What ‘company culture’ means to us


We recently held our annual company retreat. It is an important event because we are a fully remote company. The retreat gives us the chance to get together in-person and spend quality time. This year, we held the retreat in Houston, following URTeC and our annual symposium. We visited Space Center Houston, went to an Astros game, and ate BBQ and Tex-Mex. As a Houston native, I picked some of my favorite things to do in town!

We also held a meeting on ‘company culture.’ I asked the team – how do you perceive our company culture? What do we do well, and what could we do better? Here are the highlights.


Growth mentality

Commitment to improvement is one of our key values. This commitment exists on multiple levels – as individuals, as an organization, and as a technology provider. The foundations for this growth mentality are: (1) humility and (2) psychological safety. To quote the Harvard Business Review, “Psychological safety is a shared belief that it’s OK to take risks, express ideas and concerns, to speak up with questions, and to admit mistakes.”

Our growth mentality allows us to avoid the trap that affects many service providers – getting ‘locked into’ a particular technology or approach, and becoming unable to adapt as the field evolves. We do not present ourselves as always having all the answers. We communicate what we believe and why, listen carefully to other points of view, and constantly question our own.

Many times, I’ve heard our clients comment on how unusual it is for a ‘service provider’ to have this attitude. Too often, companies (and technical experts) commit themselves to a ‘we have all the answers’ approach. That can be effective in the short-term, because people can be impressed by self-confidence. But in the long-run, it’s a recipe for being left behind. Technologies and concepts linger for years in our industry, long after limitations have been identified and better solutions have been developed.

When people feel unable to admit a mistake, this arises from a lack of psychological safety – a fear that showing weakness could lead to judgment and loss of standing. We, as engineers, must fight this natural human instinct. It’s OK to be wrong or make a mistake – but not unconditionally. If we make a mistake, we must acknowledge it, correct it, and take steps to avoid it in the future.

We also apply a growth mentality to our product. We constantly seek feedback about how we could improve our software and then incorporate that feedback directly into our development pipeline.

Finally, we apply a growth mentality to ourselves. What am I doing well? What could I do better? It’s OK not to be perfect—as long as I’m always striving to improve.


Responsiveness and collaboration

Responsiveness and collaboration are core attributes of our identity as an organization. Countless times, users have told me that they appreciate our turnaround time. When users make requests – to the extent practical – we do everything possible to address them rapidly. Routinely, users request a new feature or report a bug, and the update has been pushed out to them within days. This is especially true for bugs. If it is a significant blocker for the user, then someone on the team will drop what they are doing and prioritize it above everything else.

Similarly, if a user emails with a question or problem, we respond promptly. When someone emails our ‘support’ address, they’re talking to a real person, and someone who is deeply knowledgeable and committed to helping them succeed.

Finally, our software development pipeline is guided by user requests. We do long-term planning on development, but we are agile, and we are willing to shift priorities as we see changes in the market and receive feedback.


Being mutually supportive

During our company’s retreat discussion, many people talked about how they feel supported by their colleagues. People take the time to help each other out.

One person noted that often in organizations, different groups within the organization develop their own priorities, and groups can come into conflict. They don’t see that happening in ResFrac. Instead, everybody is pushing towards the same goal – deliver value for our clients. It’s a genuine team culture, where we care about each other, and care about supporting the groups’ overarching goals.


Is there anything we could be doing better?

We had some discussion about meetings and remote communication style. Meetings consume time, and people have a lot to do! Therefore, we need to be judicious about inviting only ‘needed’ people to meetings, and sometimes breaking off into a smaller-group follow-up meeting.

On communication style, being a remote company is a special challenge. We use a lot of email, but some people expressed interest in adopting a secondary communication channel for quick ‘chat’ style communication. There was a diversity of ideas about which app to use. Some team members like to use certain apps because they have them open anyway to communicate with clients whose organizations have adopted those apps companywide. A common thread was that we need a uniform policy on ‘what to use,’ because otherwise there can be too many channels to keep track of (Slack, text, chat, Teams, etc.). To follow-up, we’re doing a survey on peoples’ preferences and planning to establish more uniform guidelines.

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