Our Company Culture, or How We Dare Differently

Cat Catherine Ebneter

Darewithlove Cultivating a company culture no matter how sui generis or mainstream requires a lot of determination. At Panter unity, transparency and flexibility are core tenets of our culture. These values are reflected in the way we work: lean, entrepreneurial, collaborative. Putting these values into practice requires a lot of imagination and dedication, but we have found ways to elevate them beyond buzzwords.

Unity

At Panter we have a flat hierarchy , arguably even a non-hierarchy. Although team members play different roles within our company their ideas, opinions and contributions are equally valued. This means that our decision making process is fairly unique, in that all decisions are made together. For a decision to move forward, it must be unanimously agreed upon. If a unanimous decision was not reached, the process is paused until it can be revisited and reviewed. The process owner is then responsible to find a solution that is adjusted according to the objections that were raised.

Decisions with a large impact like new hires, potential projects, and how to progress on current projects are openly discussed in our weekly, company-wide meeting. The meeting agenda is an imperative element of this event as all decisions made and concerns raised are recorded. This provides absent team members with an opportunity to offer their input on what transpired. Strategic issues that affect the future of the company, such as our compensation model, are discussed in a group event that happens 4-6 times a year. This event is important for all employees to attend because it assures that everyone is involved and aligned in how our company moves forward strategically.

Transparency

We believe that transparency cultivates trust and is necessary to create a fair, collaborative work environment. We are continuously seeking ways to help ensure our communication and processes are as transparent as possible, internally and externally. All of our processes, decisions and finances are transparent and openly discussed in regular meetings as mentioned above. The minutes of all meetings, including the Board of Directors’ meetings, are also saved on shared drives for all employees to access. Our salaries are entirely transparent within the organisation, not to mention that everyone is compensated based on the same pay scale. Every month the salary statement of each employee is added to a shared drive that can be accessed by every team member. The drive also includes a document listing how many hours everyone has worked.

External transparency is how the idea of our Dashboard came to life. The Panter Dashboard is updated daily and offers those outside of Panter an inside perspective on details such as our average monthly salary and factor of billable work. We recently devoted an entire blogpost to it.

Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most attractive aspects of working at Panter. Flexibility is really about freedom of choice. At Panter these choices include holidays, working hours, projects, and preferred equipment. Being flexible gives each employee an opportunity to help ensure they have a work-life balance that best suits their lifestyle. Most Panters choose to work around 80% and often spend the other 20% working on their own projects, interests or family life. If our life situation changes, it is also possible to adapt our workload accordingly at anytime. We also have 6 weeks of holiday each year and an additional team building week abroad spent working on dream projects. The option of unpaid leave or a sabbatical is also common and welcomed. Being able to choose which projects we prefer to work on means that we can focus on our particular areas of interest and are never stuck on a project we dislike.

Lean

We work according to lean & agile principles. Projects are planned the lean way, meaning that we start small and test with customers early in the development cycle. To facilitate this process we use iterative methods like Scrum. Scrum is a development framework that uses cycles called sprints, which at Panter are often just two weeks long. Using sprints versus the non-iterative waterfall method allows us to develop efficiently, quickly adapt to changes according to customer feedback and easily pivot project goals. In order to make the agile approach work, we heavily value software quality and automated testing and build self-organized teams with developers working closely together within sprints to maximize productivity. Short development cycles are critical when working within a market that evolves as fast as tech, and necessary to reduce risk for innovation-driven projects.

Entrepreneurial

Panters like to be on the cutting edge. We keep up with innovative technologies and processes and apply them in real projects. Practically, this means we prefer projects that give us an opportunity to explore new technologies and practice innovative processes. Individually and collectively, we are always learning. Our yearly offsite Klassenlager is our innovation lab where we bring to life our entrepreneurial ideas. During one week we work on individual and collective dream projects.

Collaborative

Making the world a better place for everyone takes innovation and requires collaboration. We support other entrepreneurs because we believe innovation happens in community not in isolation. As a co-founder of Impact Hub Colab, we help build up the startup ecosystem around Panter. We also actively engage in various offerings of IHZ for startups and corporations. We are as well partners of Kickstart Accelerator an initiative of Digital Switzerland and Impact Hub Zürich “that provides corporates high speed access to startups.” To help other companies step up their innovation game, we developed and lead the Factories, which help businesses speed up the creation and transformation of their products and services. We also host a monthly meetup called Pantalks which connects people who are interested in exchanging knowledge and participating in engaging discussions.

Living our values is certainly challenging at times, but entirely possible to achieve when we work together. We’d love to know how you tackle similar challenges in your organization and share experiences. If you’d like to connect please contact us.

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