The things at the core of what we do.
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Values our team agrees to
We’re in service to New Zealand
Our mission is to put data into everyone’s hands. We think this will lead to big positive impacts for New Zealand, and the ways we all work together. We believe we’ll become invaluable by helping and being useful to others; by becoming a tool to help people pursue their goals and dreams. We keep these big dreams front-of-mind, and work to make them reality.
We serve everyone in New Zealand. Inclusiveness isn’t the norm in society or technology, and sometimes we make choices that are more work or cost more money to make things more inclusive and equitable. Building a diverse team is an important part of making decisions that create inclusivity, as our different experiences help us to understand and create better solutions. As part of this, we document and share our approaches to show what we’ve learned and how it can be done.
We’re working towards delightful
To get where we’re going, we need to get better every day, both individually and as an organisation. Nothing is ever perfect or finished, but constant small improvements will add up over time. No one else is doing what we’re doing, so we need to be adaptable and courageous to make the map up as we go.
We welcome novelty. We embrace the best new ideas in our products and ways of working. We’re always looking to learn, and we’re infinitely curious about how others use what we do. We reflect on our own actions, and we’re always open to true, constructive feedback. We don’t have all the answers, but we’re committed to working them out together.
We operate with integrity
We’re transparent and open. We make it easy for everyone to know what we’re up to and how we’re going, both inside the organisation and externally. Our data is accurate. Our approach is impartial. We won’t tell you what to think, but we do stand behind what we say.
We want to do things, not just talk about them. We’re responsive, up to date, and a pleasure to deal with. We share openly so people can reuse our work, and we put in the extra effort to make content that could be of use to others.
We’re humans working for other humans. We work to understand each other’s views, and operate with care and kindness. We assume the best of each other, but that doesn’t mean we let things slide or take others for granted. Our processes are here to serve us, not to get in the way.
We’re approachable. We recognise that we each have different expertise, but we all have useful perspectives. This means that sometimes we’re students and sometimes we’re teachers. We know when to let others just get on with it and when to offer our point of view. When we’re communicating, we consider the needs and style of the person we’re communicating with. We want to create an environment where we can all be ourselves.
We’re travelling together
We all have a part to play in the success of Figure.NZ. We’re travelling together, but we take personal responsibility for the role we play. We identify and work to resolve all problems, not just the ones we’re personally responsible for. If we can’t fix something alone, we get get help and fix it as a team. We recognise that we don’t have to have a solution for every problem we spot — it’s okay to say “hey, this isn’t right”, and get help to find the way forward.
Figure.NZ is part of a wider ecosystem of organisations doing great things with data. We rely on some organisations, and others rely on us. We play nicely with others, and we’re always curious, respectful and keen to learn about what others are doing.
Early in Figure.NZ’s journey, we realised that if we wanted to build the best team of people to deliver on our mission, we couldn’t just hire people who could sit in the same office every day. This challenged everything we knew about running teams, but we made a commitment to build a culture that’s remote-first, rather than just remote-friendly. We believe you should have the same experience no matter where you work, and we treat remote working as the default, not the exception. We make the extra effort to design processes that prioritise the remote working experience, rather than thinking of it as an add-on.
Remote-first brings lots of benefits to our team. Here are some we’ve noticed.
- Everyone in the team can operate with deep contextual knowledge. Most communication happens in front of everyone, and seeing what’s going on helps us make better decisions for our overall goals, not just for our own areas of work.
- We have greater respect for different disciplines because we see the thought and logic behind decisions that might otherwise be jarring.
- Seeing conversations happen in other areas of work creates the opportunity for people to jump in with a solution that no one knew to ask for. For example, a developer might see the Data team talking about an issue and be able to jump in with a quick fix.
- Everyone can share their thoughts despite not being the fastest or loudest.
- Knowing what we say will be read by everyone makes us more conscious of what we say and how we say it. We still share our thoughts, but we’re more mindful. We take the time to question our assumptions and assertions and to be clearer in our thinking and expression.
Remote-first is hard, time-consuming, and requires ongoing attention and thought, but we’re committed to making it work. We rely on our team to keep us honest and focussed on improving the experience.
Principles for designing our products
We serve New Zealand — all of it
In line with our kaupapa, we exist to serve New Zealand. That means we care about what we make being useful and usable to all New Zealanders. We prioritise the needs of the marginalised and those who aren’t tech-savvy.
We don’t take the easy technical decisions that leave people behind when it comes to inclusiveness and accessibility. We think about accessibility and inclusiveness as vital, core parts of what we do, rather than as an edge case. We know we have some work to do to fix outstanding issues, and we clear these up wherever we can.
We think about the language we use and about the technical choices we make when we add new functionality to our tools, and we work to fix outstanding accessibility issues. We use accessible colour palettes and, where possible, usable alt tags.
We’re not precious about our own website. We work to get figures into the hands of New Zealanders where they are, because we recognise that it’s using figures that changes things.
We don’t reinvent the wheel
We’re here on a mission, and we need to do the most efficient things to serve that mission. This means we don’t rebuild things that already exist just for the sake of it. This includes open-source tools, but also existing services that are best-in-class at what they do. We don’t try and do search better than Google, or social content sharing better than Facebook. We use their strengths to augment our own.
We don’t do “new” for the sake of new
We consider the cognitive load on people who use our services before arbitrarily making changes to use the new hotness or before introducing new features. Whilst we love new technology, we’re sensible about what makes sense to integrate into our services and what doesnt, especially given many New Zealanders only have access to the Internet on older Android phones.
We use plain language
Wherever possible, we favour plain English in short sentences. We avoid technical jargon where it’s in our control to do so. We acknowledge that some of the subject matter we work with uses complicated language, and we do our best to mitigate that.