Forming our Core Values
by Stewart Reed, Customer Success Manager & Cultural Lead
How TrueRoll Explored and Uncovered Our Shared Values
Like many businesses and organizations around the world, TrueRoll faced some interesting challenges in the last year or so. We grew our team from a dynamic duo of co-founders Joe Walsh and Tyler Masterson to a multi-talented squad of nine. Along the way, we learned how to collaborate and communicate effectively from our home offices. Most of us haven’t even met in person because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While a positive company culture is growing and thriving at TrueRoll, we recently decided it was time to formally discuss and codify our values as an organization. Not only will this help us present our core values to prospective employees, clients, and business partners, but it also provides a valuable framework to guide our work internally. While we have all had cooperative relationships so far, we have also heard stories of startups that grew too fast without a shared sense of purpose.
Why did we feel the need to discuss our values?
So far, our team has been on the same page on almost every major decision, but what if that changed? Even in a group of big-hearted, like-minded people with a shared vision, there is a chance that something will come up that will cause tension. It’s in these moments of disagreement that commitment to a shared set of values is most important, as a guidepost to help move forward in a way that doesn’t violate our collective conscience.
We are also mindful of how powerful data is, and how balancing public good and privacy is critical. Our goal is to help our clients in their work to achieve property tax equity across their jurisdictions, not to get involved in debates over voter fraud and other distractions from our mission to make the world a better place.
“A question we ask ourselves is, “How will what we are building be used? How could what we are building be abused?” And discussions around those two questions (or similar ones) help frame an approach that is really unique in my experience.”
- Nathan Maynes, Principal Data Engineer
The Value Revealing Process
As a company, we are committed to driving equity in property taxation and assessment not just through the applications and products we develop, but also through a deep commitment to making a difference in our client communities. In uncovering our shared values, we did not want to create an arbitrary list of words to stick on the virtual office wall, but rather a set of visible principles that reflected what we were already striving for every day.
“When I first interviewed with the team, I was impressed with what everyone shared about how they were trying to make a difference in the world of property taxation. Once I joined TrueRoll, I loved that it wasn’t just talk, but that we were really committed to that in what we do as a company every day.”
- Sandy Steele, Marketing Manager
We all spent some time writing down words that we personally felt described TrueRoll’s values. Then, using a great tool from Poll Everywhere, we all shared our list to reveal some common overlapping ideas. Some clear themes emerged, and proved a great starting point for some honest and transparent discussion.
After some additional time to reflect, we decided that equity was not just a value, but the core of the way TrueRoll develops data solutions and tools for our clients. With equity as a firm foundation, we chose a number of other complementary values that reflected our conversation, including innovation, integrity, empowerment, accuracy and inclusion.
Equity is the keystone value at TrueRoll, and informs us every day in our pursuit of fair and equitable tax rolls for our clients. As the main interface between governments and citizens, taxation is a massive lever-arm for social equity, and the current policies in place continue to be largely regressive. TrueRoll strives to illuminate and reconcile these equity challenges.
Innovation means thinking in creative ways to produce novel, impactful initiatives. We recently leveraged our data science platform to help St Johns County in Florida identify and contact taxpayers who were potentially qualified for an exemption, but not currently claiming it.
Integrity means always referencing our values when making important decisions with our clients, business partners, and colleagues. Running a sustainably-profitable business is one of our goals, but never at the expense of our values.
“I see equity and empowerment in the way we frame our delivery to clients; it’s important to us to provide the same caliber of analysis to counties of all sizes. The way we work to meet them at the point of their resource constraint ensures that each of them is getting the same value from our product relative to their individual circumstances.”
- Matt Amann, Data Engineer
Accuracy, as a data service provider, means providing as accurate a service as possible, (both data, AI, and customer configurations) with as low latency as possible for our solutions and customers that rely on them.
Inclusion means being mindful and empathic to our differences, both on our team and within our customer family. Inclusion manifests itself internally in our daily standup meetings. Everyone on the team has a chance to be heard, while sharing their challenges and motivations within the frame of their own experiences of those events.
Customer Success Manager & Cultural Lead
Stewart is a former public school educator who values lifelong learning and critical thinking skill-building, because the future success of our society relies on being able to interpret and use information and data. He has a background in financial crimes and fraud investigation, as well as customer success initiatives.