I’ve spent my first two months as Uber’s CEO meeting our teams around the world, dealing with a few firefights, and experiencing firsthand the entrepreneurial culture that Uber is known for. It’s that forward-leaning, fearless approach that has underpinned much of Uber’s success and has attracted many employees, including me, to the company.
But it’s also clear that the culture and approach that got Uber where it is today is not what will get us to the next level. As we move from an era of growth at all costs to one of responsible growth, our culture needs to evolve. Rather than ditching everything, I’m focused on preserving what works while quickly changing what doesn’t.
This is the approach we’ve taken with our new cultural values, which we announced to employees today. Our values define who we are and how we work, but I had heard from many employees that some of them simply didn’t represent the kind of company we want to be. For instance, “toe-stepping” was meant to encourage employees to share their ideas regardless of their seniority or position in the company, but too often it was used as an excuse for being an asshole.
I feel strongly that culture needs to be written from the bottom up. A culture that’s pushed from the top down doesn’t work, because people don’t believe in it. So instead of penning new values in a closed room, we asked our employees for their ideas. More than 1,200 of them sent in submissions that were voted on more than 22,000 times. We also held more than 20 focus groups with representatives from our Employee Resource Groups and our international offices.
There were some common themes: many people liked how the spirit of the previous values encouraged problem-solving and speed, but they wanted to see more around inclusion, teamwork and collaboration. They also wanted to make clear that we will put integrity at the core of all our decisions, and that we’re unafraid to admit mistakes when they happen.
We’re also calling these cultural norms, rather than values, because we fully expect them to evolve as Uber continues to grow. Uber has always been a company that embraces change, and going forward we’ll approach our culture in the same way. We certainly don’t expect these norms to change overnight, or every year, but we always want to take stock of who we are, who we want to be, and move accordingly.
These norms preserve the best of the founding Uber culture that built one of the world’s most valuable and important companies, while recognizing that we must adapt to become a great company where every person feels respected and challenged, can contribute in his or her own way, and learn and grow as an individual and as a professional. At the same time, these norms will take us forward and will hold each of us accountable as we continue to change Uber for the better.
Uber’s Cultural Norms
We build globally, we live locally. We harness the power and scale of our global operations to deeply connect with the cities, communities, drivers and riders that we serve, every day.
We are customer obsessed. We work tirelessly to earn our customers’ trust and business by solving their problems, maximizing their earnings or lowering their costs. We surprise and delight them. We make short-term sacrifices for a lifetime of loyalty.
We celebrate differences. We stand apart from the average. We ensure people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome. We encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard, and then we come together and build.
We do the right thing. Period.
We act like owners. We seek out problems and we solve them. We help each other and those who matter to us. We have a bias for action and accountability. We finish what we start and we build Uber to last. And when we make mistakes, we’ll own up to them.
We persevere. We believe in the power of grit. We don’t seek the easy path. We look for the toughest challenges and we push. Our collective resilience is our secret weapon.
We value ideas over hierarchy. We believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere, both inside and outside our company. Our job is to seek out those ideas, to shape and improve them through candid debate, and to take them from concept to action.
We make big bold bets. Sometimes we fail, but failure makes us smarter. We get back up, we make the next bet, and we go!