DaSL Culture and Work Style

We are building the Fred Hutch Data Science Lab to support the data community broadly as a part of the Hutch. As we build our data organization it is important to establish our values for how we work together and then what those values imply for how we work. These values have grown out of our experiences building data science groups at other organizations and the core importance we place on the people we work with. If people love where they work, feel like they are supported to do their work, and feel like they have the trust of the team to move forward, they will do incredible work! As with everything we do, we are shipping these values early so people can see them, provide feedback and be part of an open conversation about how we work.

How we treat each other

Be kind. We should treat each other with respect. This starts with our Code of Conduct  but goes beyond that; give each other grace and support. We will be doing big things and big things can be hard. Even when things we do are hard or require difficult conversations, we should endeavor to work together respectfully and give each other support.

We trust you. We hire each and every person with the intention that they can be responsible for creating new visions for our group will follow. We trust you to make the right decision and will support you as you make those decisions. We want you to feel confident that you can operate without having to ask for permission at every step of the way. When you make decisions that affect other people, we ask that you include them in the decision-making process. We will support your judgment when you make choices. 

We take care of our people. It is important to us that people in the group have opportunities for career progression, learning, and to do work they find meaningful. We want you to have the opportunity to develop new skills, take on challenging projects, and create a work product that you can be proud of. In general, we will also seek to provide as stable of funding as our system allows and will prioritize existing staff over new hiring whenever possible. Of course, we would like to have you on the team as long as possible, but if you find a great opportunity elsewhere, we will cheer you on and help you move into your next role.

Give each other permission to be human. We prioritize your ability to take care of yourself and those you care about. You do not need to get permission for time off, absences, or leave. We do ask that, when planning time off, you pay attention to the team’s deadlines and notify colleagues and those with whom you have commitments that you will be out.  Be sure to report hours in the Hutch system (as required for your position). Most importantly, take care of yourself: stay home when you are sick, go to doctor’s appointments, take that fitness class, get a green juice, take in a hike. Take care of others: pick your children up from school, volunteer to chaperone their field trip, be an amazing caregiver for a relative. Take time off: if you do not go on vacation, we might force you!

These values apply not just within our group but also to all the different groups we collaborate with both within the Fred Hutch and around the world.

How we work

If we treat each other well and provide people support to work on what they know, we can accomplish a lot together! An important part of building a new, highly collaborative group is making sure we understand how we expect people to work together. Here are the things we value when we are working together on projects!

Build things that will help people. Our goal as the FH DaSL is to help other people. We want to maximize the positive benefit we can have on the world. Sometimes that is helping people directly with training, community, documentation or support. Sometimes it is indirectly by building resources, software, infrastructure or processes that will help others. Sometimes it is supporting others so they can help people with any of the above. Our goal is for our work to make the world better. 

Whenever possible we don’t care where/when/how you work. We care about the outcomes of your work, not where you did it. We are committed to reducing pain and increasing joy through flexible, hybrid work. For this to be successful, that means communication is key - primarily written!! There will be lots of communication across and between groups via multiple avenues, so make sure you make time in your day to read. We ask that you prioritize developing a habit of writing: if necessary, explore new tools to enable this habit. The more we communicate, the more flexible we can be and the more diverse a group we can foster.

Ship as soon as you can.  Our success depends directly on creating drafts and prototypes, and sharing them as soon as possible. A draft document posted online is infinitely more valuable than a nearly perfect manuscript that only exists on your computer desktop. We ascribe to the model that David Robinson defined for how to understand value and believe we should work in the open whenever possible.

Perfectionism and fear of judgement will kill our work and we expect you to actively work against those impulses.This is only possible if (a) we are kind to each other, (b) we trust each other and (c) we take care of our people.

Seek feedback and update If you are on our team then part of the reason we hired you is that you are an opinionated specialist: you have good reasons to believe what you believe. However, we also aspire to hire people with wide-ranging areas of expertise and often work products improve the more brains and perspectives have been applied to them. Therefore, it is natural that we would want to offer each other constructive criticism and feedback. We ask that everyone is open to listening to and learning from every other person on our team and people outside of the team, and that you incorporate feedback into your work. Since we are shipping fast, we will have to seek feedback and update often! 

Communicate by writing any big decisions.  We have a lot of big decisions to make as a group. Since our team will be forever distributed geographically, if we are thinking about making a big decision that will impact a lot of people in the group, we should try to make that decision/discussion happen in a visible place in written form so people can weigh in asynchronously from wherever they are. 

Can we do this faster? When we are having a conversation about working on a project, be prepared to field the question: “Can we do this faster?”​ We acknowledge that speed comes with certain types of costs, so be prepared to outline different ways we could accelerate a project and what each of those possibilities would cost – financial and otherwise. In general, though, we would rather do something of value fast rather than trying to do the perfect thing slow. The exception, of course, is when laws, ethics, or regulations require us to be slow and careful. 

Be generous with credit. We all will benefit if credit is shared broadly. Always err on the side of giving too much credit and do not resist if someone feels they need more credit. There is plenty to go around and it will generate good will for us both internally and externally. Conversely, mistakes will happen! We should adopt a blameless correction of mistakes approach. Rather than figuring out who to blame, let’s figure out what happened and how to fix that if it has gone wrong. Credit should flow strongly down the org chart to the people doing the work and if blame must be assigned it should flow up to the top, stopping with the Chief Data Officer.

These principles will apply both within our group and when working with others. Remember that respecting others and being kind means when groups we collaborate with have different cultures than ours, we will adapt to respect those differences while striving to stay true to our goals about how we work. But wherever possible we will advocate for these values with other groups as well!