Looker Blog : Data Matters

Looker’s Data-Driven Culture – It’s not just about the data

Carolyn Hughes, VP of Talent & Culture

Oct 21, 2015

The best Corporate Cultures are real. They feel real. And although they may vary dramatically in substance and character, the real-ness is immediately palpable when you’re present in such an organization.

So what makes a culture real?

At Looker, we believe it’s when our internal value proposition is well aligned with the external value that our product is delivering out in the world. The brand is consistent. Working at Looker should feel similar to the experience of leveraging the Looker product in a Customer Company.

So how do we make that happen?

First, we pay close attention to the impact that Looker has on the businesses that we serve. We see (and talk a lot about) Looker enabling a real, data-driven culture to emerge in our customer organizations.

Looker in the office

But what does that mean, exactly? Does it mean we toss out ideas and intuition in favor of data? Does it mean that the person with the best data wins? Well, of course not... we believe that a true data-driven culture has far more depth.

“We are Enabled.”

Fundamentally, that depth is about access; access to the key drivers of the business for any and all who are curious enough to look. And not just static access – access to explore: to conduct “what if” scenarios, to test hypotheses, to have an idea that leads to another idea, that then leads to a breakthrough. Looker enables everyone in the business to combine curiosity and intuition with real-time results, leading to actionable “a-ha” moments that fuel innovation and success.

Looker all hands

So enablement is a big part of our internal culture here at Looker. Sometimes it is about providing specific tools and environments -- like our “big table of questions and answers”, our explicit team ramp plans, our mentor assignments, or our proprietary internal information sharing system affectionately known as “Lou”. Other times, enablement is about purposefully not imposing excess infrastructure that seems overkill or outdated – such as formalized annual performance reviews, or tracking and policing of time off. Our goal is always to enable our employees to do their best work, with minimal bureaucracy and maximum fulfillment.

“We are Empowered.”

Your smartest and most valuable analysts are the curators of company-wide data enablement in Looker businesses. Looker empowers these analysts to leverage their skills and insights across the entire organization. Look ML and Looker Blocks endow analysts with the tools they need to be 10x as productive and prolific as they once were, leveraging their skills to literally every user group in the company.

So empowerment is a big part of our internal culture, as well. We hire really smart people, and get out of their way. Some instances of empowerment are endemic to our core, like our conviction on the dev team that the “innovator holds the pen” when inventing new features and designing new experiences. Others are more aspirational, such as our CEO’s commonly referenced motto of “here’s the ball, run!” We aim to continually nurture empowerment in our environment by rewarding initiative, and celebrating fast failure.

“We are Entrusted.”

The foundation of a data-driven culture is trust. Looker businesses are transparent. Democratized data implies and instills a high-trust culture. This is perhaps our most poignant effect on our customer organizations. Looker entrusts everyone with access to business data, curated into the context for which it is most meaningful to them.

Looker all hands

So naturally, trust is the foundation of our culture here at Looker, too. We’ve discovered that if you want people to behave in a trust-worthy manner, then trust them. Our policies for things like expenses, travel, time off and in-office expectations are almost always rooted in trusting our employees to use good judgment. And they do!

So there you have it: Enabled, Empowered, Entrusted. We are Looker.

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