Creating A Company Constitution

There is always a big focus on a company mission statement or mantra – the goal with a mission statement is that you will outline the core values that drive your company and that this statement can be used to help the company stay on course through the great times and the challenging times.

The mission statement is analogous to the declaration of independence – it didn’t define how our government would work but it outlined the core values that would govern the new nation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

I would work at a company with a mission statement like this.

The problem with mission statements is that because they are short and broad they can be easily manipulated. Re-read the preamble to the Declaration above and then remember that this is a country where slavery was legal for 100 years despite clearly stating that all men are created equal. Most company mission statements and mantra are either ignored or manipulated to the point where they are useless.

It’s the Constitution that lays down the core laws of our country and instead of focusing on a mission statement companies should be building a constitution.

Over the last couple of weeks as I have thought about this I have started on the Adzerk constitution:

  1. Adzerk will not outsource any of the core parts of our business which includes development, operations, support, marketing, or sales.
  2. Adzerk will only work with libraries and platforms released under open source licenses.
  3. Adzerk will not work with recruiters to fill development, operations, or support roles.
  4. Adzerk will not engage in any form of spam including the buying of any email list.
  5. Adzerk employees will answer every legitimate email that it receives in a timely manner. (see Answer every damn email)
  6. Adzerk will not work with companies replacing or displaying ads on properties they don’t own through the use of toolbars or other software installed on a customers computer.
  7. Adzerk will not work with companies purposely engaging in digital piracy.
A sub-section is the employee bill of rights
  1. Employees will have unlimited vacation and should take at least 5 days off in a row at least once per year.
  2. Employees will always be provided insurance and insurance made available for their families, spouses, or civil partners.
  3. Employees will always be free to work on side-projects in their spare time – they own all rights to these projects as long as they aren’t competitive with Adzerk.
  4. Employees will only be required to be in the office at least 3 days of the week and before the first team meeting of the day.
  5. Employees will have twelve weeks paid maternity leave and four weeks paid paternity leave.

Over the next couple of weeks and months I will be flushing this out with the help of the rest of the team and then the Adzerk Constitution will be ratified by a majority of members of the company.

Just like the US Constitution this will be a fluid document – amendments can be added by the executive team but it will be done in a very transparent fashion. If someone wants to start working with a recruiting firm they would need to make their case why there should be an exception and carve out the specific scenario or company. I know that Adzerk will change and adapt in the coming years – but now we can at least be sure that it will be done consciously and deliberately.

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