This is a document that tries to codify the culture we’re building at Atlantis Tech. The word tries is used consciously here. A company’s culture is a mosaic that evolves with each new product, and each new team member. In that sense, think of this as a guide, a loose collection of observations and conscious decisions. A small snapshot of a larger mosaic that seeks to guide us when our path is unclear, and evolves with us as we grow.
Why Does This Company Do What It Does?
We believe it is important to understand why we exist as an organisation, and clearly define the problems we seek to solve. In doing this, we are able to find the right people and build the right tools to achieve our goal.
We believe banking has yet to undergo a true technological disruption. The banks of today build products and sell them to people without considering individual needs. This is done through poorly designed digital offerings that inspire little customer delight.
Our mission is to build the Bank of the Future - an entity that builds solutions that help people in every stage of their financial journey, and adapts intelligently to their needs using the best technology available to us.
We’re building a bank for humans.
Our Founding Pillars
Our vision for the Bank of the Future is not one we can build in a day. This is a long haul, and to achieve it, we need to build a business that is efficient, profitable, and resilient. Something that will outlive us all. To do this, we encourage every member of our team, regardless of function, to align around these key pillars:
- The Customer Comes First
Building products that add genuine value and delight to the lives of our customers is our North Star. If ever faced with doubt in decision making or disagreement among teams, settle the debate in the customer’s best interest, not yours.
- Practise Systems Thinking
Fintech is built on top of complex economic and technological systems that don’t work on simple cause and effect. Seek to understand the larger system you are part of, and identify the areas where you can create exponential impact. Whether in a meeting or an email, do not hesitate to ask for the ‘why’ of a decision until its first principles are revealed.
- Speed as a habit
Agile systems and lean teams are not just buzzwords for us. They’re fundamental operational themes. Lean teams and efficient use of resources let us move quicker and ship faster. We attack on speedboats, not aircraft carriers.
- Play the Infinite Game
Our objective is not to win prizes or earn accolades. In our systems mindset, such things are second order effects of our company mission and customer focus. We exist because we must, and we play not to trump our competition, but for the joy of the game.
Our Personal Values
- Knowledge Through Reading
Playing an Infinite Game requires us to constantly improve as players. A growth mindset is a must-have to be part of the Atlantis roster, and we are believers in reading to learn. We actively try to maintain a well-stocked library to help our teammates read broad and deep, and are more than happy to procure books our teammates recommend for our collective improvement.
- Expression Through Writing
Our operations will be spread across nations, taken forward by teammates from multiple cultures and ethnicities. They will work together in offices and collaborate virtually from remote locations. To allow everyone to collaborate without restriction, we document diligently and express ideas in writing. As more teammates embrace our documentation culture, we build a hive mind that spans across geography, culture, religion, and ethnicity.
- Power Through Learning
A hive mind is only as good as the collective knowledge of its nodes. This is why we look for a strong learning and growth mindset in every potential teammate. Every teammate is an investment, and those who do not seek to understand their role in the larger mosaic and keep striving to improve will eventually slow us down. At Atlantis, no question or action intended towards learning is looked upon negatively. A learning mindset merits our highest respect.
- Excellence Through Accountability
We don’t believe in instituting policies for every potential situation we may be faced with as an organisation. Instead, we believe in hiring smart people, clearly communicating our goals to them, and letting them perform with the best interests of our customers (and by extension the company) in mind. We’re all adults capable of taking responsibility, working together, and seeing things through. A high performing team is not built around policies, it’s built around trust and accountability.
3. We’re All Writers Here
Everyone at Atlantis writes. There’s really no getting around this. It’s why we’re dedicating a section of this document to writing despite it already being covered in our Personal Values section. Writing is how we think, it’s how we put across ideas to our teammates that are often difficult to articulate in words, it’s why this culture code is a written document. The act of writing, forces the author to think through all the steps required to share the lesson. It avoids common pitfalls in business, like saying “I just know”, and includes other teams and job functions in the individual’s thinking process. Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard, and that’s why it’s an unfair advantage.
In writing, we build our story and our internal knowledge, and then share it. Similar to how we open-source engineering projects that may be beneficial to the world, we make public the documents that may help others grow as individuals and organisations.
4. Why We Believe In The Power Of Teams
We believe great products are an extension of great teams. As a small startup, we put an emphasis on building a great team very early on. Every team member’s opinion is valued, and every team is engaged in a search for absolute truth. We win and lose as a collective, and failures are not attributed to people. In failure, our only objective is to understand what failed and why it failed -- there is no question of ‘who’ caused it to fail. Our belief is that a team of empathetic high-performers can produce an exponentially greater output than geniuses can produce in isolation.
In success and failure, we focus only on objective analysis. What worked, what did not. Because objective truth is smarter than any individual.
Ego has no place at Atlantis. Our decisions are engineering and data-driven, and our teams operate on trust and empathy. We don’t tolerate brilliant jerks.
5. Trust People To Build Products That Inspire Trust
Ours is a high trust culture. We believe people are inherently good, and trusting people to do the right thing yields disproportionate rewards. As a result of this, we intentionally don’t build processes for every conceivable scenario. At any juncture, we trust our teammates to do the right thing with the resources at their disposal than feel the urge to check with management on the recommended course of action.
This thinking permeates everything we do. Our products are also built to inspire trust -- right down to customer privacy and data protection being codified into our engineering principles.
Trust takes the friction out of decision making. People want to work with us because we inspire trust. People want to invest in our products… because we inspire trust.
6. Our Thoughts On Balance In Life and Career
In building the Bank of the Future, we’ve set ourselves ambitious goals. We work hard, but take time to enjoy the quiet moments, spend time with family, and power down when needed. Our goal is to allow each teammate to have confidence in their ability to live a fulfilled life, and to work in a state of flow - to always work in a state that encourages them to develop their powers.
Purpose driven teams build great products. Great products inspire users.