Keeping Core Values First
Often an organization’s core values are things that sound nice in practice, but are really hard to trace through to implementation. At Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood we strive to be different. Our values are at the fore of all our work and we remind ourselves, our fellows, and our network about what we stand for constantly. We seek to actively live out those things we think are fundamental to building new technology for those traditionally overlooked. It’s not always easy but it is important. Our values are:
Courage – We jump into the unknown and the uncomfortable with transparency and honesty. For example, building technology that is based on the joys, frustrations, and articulated needs of people is challenging because people are complex. Understanding how to best take into account these complexities is something we’re constantly working to improve, but we do not let the unknown or the uncomfortable stop us and we try to be as upfront about the process along the way.
Empathy – We value and endeavor to understand the diverse lived experiences of all our neighbors: people are more than the challenges they face.For example, our product design process begins with one-on-one conversations with New Yorkers from across the city, from every borough. People are experts in their own lives and we encourage all our technologists to actively listen and account for others’ experiences at the very outset of a new product.
Collaboration – We acknowledge, celebrate and depend on the whole community to contribute to our process.For example, we actively seek out the expertise of front-line non-profit service providers. We believe that people who work daily serving the underserved have many critical insights into the current gaps and opportunities for how tech might impact their beneficiaries – more so than any of us at Blue Ridge Labs.
Learning Boldly – We encourage learning and experimentation, and actively seek to challenge ourselves and each other.For example, one of the common sayings around our office is no new product survives first contact with the user. We’re continually holding product-testing sessions because the user, the real person, has the best insights around what makes a product delightful, and what’s problematic. And we love when people prove our assumptions wrong!