Our values

While our mission sums up why Tandem exists and its goals, our values sum up how we achieve that mission.

Putting employees first

You've probably heard that the customer/client is always right and while that is almost always true it's pretty hard to achieve if you don't actually put employees first. When businesses put employees first then employees put clients and customers first and everyone wins.

We put employees first by investing in and encouraging their professional development, arranging company retreats, providing equipment upgrades, conference stipends and fostering a challenging but rewarding environment where everyone can do meaningful work and have a good time doing it.

Connecting the dots

Good companies thrive when they can align the incentives of company, employees, clients and customers across the board. This means tying seemingly unrelated parts of the business together in new and creative ways. Deeper interconnectedness means the benefits of any one thing can ripple-effect to potentially everything else; maximizing impact for all stakeholders.

As an example, agencies typically maximize revenue by billing more hours. Clients generally prefer to be billed less. This is bad incentive alignment. Instead, an agency's engineering and sales teams should work together to structure engagements so that when engineering succeeds, clients and agencies do to. This means agencies gets a higher effective hourly rate and the clients get more stuff both sooner and cheaper.

This incentive alignment also gives employees more free time to spend on our business improvement process, products or other projects; each of which tie back into doing things better, faster, stronger.

Positive feedback loop unlocked.

Building common purpose

You don't want everyone in the Boat-of-Bizness rowing opposite directions. Nor do you want everyone rowing in the wrong direction. The former goes nowhere. The latter inevitably finds monsters. However, shipmates that have clear duties, a shared destination and work together as a team can go to exceptionally rare places together. Especially if everyone is empowered to suggest a course correction or flag that incoming iceberg!

Said another way: get with the program but also buck tradition, challenge dogma and speak the f up when the program goes astray!!!

Focusing on whats important

Organizations often lose sight of the big picture, do a poor job explaining how small tasks build towards larger things or have unclear and fluid priorities. This can result in a lot of time being spent on things that do little to advance the key objectives of a project, product or the company itself.

Therefore, the more time we can spend on the right things the more we can achieve.

We do this by always striving to do the right amount of the right thing at the right time and for the right reasons. Doing so greatly reduces collective stress, improves relationships and encourages work-life balance.

We also invest way more time on things that are unlikely to change long term instead of flavors of the week. This is to say we focus on building robust systems and resilient institutions that can stand the test of time instead of the brittle or fickle.

Treating people like adults

We think most co-workers, clients and customers want to be treated like adults and not like children. To that end we always strive to find the sweet spot between sensitivity, differing personal experiences and mental toughness. We do this by putting ourselves in other peoples shoes and then leveling with them as best as we can.

This approach might best be encapsulated by the famous Confucious precept:

Say what you think without being a total dink

To facilitate this we've built an environment that encourages honesty, transparency and vigorous debate while remaining anchored by understanding and respect. When this environment is at its best it builds trust and comraderie, deepens relationships, and ideally creates friendship. When it's not it means somebody probably needs to apologize, immediately.

Maximizing flow

People are most productive when they are in the zone; focused intently on a single thing with minimal, ideally zero, distractions. The more people we keep in the zone the more serious damage we can do as a company.

In order to do this we need a team of autonomous and excellent communicators who understand not only the roles we all play but how those roles come together within a standardized process to reach a clear objective. Perhaps more importantly, it requires trust. Trust that, more often than not, we all do our jobs.

We also try to maximize flow by minimizing meetings in favor of structured async communication, by sharing knowledge to build redundancy and by continually removing confusion, variables, moving parts and duplication from the equation.

This reduces cognitive load, decision tree complexity, duplicate work, wheel reinventing and intra co-worker resentment which means a happier, more productive team focused on the right things.