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Practice Launch Culture Deck
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Sonder Culture Deck

  1. 1. Sonder Culture A better way to work
  2. 2. Sonder’s culture is designed to foster rapid continuous improvement. The only durable competitive advantage is the speed of innovation.
  3. 3. ● Determines who we hire, promote and let go. ● Has a steep learning curve, but will change the way you work and amplify your growth. ● Guides how we set goals, make decisions, communicate and work together. ● Is something we take very seriously – to succeed at Sonder you must learn and thrive within our culture. ● Is not something we aim to preserve, but rather to improve over time. Our culture
  4. 4. There are two aspects to our culture: We attribute most of our success to their robust application and refinement. Our Leadership Principles Our Customs
  5. 5. Our Leadership Principles
  6. 6. They encompass everything we do. We start with the needs of our guests and extend hospitality to all – inside and outside of our organization. We strive for better by setting bold, ambitious objectives for the organization and for own growth. We’re creative in coming up with inventive ways of achieving our objectives. We think rigorously about which of our ideas is the best and make informed, data-driven decisions. We then create a roadmap so as to enact our strategy by prioritizing relentlessly and saying no to everything else. We get it done by tracking our progress and overcoming roadblocks. Things get tough along the way, yet we embrace adversity and get through it with the support of our colleagues. We see things that don’t look right and we exercise our obligation to speak up by communicating directly with compassion. We’re grateful and optimistic about the amazing work our colleagues have done and will do, and we show them heartfelt appreciation. Our Leadership Principles
  7. 7. Our Leadership Principles Be an advocate for the guest. Push back if you see us take a step back. Send detailed feedback about the experience whenever you encounter it. Take ownership for the improvement of the experience. Small things matter. Be kind and hospitable to everyone. Listen and empathize with them. Send shoutouts, surprises, warm welcomes and wishes to your teammates and partners.
  8. 8. Only hire the very best talent. Start with the assumption that better is possible given existing constraints. Expect that your good work receives positive but also a lot of constructive feedback. Push back with grace when we set unambitious goals. Be passionate about getting the details right. Be aware of your opportunity areas and proactively work toward improving them. Our Leadership Principles
  9. 9. When solving a problem, ask yourself whether there’s anything else you haven’t contemplated that would solve the problem more effectively. Organize and participate in ideation sessions. Make creativity a part of your 1:1s with “new actions” against OKRs. Regularly set aside time to think and write about novel solutions to your biggest problems. Our Leadership Principles
  10. 10. Actively seek the truth and others’ perspectives. Study cognitive biases and strive to avoid them. Gauge your uncertainty by thinking probabilistically. Update your beliefs when presented with strong arguments or new information. Get written feedback from your manager and colleagues before making a big decision. Push for a specific solution only when you have a sufficient understanding of the problem. Our Leadership Principles
  11. 11. Get fewer things done better and faster. Prioritization isn’t about what you do, it’s about what you decide not to do. Document your priorities in a quarterly roadmap, with clear ownership and deliverables. Ensure roadmaps prioritize the highest impact and lowest cost/effort initiatives. Say no and accept when others can’t prioritize your asks now, so long as they’ve heard you. Our Leadership Principles
  12. 12. Our Leadership Principles Write down and keep track of all commitments in Asana. Deliver on time. In rare circumstances where we need to push out our commitments, notify others before missing the original deadline. Learn and embrace our productivity, execution and teamwork customs. Work hard but stay healthy and balanced. Default to audits and visibility instead of approvals which cause bottlenecks. Speak and write clearly and concisely.
  13. 13. Care for your colleagues and support them in moments of adversity. We’re all in this together. When things get tough, view it as an opportunity to rise to the occasion. Be transparent about the challenges you’re facing, devise a plan, and act. Keep conviction in the potential for things to get better, and cherish the learnings Our Leadership Principles
  14. 14. Create a safe environment for others to voice concerns, and show genuine appreciation when they do. Clearly and empathetically express where you stand on issues. Share your opinions, even if unpopular. Don’t harbor resentment, or keep concerns for yourself until it’s too late. Our Leadership Principles
  15. 15. Our Leadership Principles Learn how to properly give and receive feedback. Leverage the communications techniques we teach. Assume positive intent (API) Empathize with others and listen in a way they feel heard. Never complain about others privately – avoid gossip.
  16. 16. Give positive feedback to your manager or report at every 1:1. Give frequent and unexpected appreciation to your colleagues. Acknowledge how far we’ve come in a short period of time. Start with the belief that we can and will accomplish our vision, and become a champion for it. Our Leadership Principles
  17. 17. Our Customs
  18. 18. Our customs define how we work together to generate blazing fast innovation and superlative results
  19. 19. We don’t pretend it’s the only way to work. But it’s one that works for us and we need everyone to row in the same direction. Our customs
  20. 20. Our customs Productivity Execution Team work Communications Writing > talking Feedback 1:1s Business Reviews Accountability OKRs Roadmaps Issue logs Hiring Managers Asana Inbox zero Efficiency tools Time management
  21. 21. Productivity Get more done in less time
  22. 22. Asana Our customs - Productivity Use Asana for 1:1s, task management, meeting follow ups and day to day collaboration. Learn how to use the tool to its full potential, including rules and custom fields. Avoid tagging more people than needed in a thread, and don’t hesitate to take yourself out of a low-utility thread. Keep your Asana tidy with no past-due tasks and a clean inbox.
  23. 23. Strive to achieve inbox zero every day across all comms platforms. Leverage shortcuts to process inboxes faster. Touch it once: if you open/read a thread, respond immediately or create a task to follow up. Unsubscribe or mark as spam undesirable email to reduce low-value inflow. Block off time to clean out inboxes if you fall behind. Inbox zero Our customs - Productivity
  24. 24. Time management Our customs - Productivity Batching increases productivity – block off time for focused work. Each meeting has a pre-read sent out 24 hours before or a shared agenda (otherwise cancel the meeting). Everyone shows up ready. Avoid walking people through pre-read contents in a meeting. Focus on questions and decisions. Keep meetings as small as possible.
  25. 25. Learn to type faster. A fun one is Shortcuts You can dramatically increase productivity by using shortcuts in email, Asana, Slack and other tools. A variety of shortcuts exist to select text, change tabs, close windows, etc. They make accomplishing tasks without using your trackpad/ mouse fast and easy. Learn Asana shortcuts for archiving, task creation, date setting, marking complete. Our customs - Productivity
  26. 26. Execution We take ownership, make robust plans, measure output, and hire phenomenal leaders who get things done
  27. 27. Consistently beating ambitious objectives is the surest way to succeed at Sonder. Every quarter, score performance and align on next quarter’s objectives and initiatives. 7 Our customs - Execution
  28. 28. Key Results are the 3-5 output metrics that prove whether the objective was reached. We set bold OKRs, in spirit with Strive for Better. Strong outcomes start at 75%+ achievement versus baseline. Objectives are desired outcomes in one short sentence. Our customs - Execution OKRs Every team should use OKRs to gauge what impact they’re having on the company. We use Objectives and Key Results to measure impact. Key Results shouldn’t be a list of to-dos. Rather, they should measure whether our initiatives had the intended impact on the business.
  29. 29. Our customs - Execution Initiatives are the bets we’re making to beat our OKRs. We size impact and effort to pick the initiatives with the highest return; the rest goes to the backlog. Fully completing 75%+ of initiatives in a quarter shows strong execution. Initiatives that move the needle on OKRs demonstrate strong strategy. Roadmaps How we track and prioritize initiatives
  30. 30. Our customs - Execution I’m unaware I blame and complain I make excuses I wait and hope (nothing happens above this line) I see it I own it I seek solutions I make it happen The ladders of accountability
  31. 31. Our customs - Execution If you want to do a deep dive into a multi-faceted challenge, like how to boost a property’s customer satisfactions core, create an issue log. Issue logs are also where you can park issues that can’t be actioned on immediately. Making issue logs transparent makes people feel heard, and better aligned against the solutions and their resolution timeline. For cross-functional issues, create “task forces” to align on solutions and hold everyone accountable to delivering on them. Issues Logs When problems are complex or can’t be solved now, keep track of issues through an issue log.
  32. 32. 1. Intro: Hear their life story, ambitions and pitch Sonder. Take notes to accelerate relationship building. 2. Domain expertise: Do they master their craft and have innovative ideas? The best people will teach you things you didn’t know and are excited to try. 3. Hiring Panel: Assign each interviewer a specific mission, with 2-3 principles and risk areas. 4. Due Diligence: Challenge them to a written exercise. Share your latest 360 review, ask for theirs, discuss strengths/weaknesses. 5. Pre Close: Refer to your previous notes to begin the conversation. Ask if they’re ready to join. 6. Close: Offer presented verbally, templated letter follows. Keep in contact from sign to start date. Hiring great managers. Best practices devised to identify outlier talent and convince them to join us. Our customs - Execution
  33. 33. Teamwork We work better together with efficient communications, structured feedback and productive meetings
  34. 34. Our customs - Teamwork Slack will ping your phone and distract you – only Slack others if it’s urgent and a response is absolutely needed within a few hours. Turn off Asana and email notifications from your phone. This will help you manage your inbox. Emails are best for external comms, not internal (use Asana!) The exception to this rule is for distribution lists. Communications Meetings can be a waste of time – it’s usually best to try to solve problems asynchronously before calling a meeting. Use the right communication channels
  35. 35. Writing forces rigor and will clarify your thinking. Write down things you repeat many times (make it into a playbook) so you can share a complex idea at the touch of a button. Reading retention is better than verbal, and 2-5x faster than listening. The focus is on the quality of ideas, not the charisma or passion of the presenter. Writing instead of talking Our customs - Teamwork Leverage the power of the written word
  36. 36. Ask for feedback. At the end of a meeting, in 1:1s, or a soon as you notice something that’s great or an opportunity. Appreciate it. And if you agree with it, accept it. Acknowledge feedback – paraphrase it, intensify it, and ensure you got it right. Act on it. Create action items you can hold yourself accountable to with a due date. Our customs - Teamwork Feedback Give and invite feedback frequently, and do it the right way
  37. 37. Pre-write your 1:1 so that your manager can come prepared to the meeting. 1. Wins: start with wins to create space for meaty issues. 2. Action Items: Any action items created during the 1:1 are tracked in the Asana project and checked for completion in the next 1:1. 3. Problem/Solution: write the biggest problem you face, what you did to create it and your proposed solution 4. Topics: list of subjects 5. OKR status: green/yellow/red for each OKR 6. Feedback: Give bi-directional like/wish that feedback. 1:1s We believe that the most productive 1:1s follow a clear structure. Our customs - Teamwork
  38. 38. The following framework is used during the meeting: 1. OKR & Roadmap Statuses: Initiatives are marked as green/yellow/red. We compare KRs with the latest metrics. Action items are documented. 2. Accountability: Previous action items are reviewed to ensure they were completed. 3. Problem/Solution: A decision maker reviews feedback from P/S statements in the memo and writes down their decision. 4. Feedback: Feedback is collected by participants to make the meeting better in the future. We use our time together to drive action and expect everyone to come prepared. We never “read out” contents of a memo or walk through slide decks. Business reviews Monthly/Quarterly Business Review meetings enable teams across the organization to stay on track and solve problems faster. A memo is sent out 24 hours ahead of time; all attendees need to read/comment in advance. Our customs - Teamwork
  39. 39. When roles require being in person to serve guests, we are there with them. Some of our people can effectively do their work whether they’re in an office or not – we leave the decision of what works best for them to them. As we reopen offices, our aim is to offer drop in offices in our hub markets. We encourage teams to frequently meet in person in Sonder markets for team retreats. Work Choice Our customs - Teamwork What’s our approach to work from home? We leave it up to you, if your role can be done remotely.
  40. 40. How it all fits together
  41. 41. Our culture and our brand are respectively the inward and outward expressions of who we are – both created to support our mission of revolutionizing hospitality. Mission Vision Values Internal Culture Brand External Leadership principles Customs Service principles Experience standards The Sonder Identity
  42. 42. A better way to work