Four Kitchens

Always improve: iterating on company values

3 Min. ReadWork life

Set Knowledge Free

At Four Kitchens, our mission is to change the world by setting knowledge free. Literally. That’s the opening line of our company mission statement. We may make big websites, we may be listed in the phonebook under “digital strategy consultants” but that’s what we do and not who we are as a team. We are dedicated to sharing our knowledge, engaging in free-culture communities, and working with open-source software on projects that not only deliver a shiny product, but that give back to the world.

Four Kitchens recently had our company retreat, a time when we brought all the Web Chefs together, from all over the country, to the Hill Country of Central Texas, to spend three days recommitting ourselves to the mission, spending time with each other, and building our team culture. At the retreat, we got the chance to collaborate on a revamp of our core values and set our goals for the year to reinvigorate us as a whole.

The Way of the Web Chef

There are five core values at Four Kitchens. They speak not only to the type of personal qualities a Web Chef should embody as an individual, but also the way we interact with each other as teammates and with our clients:

  • Be transparent, generous, and humble.
  • Take the initiative and own the outcome.
  • Empathize.
  • Always improve.
  • Embrace open source.

The personal qualities we need from our teammates are really the same qualities we might look for in a new friend. We seek people who can be transparent, generous, and humble – giving credit where it’s due, teaching one another, and celebrating each other’s success – and we want people to empathize – to solve problems not from their own perspective, but with an eye towards diverse viewpoints.

When it comes to what kind of work we do, we embrace open source. This is fundamental to our mission of setting knowledge free. If we live in a world of proprietary and walled-off code, we run the risk of becoming the digital equivalent of Iron-age China – unaware of the developments happening all around us, and ultimately, left behind as a result of our own fears.

Finally, we spent time at the retreat talking about how we work, making sure our values are consistent with what our CEO and co-Founder, Todd Nienkerk, has called a “culture of empowerment”. We want team members to know that they have the responsibility to take the initiative and own the outcome – that they are the ones who should come up with great ideas, implement them, and be accountable to them, whether they are successes or failures. And, lastly, we always improve. We have to embrace change, we have to constantly refine the tools we use and the processes we follow, and we have to be open – every single one of our Web Chefs knows they can make a suggestion and discuss ways to improve the company at any time, not just the one weekend a year when we’re all gathered around a single table.

Welcome to the new Four Kitchens

We have some amazing goals in place for the coming year and beyond, and making sure we stay true to our company values, making sure our values support our mission, and checking in with ourselves and each other to ensure our mission supports our people, is how we’ll make it. Welcome to the latest iteration of Four Kitchens, we make big websites, because we believe big in our team.