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engineering Update Jun 7, 2019 Change from SA license to BY license Feb 14, 2018 Emphasized value subtitles in culture guide Apr 15, 2017

Able Health Culture Guide

Able Health was founded as a bridge between the technology and healthcare worlds. As such, we succeed by drawing from diverse perspectives and experiences into a unique way of working. This document outlines what it means to be an Able Health team member.

This guide is a living document that outlines our current intentions for what we do and how we work. Like our company, it is an evolving entity, open to experimentation and feedback. Please make suggested changes by using a pull request. If you have any questions on how to do that, reach out to any member of the engineering or product teams.

Table of contents

  1. Mission: why we exist
  2. Vision: what we hope to achieve
  3. Values: who we are
  4. Team norms: how we work together

Mission: why we exist

Our mission is our singular purpose for existing. All of our work should contribute to our mission:

Our mission is to drive continuous improvement in healthcare delivery.

Vision: what we hope to achieve

Our vision is the future state we hope to create in pursuit of our mission:

Able Health will be the source of truth for evaluating quality of care.

Values: who we are

Our values are what we believe to be true and how we aim to conduct ourselves, both internally and externally. They are the qualities that define an Able Health team member, to be used as a moral compass and to guide screening for new team members. At Able Health, you...

Lift others up 👫

...because we all do better when we help others succeed

You want to improve the lives of others, whether those people are customers, coworkers, or strangers. You recognize that small interpersonal actions build lifelong relationships. You value those relationships over short-term gains. You respect that everyone has unique motivations and contexts. You want to help others succeed rather than promote yourself. You seek to spread delight.

Follow your curiosity 🙇

...because information and ideas keep us innovative

You hungrily gather new knowledge—sometimes outside your familiar domains. You share information and ideas openly with the team. You honor a diversity of strengths and perspectives. You welcome respectful debate. You make space for everyone to get their ideas on the table. You know you don’t know everything and listen with an open mind. You bring all available information to bear on your decisions. You are a mentor and a mentee for life.

Pursue excellence 🏃

...because lives and livelihoods are on the line

You take pride in high-quality work. You act on problems when you see them. You work in service of outcomes, not appearances. You deliver incrementally to get to the right solution faster. You follow through on your agreements. You speak up when you disagree. You communicate directly. You celebrate successes, own your failures, and seek to do better.

Team norms: how we work together

Embracing diversity 🌎

We are committed to creating and sustaining a culture that embodies diverse walks of life, ideas, genders, ages, races, cultures, sexual orientations, abilities and other unique qualities of our employees. We strive to offer a workplace where every employee feels empowered by the ways in which we are different, as well as the ways in which we are the same.

As curious people, we also embrace diversity of thought, which sometimes means that decision making is less efficient, but ultimately more effective as many perspectives are brought to bear.

Diversity is not just good for the world; it also makes teams more innovative and higher performing. We all have unconscious bias, but we can control it. Consider the following practices as you go about your day (outlined by SYPartners):

  • If you face an important problem where the way forward is unknown, consider what can be gained from less-heard perspectives rather than consulting the usual suspects
  • When someone different from you presents a perspective you've never considered, appreciate it for opening your eyes rather than dismissing it as misguided
  • When seeking feedback, solicit a diverse group for a fuller picture, rather than asking your closest peers
  • When sharing professional advice over lunch, spread knowledge widely to help others learn and grow, rather than offering mentorship only to your friends and favorites
  • When creating content for a blog, ensure the brand speaks to the variety of people we'd like to reach, rather than letting your bias influence the brand
  • When sharing media with the team, challenge yourself to consider perspectives outside your own, rather than sharing consistently from the same sources
  • When interviewing candidates, take time to listen fully before making judgements, rather than deciding quickly which are a good fit
  • When networking outside the company, connect to a wide range of professionals, rather than keeping your network homogenous

Sharing knowledge 📓

As curious people, our collective knowledge is one of our greatest assets. Always consider the most effective way to share knowledge, not just for short-term gains, but also helping the team in the long term.

  • Collaborate or pair in order to share knowledge as it is created. Prefer this when:
    • Knowledge is core to day-to-day operations
    • The team will run better when there is not just one holder of knowledge
  • Use automation to enforce processes. Prefer this when:
    • Processes are easily automatable, e.g. using automated tests in place of a comprehensive style guide
    • It is less important to leave room for exceptions
  • Document plans and decisions. Prefer this when:
    • Team members will want to refer back to plans, processes, specifications, instructions, or meeting notes
    • Tasks are assigned
    • Decisions are made related to user story

Unblocking yourself 💡

Everyone at Able Health is a mentor and a mentee. Do not hesitate to ask for help, even if you think you should know the answer.

Options for unblocking yourself due to lack of information:

  • Search for information in Podio or on the web
  • Ask an immediate team member for information
  • Ask a subject matter expert or someone else not on your immediate team for information

Respect people's time by attempting to find the answer yourself first. When requesting information, consider people’s communication preferences in terms of timing and method of access.

Options for unblocking yourself due to lack of ideas or focus:

  • Schedule a timeboxed session to brainstorm collaboratively or independently
  • Reference aligning artifacts—such as Hills, Project KPIs, Customer and User Personas, Company Values, and Brand Principles (all available on Podio)—to filter ideas and tasks
    • If alignment artifacts have not been generated for your current project, generating or asking for them may help the team focus
  • Ask someone for help prioritizing

Navigating ambiguity ☁️

In much of our work, we will never have all of the facts or have considered all possible scenarios. Thus, we need to work together to find informed and creative ways while pursuing excellent outcomes from our work. Here is some guidance for moving forward, following a style of ideation developed by Alex Osborn:

  1. Sense the need for ideation. This could surface from a fundamental misalignment among disciplines or a lack of confidence in any known approaches for a given project, task, or process. Often this manifests in a deliverable one discipline thought would be simple to complete but then snowballed once made public.
  2. Pause and suggest taking a step back in order to find common ground. Find the right time to work through it.
  3. Align on a goal. What should the project or task should accomplish?
  4. Frame the problem. What is blocking us from achieving our goal?
  5. Gather facts. What do we know about the problem and what do we still need to find out in order to confidently design a solution?
  6. Diverge together. Based on a common understanding of the available information, what solutions might address the problem? Brainstorm and visualize solutions in a time-boxed session, feeding off of each other's ideas.
  7. Converge on a way forward. What path forward will get us to our goal? Use voting, prioritization grids, or other methods to get to alignment. Remember that shorter projects, experiments, and prototypes preserve the option to pivot later on.

Maintaining healthy dialogue 🙋

Because we are curious, we work in service of the truth. To that end, we uphold an obligation to dissent with any statement we disagree with. However, we also take care to consider all viable facts and ideas and preserve an open environment. Assume that the other person has good intentions and is putting forth their best effort.

We can build trust through dialogue, and come to a conclusion that does not take one side or the other, but the best elements of both. Following Mark Gozen’s framework from the Harvard Business Review, we aim for dialogue over debate:

Debate Dialogue
Assuming that there is a right answer, and that you have it Assuming that many people have pieces of the answer
Combative: participants attempt to prove the other side wrong Collaborative: participants work together toward common understanding
About winning About exploring common ground
Listening to find flaws and make counter-arguments Listening to understand, find meaning and agreement
Defending our own assumptions as truth Revealing our assumptions for reevaluation
Seeing two sides of an issue Seeing all sides of an issue
Defending one's own views against those of others Admitting that others' thinking can improve one's own
Searching for flaws and weaknesses in others' positions Searching for strengths and value in others' positions
By creating a winner and a loser, discouraging further discussion Keeping the topic even after the discussion formally ends
Seeking a conclusion or vote that ratifies your position Discovering new options, not seeking closure

Remember that the goal is to find truth, not to win. And that we are all subject to the Dunning-Kruger effect, a failure to accurately assess our own incompetence.

At some point, decisions must be reached. Pick your battles, know when to move on, and establish a method for converging on a path forward.

A good way to prevent differing opinions from turning into conflicts is to get to know the people you work with personally. Do you know what motivates them? Or what experiences have shaped their work style? Or the overall context shaping their decisions and actions? How’s their day going?

Making mistakes 💥

We are not perfect, and we don’t pretend to be. We strive to do the best job we can. When we make mistakes, we acknowledge them with humility, resolve them as quickly as we can, and learn from them so that we grow stronger. Because we lift each other up, we can trust our team members to help us resolve the mistake, learn, and move on.

When you make an mistake that impacts the team, product, or business in a significant way:

  • Take responsibility for it to the extent that it’s productive to do so.
  • Ask: “How can I resolve this most effectively?”
  • Focus your actions and energy on minimizing the impact of the mistake. Try to minimize energy spent on beating yourself up or replaying the event in your head.
  • Trust and expect your team members to help you through hard times.
  • After a crisis is resolved, take some time to reflect alone or with the impacted team members on how to avoid similar issues in the future.
  • Share learnings with the team if appropriate.

When a colleague makes a mistake:

  • Avoid making accusations or placing blame.
  • Ask: “How can I help resolve this most effectively?”
  • Support affected team members regardless of who’s at fault.
  • Check in with others on how they are feeling, and see if there is anything you can do to help them.

Exchanging feedback effectively 💬

In order to grow as curious people, we must openly given and receive feedback. We strive toward a compassionate culture where everyone solicits feedback. Feedback is more effective when emphasizing shared goals and good intent by the person giving feedback. Toward that end, consider the non-violent communication approach outlined by Innerspace as a guide.

At Able Health, it is your responsibility to schedule time to give and receive feedback. If you have something to say, don’t wait–schedule a feedback session with your colleague.

When giving feedback:

  1. Check in with the person: "Is now a good time?"
  2. Emphasize mutual goals and positive intent: "My intention is…"
  3. Focus on specific, observable behavior: "When do you X…"
  4. Describe the impact of that behavior on you: "...I feel Y."
  5. Ask about the other person's motives and intentions: "What was going on for you?"
  6. Thank the person.

When receiving feedback:

  • Look for "grains of truth" in order to understand, not win.
  • Help the other person feel heard and ask clarifying questions.
  • Acknowledge your own feelings and manage your defensiveness.
  • Thank the person.

End with agreements:

  • Make specific requests: "What are we going to try moving forward?"
  • Discuss the error case: "What can we do if someone doesn't uphold their end?"

One of the quickest ways to derail honest communication is by presuming to know the intentions of the other person. Remember to "stay on your side of the net"—focus on specific, observable behavior and ask the other person about their motives and intentions rather than assuming what motivation is behind their actions.

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