The Cable Operating System

The Cable Operating System

The concept behind company values is great, but so often they are hard to implement. How many employees can recite their company values? How do you make sure they are actually used to make decisions? And how do you align or combine the values and the culture you are trying to build?

At Cable we wanted to make sure that we created a way of working that reflected who we try to be, how we want to work, and the things that we believe will make us better at our jobs. We call this our Operating System.

We have 5 principles, and each principle comes with a why, a how, an is not, and some ways we want to help people achieve the principle as we grow. We believe that by giving people more information about the reasons for doing certain things, and importantly what doing those things does not mean, it will help people weave the behaviours into their day to day working life.

Below is our Operating System in detail, and we’d love any feedback or thoughts on this — it’s definitely a work in progress and will change over time. In particular, we’d be keen to hear any ideas for ways we can help people achieve these principles in the future!

Updated, January 2022

Be Kind

Why we are kind

  • Being kind makes people feel included, and by including all types of people we will build better products and have a greater chance of achieving our mission
  • Being kind creates an environment in which people want to stay, enabling us to build the best team over the long term

How we are kind

  • We always assume good intent from others
  • We are generous, helpful and think about other people’s feelings
  • We embrace all cultures, lifestyles and languages, and make people feel included
  • If we disagree with an opinion or approach, but it is not our decision to make, we disagree and commit, never saying “I told you so”

Being kind is not

  • Avoiding having tough conversations
  • Avoiding challenging assumptions, opinions or decisions

Ways we want to help people be kind

  • Help people understand how others like to give and receive feedback
  • Holding team offsites in different countries and in ways that embrace different cultures, lifestyles and languages
  • Holding unconscious bias workshops
  • Highlighting situations where expectations fell short

Make Transparent Decisions

Why we make transparent decisions

  • Seeing how decisions are made builds trust between people, allowing them to feel safe, do their best work and ultimately succeed at Cable
  • Making transparent decisions builds context and helps everyone feel like true owners of the company

How we make transparent decisions

  • We make it clear who the decision makers are, and who needs to be consulted
  • We default to writing so that others can see our decision making process
  • We make it clear what context, principles and assumptions have been used when making decisions

Making transparent decisions is not

  • Including everyone in every decision
  • Breaching trust or policy. Some decisions can not be shared

Ways we want to help people make transparent decisions

  • Holding retros on decisions and product cycles
  • Providing timely feedback in writing to help everyone communicate their decisions in the best way
  • Having a company wide All Hands every week, with a Q&A with our founders. They answer any and all questions!
  • Sharing Board decks and investor emails

Communicate Clearly

Why we communicate clearly

  • Clear communication saves time and avoids confusion
  • Spending the time to communicate clearly means we are spending the time to think clearly, which will help us achieve better outcomes
  • To make sure that everyone is able to understand all of the information and context we give

How we communicate clearly

  • We use simple words and as few acronyms as possible, acknowledging that English isn’t everyone’s first language and people’s communication styles are different
  • We default to communicating through writing
  • When writing, we are as succinct as possible, whilst including all the context that is required to understand and challenge decisions
  • We take the time to make sure our communication is clear, and don’t rush ourselves or others
  • We always communicate honestly

Communicating clearly is not

  • Defaulting to meetings
  • Being so brief that key context is missing and that your understanding could be misinterpreted

Ways we want to help people communicate clearly

  • Encouraging everyone at Cable to write regular blog posts
  • Giving everyone the chance to run an All Hands
  • Providing weekly Objective and Key result updates

Aim to Improve

Why we aim to improve

  • We have a big, bold mission, and to achieve it we must remain curious and be willing to improve, as individuals and as a company
  • Individuals and the team become better if each person respects and nurtures their curiosity
  • We will face many challenges, and if we believe we have all the answers today, we will never overcome them

How we aim to improve

  • We are comfortable with both giving and receiving feedback
  • We are interested in understanding why things have always been done in certain ways, and are not afraid to challenge this and explore better ways to do them
  • We are comfortable with the ambiguity that comes from not having all the answers right now
  • We actively seek out tough problems that stretch us, knowing that with each hard task we get incrementally better
  • We admit our mistakes and know that they are expected. We own them immediately and try our hardest not to make the same ones again

Aiming to improve is not

  • Using curiosity as an excuse to disrespect someone else’s experience, context or time, or to not achieve our own objectives
  • Beating ourselves up or admonishing others for having bad days
  • Avoiding the small, simple jobs that have to be done

Ways we want to help people aim to improve

  • Providing everyone with a personal development plan which is reviewed alongside performance and job descriptions
  • Making learning budgets part of the benefits package
  • Holding Lunch and Learns
  • Coaching everyone on best practice for both giving and receiving feedback

Empower through Responsibility

Why we empower through responsibility

  • It enables us to have a positive impact on those we have responsibility for; our customers, colleagues, and the community
  • We can build stronger relationships that help us make better decisions
  • It empowers our colleagues to achieve our mission

How we empower through responsibility

  • We are passionate about our mission and we recognise the responsibility we have for our customers, colleagues, and the community in order to achieve it
  • We take on responsibility ourselves, as the business owners that we are, and help and encourage others to as well
  • We support each other so that we all get better at recognising and meeting the responsibilities we have
  • We communicate clearly about the responsibility we are taking on, and about when we need input and help from others
  • We have a responsibility to present solutions, not just problems

Empowering through responsibility is not

  • Wielding power without recognising the responsibility that comes with it
  • Taking a piece of work from someone else because you think you can do it better
  • Working in a silo

Ways we want to help people empower themselves and others through responsibility

  • Encouraging and helping others to take responsibility for work
  • Providing learning and development budgets
  • Providing opportunities for coaching

Previous Versions of our Operating System

Turning Values into an Operating System
The concept behind company values is great, but so often they are hard to implement. How many employees can recite their company values? How do you make sure they are actually used to make decisions? And how do you align or combine the values and the culture you are trying
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