Defining our product & engineering team values at Axial

Giff Constable Axial, product management

The product and engineering team at Axial has undergone a lot of change in the last year or so. We survived a major (and fraught) re-architecture effort, we rebuilt the core recommendation/matching engine at the heart of the product, we’ve gone from shipping code every few months to shipping almost everyday, we’ve upped our qualitative research with customers, and we’ve finally shifted to smaller, cross-functional teams.

With the major pieces of work behind us that were constraining how we worked as a team, we can now step back and think about what we want product & engineering to be at Axial.

We put business value first

Our mission isn’t to ship software for software’s sake. Our mission is to solve problems and create opportunities for our customers and our business. We also know, however, that we can’t accomplish that mission if we are over-burdened with technical debt.

Progress over perfect

We see software as a continuous process, and as such, we don’t wait for perfection. While we get ambitious with our ideas, we err on the side of getting things in customers hands early. We ship early and often.

Good ideas come from anywhere

We push each other to improve our craftsmanship, but we also know that a lot of good ideas exist outside of our walls. We believe in a meritocracy of ideas, and try to ensure that the wisest voice is heard, not just the loudest. We believe in the benefits that come from diversity in thought and background.

We are practical

While we explore new ideas and new technologies, we don’t chase shiny objects for their own sake. We don’t blindly adopt ideas about how things “should be done,” but adapt them to our context.

Collaboration over cowboys

We work in small, cross-functional teams. We believe that engineering, product, and design is one team. We review each other’s code and designs, and believe that everyone is a creative partner. We work in a “rough draft culture,” where we share early and often. We don’t believe in cowboy decisions (i.e. loner decisions ignoring input from others) from anyone on the team, whether developer, designer or product manager. That said, we respect each others’ expertise and believe in making efficient decisions.

We believe that engineering, product, and design is one team.

Intense but sustainable

We seek to work in a sustainable way, but we also acknowledge that we have chosen to work for a startup. That means we are willing to go the extra mile. We seek a balanced approach where we are passionate about doing great work, but not at the risk of burning people out. Work should be fun, intense and fulfilling most of the time (even if we accept that it can’t always be 100% of the time).

Down-to-earth culture

We’re nice people (it might sound cliche but it’s true). We hang out together outside of work. We aren’t afraid to debate ideas, but we don’t believe that needs to be done through ego and posturing. There are no “bros”. We respect diversity of thought and background. We can be intense, we have conviction, but we try to act with humility and treat each other with respect and emotional maturity.