When Kate and I first put our heads together and decided to try to make a difference in healthcare (not exactly the easiest problem we could have picked!), we realised immediately that if we were going to build a team, company, and product that we’re proud of — we’d have to make sure we shared enough core values together, to craft a culture that aligned with the both of us. We did this even before we started figuring out exactly how the product was going to work.
For us, it is not enough to start a company that is mission-driven and trying to make a difference for everyone, everywhere— we also want to change the way that business is done. Both Kate and I have been in the startup and tech ecosystems for over 10 years — for many of those years in different countries (Kate in South Africa, and me in Australia) — and yet we have realised we’ve shared a lot of similar experiences.
We have both been in many teams where:
- we were the only women,
- we weren’t spoken to or treated with respect,
- the hours were really long and the expectations were unsustainably high,
- there were so many of 'one-type-of-person' that, that same type of person kept being hired,
- people were not trusted or empowered to do their best work, and
- making money became more important than doing good, or being kind to others.
We do not want to repeat these patterns. Even if Human Health becomes ubiquitously used and useful, we would not consider ourselves successful if we hurt our team in the process — and so our values to us are ways we can hold ourselves and our team to account.
Our values reflect the kind of company we want to build, and the kinds of people we, every day, aspire to be. If you join or interact with people from Human Health, you are allowed to hold us accountable to these values. They are a shared contract around how we behave together as a team, and treat each other and the world.
It took us a long time to refine our list down to 6 core values. We started with probably closer to 10 or 15, and over time we combined some, we took on feedback from our team and changed some, and we dropped some.
We have 6 core values
For each value, we have attached a quote that we think speaks to the value more deeply. I’ll include that quote and some more explanation below. Each of our values applies to both our team and company, and the Human Health product we’re building.
💜 Be clear and be kind
"Honesty without kindness is cruel. Kindness without honesty is manipulation. Honesty with kindness is integrity."
We have been in team cultures where the kindness is overwhelming, but you feel something is lingering beneath the surface. We have also been in cultures where there is very little kindness - it is very direct, verging on mean. Neither of these are ways we want to operate at Human Health. We want a culture where people are open with their thoughts, but are open in a way that is compassionate and considerate of others. Be clear and be kind.
🧠 Simpler is smarter
"If you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it."
We have worked with many people who thought a 20 page document with big words, tonnes of diagrams and linking spreadsheets made them a superstar - but lacked the consideration of the humans at the other end of those documents, and lacked the ability to turn those documents into action. At Human Health we value communication that breaks concepts down to their essence, is action-oriented, and speaks in human terms that everyone can understand.
We consider the person at the other end of our communications (as today, most people are inundated with messages) and so the simpler we can explain something, the better we know it will be received and actioned.
🏥 Fix systems, not symptoms
"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Trying to treat the symptom of a problem, with no enquiry into what caused the problem, is simply inefficient — as it means the problem will likely come up again. This goes for the healthcare system as a whole, the human body, and our company.
At Human Health we want to get to the root cause of problems, so we can try to improve them for good.
🌎 Build impact, not empires
"You haven't truly lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
Our goal with Human Health is not to ‘dominate the world’ or become mega-rich. Our goal is to leave the world better than we found it. We’d like to get to our deathbeds (hopefully many years away) and feel good about what we’ve done with this company.
We also don’t want people on the team who are into world domination (or even team domination!) — if you care more about how many people report to you than how many lives you’re changing, you’re not going to fit in very well at Human Health :)
👐🏽 Lean into vulnerability
"To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable, to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
The ultimate paradox: it’s courageous to accept and share your weaknesses. At Human Health, we’re trying to build a culture where we keep our egos in check. If we start caring too much about one person’s ego and start to lose sight of the bigger picture, we will have failed miserably. Trying to change a huge global system is going to take a huge team effort; and a combination of skillsets, personalities, backgrounds and points of view. It’s really not about any one of us, it’s about achieving this big mission together.
🌈 Enjoy the ride :)
"Having fun is not a diversion from a successful life. It is the pathway to it."
My favourite value. I always put it at the end because it’s about optimising for joy the whole way through. If we made a huge difference in healthcare, figured out how to give everyone access to personalised medicine, and improved the lives of millions of people around the world — but were ridiculously stressed and miserable while we were doing it… would that really be worth it? I don’t think so. It’s important to optimise for joy when solving hard problems… it’s ultimately all we’ve got!
If any of these values resonate with you, and you have a passion for making a difference in healthcare, do check out our open roles or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org