Innovation is born through the open exchange of ideas between people, cultures and nations. BMNT exists to help foster government innovation in order to solve the most crucial problems facing our nation and the world. We believe that the clearest path toward liberty and prosperity for all is through ensuring a 21st century led by America and her allies.
This mission transcends our organization. It transcends existing team members. It even 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 people to confidently tackle the biggest problems.
There are no job titles here - only roles to be filled by team members who are always trying to experiment and find elegant and insightful new ways to create value.
Our mission is huge, complex, and daunting. Despite the inevitable obstacles, we persevere because of our belief that the work we do represents something bigger than any one of us.
We operate with a sense of purpose and integrity.
The work we do with our clients is among the best in the world.
Bring Yourself to Work
Out there in the real world, you operate completely autonomously – you make your own financial decisions, you abide by an internal moral code, you obey the laws of your state and country, you may even 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 hire for culture fit first, because we know that if we hire great people, 99.9% of the time they’ll make great decisions on behalf of the organization. And occasionally, when they do make a mistake – it will be just that, a mistake, and not some malicious act.
Many companies feel the need to 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 are in alignment 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 answer
Aspire to understand context and descend into the particulars
Focus on the problem
Create value, not process
Delivering value to customers is the only thing that matters
Don’t invent rules or unnecessary process
Make good decisions, seek good advice
Work in the best interest of the organization
If you’re unsure about something, seek advice
Don’t ask for permission to make a decision
Individuals make decisions, not committees
Be autonomous, be accountable
We hire brilliant adults to do brilliant work
If you see an opportunity, act on it
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Own the outcomes of your decisions
Learn from failure
Overshare, in the open
Don’t create information silos
Constantly share successes and failures
Ask questions openly and inquisitively
Don’t say things in private you wouldn’t say in public
Don’t discriminate based on sex, race, gender or religion
Strive to include team members you don’t normally work with
Invite critique and feedback on your work
Don’t horde information
You’ll hear us talk a lot about “The Mission” – this carries over from our founding team’s military roots, and it’s something you’ll likely hear our customers speak of as well. The Mission speaks to the act of serving our country, which you knowingly sign-up for 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 humankind 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 - how we arrive at those outcomes is something we figure out together, as a team.
Individual teams within BMNT determine systems that work best for them to track the outcomes of their activities and to share progress on the work they’re doing. 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, and 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 actively fighting the slow, cancerous 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 tool 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. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve never had to take outside investment, and this has afforded us the latitude to take on calculated risks and to own the outcomes of those decisions, good or 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 rarely gets done in a centralized 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.
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.