September 30, 2021

The Importance of Organizational Mission and Culture

Written by philip


Each year for the past decade, Puppet Software has published The Puppet State of DevOps Report, based on survey results from a broad range of IT practitioners, along with leaders with knowledge of IT Operations in their organizations.

Puppet's 2021 report is now available, so let’s start by examining a few highlights from this year's report.

Report Highlights

  • There is more to DevOps than tooling and automation. Having a high level of automation is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

  • Effective usage of public cloud is increasingly important. The most advanced organizations are getting the full potential out of using the public cloud.

  • Teams have clear identities and ways of working. It’s most common for there to be some combination of stream-aligned and platform teams, where teams clearly understand where they fit in the organizational ecosystem, and what they expect from each other.

  • Organizational mission and culture matters – a LOT. It is vital that people across the organization be aligned with and bought into the organizational mission, recognize what’s important to their customers, and treat each other with a high degree of empathy. In the highest performing organizations, organizational structure and values enable people to do their best work.

For the remainder of this blog post, we’re going to focus on that last bullet point about organizational mission and culture, for two reasons: 1) Because mission and culture tend to not get as much attention as some of the more technical topics do in the DevOps universe and; 2) Because both of these are particular strengths and areas of emphasis at TextNow.

Organizational Mission and Culture at TextNow

TextNovians observe that two of the most appealing aspects of TextNow, which separate it from other organizations, are its unique organizational mission and culture. Let’s take a brief look at each of these areas.

TextNow Organizational Mission

As Dan Pink observes in his book Drive, and his related TED Talk, there are three areas that have been shown to consistently motivate employees, in any organizational context:

  • Autonomy. A sense of empowerment that comes from being trusted to do the job.

  • Mastery. A feeling of contentment from having the time and space to get good at something.

  • Purpose. A perception that work is being done in pursuit of a higher purpose that can really make a difference.

We’ll come back to autonomy and mastery in a moment, when we take a look at organizational culture. As far as purpose is concerned—what Pink calls the “purpose motive”—there are not that many private-sector companies which have an organizational mission that seeks to make the world a better place. TextNow is one that does.

Based on the simple and powerful idea that communication belongs to everyone:

We are on a mission to help people connect to technology for free or as close to free as possible.

That is a mission that motivates us every single day.

TextNow Organizational Culture

A lot of organizations go through the motions of saying they care about their employees. Actions speak louder than words, though. At TextNow, the evidence of how central our culture is to what we do and how we work is omnipresent:

  • When considering new people for employment

  • When onboarding new employees

  • When working with our customers

  • When interacting with each other

We have put a lot of thought into what’s in our Culture Manual, and it shows. Let’s take a quick look at each of our six values, viewed through the lens of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

  • No Brilliant Jerks. We value being able to speak openly - AND we recognize that how we say things matters. It’s great to be good at something, while at the same time we recognize that each interaction is a potential opportunity for learning and engagement.

  • Take Action and Ownership. We love to proactively take action, to find solutions to problems, in the service of our organizational mission and our customers. We have found that sense of autonomy is even more powerful when we work together.

  • Be Bold and Take Risks. Another aspect of autonomy is knowing that we’re in an environment where it is safe to fail. That doesn’t mean we take risks just for the sake of doing so. Instead, we recognize that smart risk-taking is an enabler of innovation.

  • Create Cool Stuff Together. That sense of mastery, of being good at stuff, is an important aspect of how we work. We recognize how awesome it is to collaborate, especially when we can try something relatively unfamiliar, and give each other space to experiment, all in the pursuit of a really compelling mission.

  • Be Respectfully Candid. We also recognize that we could fall short in delivering against our mission if we fail to communicate openly, and with respect..

  • Be Resourceful and Scrappy. At TextNow, we leverage DevOps, Lean, and Agile practices to help us maximize value for our customers.

We’ve taken a brief look at how organizational mission and values play a central role in informing what we choose to focus on, and how we interact, at TextNow. The centrality of both mission and culture to our day-to-day operations not only sets us apart as an organization, it also makes TextNow a satisfying and fulfilling place to work. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you’d like to hear more about what it is that we do, and what it’s like to work here.