Innovation is born through the exchange and refinement of ideas among people, disciplines, cultures, and nations. BMNT focuses on government innovation because public organizations are forced to solve the most consequential global problems. The only path toward liberty and prosperity for all is a 21st century led by America and her allies.
This mission transcends our organization. It transcends existing team members. It transcends our founders. Yet, it embodies why we do the work that we do.
To accomplish this mission, we’ve built an organization with a unique and vibrant culture. This document is our best attempt to capture the essence of that culture.
The uniqueness of our culture is best broken down into five key organizational design principles:
We value creative thought and creative approaches to solving problems.
The foundation of our company is rooted in military discipline. The rigor and functionality of our products empower us to confidently tackle the biggest problems.
There are no siloed jobs here. BMNT roles are filled by team members who self-organize to experiment toward ever-better ways to create value.
Our mission is huge, complex, and daunting. We persevere because of our belief that the work we do is pursuing revolutionary yet attainable goals.
We operate with a sense of purpose, integrity, and mutual respect. The work we do with our clients is among the best in the world.
Bring Yourself to Work
In the real world, you operate autonomously. You make your own financial decisions, you abide by an internal moral code, you obey the laws of your state and country, you take care of dependents. You make all kinds of decisions that help you advance in life. That doesn’t change when you walk in the door at BMNT.
We know that if we hire great people, most of the time we will make great decisions on behalf of the organization. And when we do make mistakes, it will be just that — a mistake —and not a malicious act.
Most companies compile a long list of activities and behaviors that are either not permitted, or encouraged, attempting to identify every conceivable edge case of human behavior – BMNT is not one of those companies.
We expect all employees at BMNT to bring their best selves to work every day.
For BMNT to be able to embody its stated principles, we expect our team members to exhibit a common set of values that aligns with their own. If the following values resonate with you personally and professionally, there’s a good chance you’ll find much in common with other members of the BMNT team.
Problems, not solutions
– Be curious, ask questions
– Don’t assume you know the problem or the solution
– Aspire to understand context & descend into the particulars
– Delivering value to customers is the only thing that matters
– Don’t invent rules or unnecessary process
– Use necessary process to free up energy to deliver more value
Make good decisions, seek good advice
– Work in the best interest of the larger group
– If you’re unsure about something, seek advice
– Don’t ask for permission to make a decisionIndividuals make decisions, not committees
Be autonomous, be accountable
– If you see an opportunity, act on it
– Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
– Own the outcomes of your decisions
– Invite critique and feedback on your work
– Don’t create information silos
– Constantly share successes and failures
– Ask questions openly and inquisitively
– Don’t discriminate based on sex, race, gender or religion
– Strive to include team members you don’t normally work with
– Don’t say things in private you wouldn’t say in public
Build a Culture, Don’t Define It
One of the challenges in having a document that attempts to describe an organization’s culture is that it unintentionally becomes a definition of the culture. That is not the intent of this document. Sustainable cultures are those based on action, not words.
We often position the work that we do as the “least worst” way we know of at the time we’re doing that work. Much like the organization itself, this document is alive. It outlines the least worst way to think about BMNT’s culture as of the most recent time it was updated (late 2020, per its current iteration).
We fully expect this document to grow and change as does the organization, but it’s our stated intent to create a baseline for the organization that helps it stay true to the vision of its founders and to maintain the creativity and dynamism that has helped it succeed and grow.
This means striving to add the right team members that will help grow our culture and improve it – not just adhere to the standard that we’ve set forth. How our culture grows and adapts is entirely up to you, and we expect you to make a meaningful impact on the culture during your time here.
You’ll hear us talk a lot about “The Mission.” This carries over from our founders’ military roots. The Mission speaks to the act of serving our country and its ideals. You sign up for The Mission as a member of the BMNT team.
We believe that the constantly evolving experiment that is the United States of America is the least worst model that humanity has devised to solve complex geopolitical and social problems, and everything we do serves this core belief. It’s bigger than each of us individually, and bigger than BMNT.
The Interest of the Organization
As a general guiding philosophy, we ask employees to make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization. This means beyond yourself and your team or division, and thinking long-term. This extends to purchasing and travel decisions as well.
In some cases, purchasing and travel decisions are constrained by government rules that we must contractually adhere to. But in general, purchasing decisions that you must make in order to most effectively do your job are yours to own.
Outcomes vs. Activities
As you’ll quickly learn during your time here, we place value in outcomes above all else. As a team, we are constantly reassessing how we arrive at those outcomes.
BMNT uses a mixture of company-wide and team-specific systems. This is a balancing act between creative application of our energy to create value, and the ability to scale our impact by using common tools.
We currently leverage the OKR model for setting both organizational and team goals, Portfolio Charters for documenting how our teams interact with each other, and Creative Briefs to articulate specific lines of effort for our customers.
Growth vs. Structure
Given that the majority of the work we do is with government customers, we understand first-hand the danger of over-reliance on policies and procedures. We are confronted on a daily basis with the impact of policy-laden cultures. Tragically, employees limit the impact of their own work, the impact of their teams, and the impact of their organizations.
We don’t equate growth with rigidity. In fact, we recognize that in order to continue to do the work that we do, helping our customers break through their own bureaucracies, we cannot become one ourselves.
This means carefully controlling the growth of process and policy. It means continuing to encourage and reward creativity. It means that we’re willing to err on the side of trusting our employees to do the right thing, even if it means that on a rare occasion someone falls short of our collective expectations.
Why? Because the opposite of trust is fear. And the tools to limit that fear is policy. Once an organization starts down the road of inventing policy to address every potential situation, the battle for the organization’s culture is lost.
Risk Tolerance and Error Correction
Like most startups, BMNT has a pretty high threshold for risk, and so do the majority of its employees. We don’t ever envision this changing. This has afforded us the latitude to take calculated risks and to own the outcomes, both good and bad.
While growth affords opportunity to take new and bigger risks with the company, the stakes also rise, but so does our ability to error correct in the event that something doesn’t work out the way we planned. If anything, we should more easily be able to absorb “body blows” from failed experiments as a larger company.
How and Where Work Gets Done
BMNT is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA and we have a large presence in Washington DC as well. Both offices have ample workspace for employees to collaborate and to host customer activities.
Our workforce is distributed across the United States and the globe. Real, meaningful work gets done everywhere, not just in the office. We work on planes, on trains, in houses, in coffee shops, on own own, together, virtually – and this list goes on. We don’t mandate how employees choose to do their work or collaborate (see also: Bring Yourself to Work).
We’re also not a time-clock organization. We don’t set blanket working hours, and we try our best to leave evenings and weekends free of work so that employees can spend time with their friends, families or curled up with a good book (or binge-watching Netflix). Sometimes employees work at night, and very rarely on a weekend, but those cases are the exception to the rule.
We do not have a vacation policy, we have a work policy – employees take time when they need it, and as adults, are expected to coordinate with their team members who might be affected by their absence. We encourage all employees to take vacations and the senior leadership of the company sets the example for this through their actions.
Giving and Receiving Feedback
We encourage all employees to constantly solicit feedback from peers and senior employees, and also to deliver feedback candidly, constructively and immediately. Without feedback, we’re not able to improve as people and professionals. Further, failure to give feedback sometimes allows situations to persist and turn into bigger problems. Organizations rise or fall because of the daily habits of their members. We must be mindful of them and help each other to improve.
We have two complementary 1-on-1s held for every employee on a quarterly basis. One is a performance check-in with the senior leader of your portfolio, and the other is a career check-in with William. Our aim is to provide a consistent forum to exchange feedback at a more strategic level. When a BMNTer invests in these twin processes, they’re consistently the most valuable conversations that employees have on a regular basis.