a Results-Only Work Environment. We all share the responsibility for the success of our company, and success only comes from results that drive the business forward. In a ROWE, time spent in an office chair is not an adequate management metric. It's only the results that count. (More on this below.)
We're a 100% distributed team and Gitlab's Remote only website provides a good summary of the goals and practices we're aiming at.
Our long-term strategy is based on the V2MOM model created by Marc Benioff. In his book "Behind the Cloud", he talks about the planning process he used to grow Salesforce.com to the world's largest SaaS company. It has five elements, "Vision", "Values", "Methods", "Obstacles", and "Metrics", short "V2MOM". The goal of V2MOM is to create alignment from the CEO through to every front-line employee.
Vision – The big picture idea
Values – The main 3-5 driving values
Methods – Specific tactics to achieve our goals
Obstacles – Things that are working against our success
Metrics – Key performance indicators for the right results
A key aspect of V2MOM is that we use this model on every level of the company, beginning from a company-wide V2MOM down to the individual team member's V2MOM.
Here's our company-wide V2MOM. A V2MOM is never set in stone; it needs to undergo regular reviews, so expect this section to change eventually.
Deliver world-class managed IT services to customers who mean the world to us.
Build a team of experts that complement, inspire and advance each other.
Foster a company culture that values fun and creativity.
Freedom: We believe that treating our team members as responsible adults will yield the best results with the least friction and effort. That's why we chose the V2MOM approach over a set of rules in the first place: having basic values to guide our decisions gives every team and individual the freedom to find their individual way towards the company's vision. (For a company named "freistil IT", this should have been an obvious value, but it actually took a discussion at freistil Days in March 2015 to make it explicit.)
Transparency: Transparency means that everyone (inside and outside the company) knows WHAT we do, HOW we do it and — most importantly — WHY we do it. Since transparency creates expectations in others, it fosters accountability.
Quality: It is our vision of creating a world-class hosting business and we can only reach this goal by delivering top quality.
Accountability: Everyone of us contributes to the company's success and we trust that everyone will strive to deliver high-quality results. This trust within a team, especially within a distributed team, can only grow in symbiosis with accountability. That's why we run the company as a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). Every team member is a business person who can make their own decisions. In order to achieve the best result, we expect every one to ask for as much advice as possible before making a decision.
Community: We're building on the foundation of Open Source Software and we're an active part of that community. First of all, though, the company is our most important community — we're in this together and everyone is an integral part of it.
Developing our team
Solving the DevOps problems of our customers
Tracking our results on a regular basis
Bootstrap financing limits our growth speed.
Unclear priorities waste precious time.
Objectives and Key Results
The central concept in our approach to work is called "Results-Only Work Environment", short ROWE.
In many other companies, employees are expected get to the office in the morning and stay there for about 8 hours. Apparently, this even is important enough for them to put systems in place that tally work time by the minute, and have managers make sure everyone follows the rules. We don't care if you put in the necessary hours during daytime or at night, if you prefer to work in bigger chunks of time or in many smaller ones. From our point of view, time spent in the office is not a metric for productivity, and counting butts in chairs is not a management task. Work is about achieving results and helping employees in this is the best thing a manager can do. That's why many talks in your team will be about Objectives and Key Results (OKR).