I remember it clearly. Me, Ian – our co-founder and a handful of brave individuals who would become the first H1 employees, sitting around a table writing down the values that would become the backbone of H1. There was a part of me that believed the values that defined us in the early days would define us always. But fast forward 4 years and what has become clear is that the same way our business has grown and evolved, so must our values. What we wrote down as a team of 5 working on an early stage idea is no longer a 100% fit for the organization we’ve become: a company that employs over 600 people supporting customers around the world in their efforts to create a healthier future for patients everywhere.
So today, I am excited to announce the launch of the new H1 values. During this process, we weren’t solely focused on what everyone loves about H1; instead, we used this process to spark a broader conversation and constructively tackle the things we can do better. After 4 months of conversations with leadership, 75+ employee interviews, and 10+ drafts, the output is a refreshed set of values that better represents who we are today and who we aspire to become. Here are some of the core reasons this change was necessary:
Back in 2017
When you’re an early stage startup everything is really about one thing – liftoff (and all the craziness that comes along with that). Think about the last time you witnessed a rocket launch – the massive explosion, fire, noise, rumbling! Nothing comes closer to describing the early days of an early stage startup. Everyday is a fight to get that first customer, find the perfect product/market fit, not run out of money. Time is of the essence – you don’t want to run out of money before your dream takes off. We created values that fit that early dynamic.
The first, Beautiful Polished Rocks (or BPR as we call it), emphasized the need for sharing quick, immediate feedback with your peers to get the work done quickly. User first, helped keep our team and their processes centered around our north star . Seek greatness, was our rally cry. We were outnumbered and under-resourced compared to our competitors so we needed everyone on the team to push themselves and be able to contribute the same level of output as 10 people would at a larger company. The values worked – and H1 had a quick and explosive liftoff right from the start.
During the next few years we were still bootstrapping and fighting the large incumbents. We desperately needed to keep those early values intact because they helped keep us scrappy and hungry for the win when all odds were against us. Our values continued to fuel our work and provide the uniting tissue to keep the team running towards our mission even when the hill was steep.
There is a saying that states “nothing is consistent but change.” And for a growing business change is inevitable. Over the last 2 years, H1 became the incumbent in some areas, and new start-ups were now chasing us. The massive energy and explosion that launched us in 2017 somehow began to backfire. Coupled with a global pandemic and the emotional stress that was placed on employees around the world, it became clear that the values that once drove us were now leading to burn out, disorganization, and lack of accountability. We care for our employees, our customers, and our mission too much to allow those trends to take hold of us.
Our mission is unchanged. Our passion is unchanged. Our focus is unchanged. But the experiences of the past several years have changed us, as people and as teams. We know this next chapter of H1 will require new values as we go from liftoff to scale. I thought it only appropriate that our values honor that evolution.
These are the new H1 values that will underpin our processes, shape our culture, and help us pursue our collective mission in the right way:
Start with the User
When our users succeed, we succeed. User success leads to better medical research, better patient care, and healthier people everywhere in the world. We start by deeply understanding our users and apply our knowledge to create solutions that exceed user expectations. For every decision, we ask, “How does this impact our users?”
At H1, we believe that employee health and morale are directly correlated to the success of our business. We aim to find or shape roles for people that will help them thrive in their careers and lives. We expect that H1ers put as much rigor into improving our organization as we do our business. If there is something at H1 that needs to change, we don’t accept the notion that “this is how we’ve always done it.”
We ask “why?” We don’t do anything just because “someone said so” or “it felt right”; we know why before taking action or investing time. We give context, set clear goals, use independent judgment, and are intentional about trade-offs. We readily share information that will empower our team to make better decisions. The question is rarely if we should share, but how we share. We make decisions that are in the best interest of H1 because we know the details of our business, explore anecdotes, and interrogate conventions.
Be Quick, but Don’t Rush
Our mission is pressing, and our pace reflects that. However, we still sweat the correctness of our decisions, because our customers depend on us. We slow down appropriately to get right critical decisions that have long-term implications. We value outcomes over activity. We are clear about trade-offs. We focus on a few key priorities and deliver them with quality and on time. We are always looking for ways to work more efficiently so we can focus on producing the best results.
Beautiful Polished Rocks
We believe feedback and friction are necessary to produce well-polished individuals and results, like rocks polished in a tumbler. So we embrace friction. We speak up candidly and respectfully to vet ideas and share concerns. We preview unpolished work so we can iterate quickly with new information. We are proactive about asking for and giving feedback, even when uncomfortable, and we always assume the best intent. Feedback is everyone’s job and the hallmark of a trusting team.
This is our company, and we operate together with a single vision: to build a healthier future. We are intentional about creating a high-accountability, no-blame culture. Each of us is responsible for making decisions as owners: prioritizing the whole over any part, embracing doing good along with doing well, and realizing that we win more when we move forward together.
When it is all said and done, I could not be more excited to roll out new values and re-emphasize the ones that still ring true. At H1, our values are still the backbone and what drives us to innovate in the spirit of advancing technology, research and medicine to create a healthier future as quickly as we can. Want to learn more about our value system? Hop over to our new careers page.