Zapier values

By Wade Foster • July 5, 2022

10+ years into Zapier's journey, our values continue to evolve. 

Zapier's values invite us to adopt a shared set of behaviors. They connect us to our mission, our culture, and each other. They guide decisions, big and small. They remind us of who we are when we're at our best. Without values, we default to the majority, leaving us with hidden rules and no "Zapier way" to promote inclusion and define what's right.

These five Zapier values were first published in 2018. In 2022, we reviewed our values and decided to retain and refresh them. We specifically updated our value descriptions and examples using input from across Zapier, with a focus on how each value relates to two of Zapier's essential focus areas: (a) customer impact and (b) diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equity (DIBE).

The most successful Zapier team members embody these values. When setting the direction for our work, growing our team, and interacting with our customers, we look to our values to guide the way.

1. Default to action

At Zapier, we're building toward a future that does not yet exist. As a result, delivering something real today—and learning from it—is typically better than delivering something of questionably better quality next week.

However: action is not an achievement unto itself. Instead, our actions should connect to clear priorities and outcomes, especially what's best for our mission and customers.

Tips on how to apply (and not apply) this value:

Example (do this…) vs. Counter-example (...not this)

When I see a problem, I take action or bring it to the attention of someone who can help.

When I see a problem, I ignore it because I assume someone else will take action.

When prioritizing my day, I focus on efforts that align with my team's goals.

I start new projects without referencing the existing goals of my team or other teams.

I make decisions based on reasonably available information.

I wait to decide until all possible data is available.

I make big, tough-to-reverse decisions in consultation with others.

I make big, tough-to-reverse decisions on my own.

When considering what to work on next, I typically prioritize ideas that have the biggest upside.

When considering what to work on next, I typically prioritize ideas that minimize bad outcomes.

When approaching a project or question, I make sure we have a single, empowered decision-maker.

I move so quickly that I do not define who needs to make the decision.

In my work, I consider a diverse range of end-user needs.

I avoid important input that might slow down or complicate a decision.

When I see a problem, I seek out the best person to address it before fixing it myself.

I seek to fix things right away, even if another person or team is more capable of doing so.

2. Default to transparency 

We're a growing, distributed team across more than a dozen time zones. We do our best work when we make projects, processes, and systems available to everyone who needs them—inclusive of our customers. Transparency promotes equity and inclusion within our team and customer base. So work in public. Have discussions in the open and document your work.

Transparency does not mean consultation or consensus on all decisions. In fact, an important form of transparency is clarity on who is responsible for a decision and who will be consulted.

Tips on how to apply (and not apply) this value:

Example (do this…) vs. Counter-example (...not this)

I keep team members informed of relevant information so that there are rarely surprises.

I hold back information until just before it needs to be shared, even if it is a surprise to my teammates.

I'm clear about what people should expect from me—even if that reality disappoints. 

I obscure or minimize the truth in order to keep everyone happy.

I make it easy for others to follow my work by summarizing progress and decisions, and by sharing links to source material for deeper context.

I share raw notes with all details of my work, and expect others to make time to consume it all.

I communicate in clear, easy-to-understand language to help others engage with my work.

I use jargon or idioms that limit the impact and accessibility of my work.

I default to asynchronous methods to ensure the relevant people can access information. 

I default to sharing information live, or in other ways that limit others' ability to access information.

When sensitive details come my way, I think twice and consult a manager before sharing publicly.

I share far and wide just for transparency's sake.

I use transparency to encourage a high standard of excellence for our work—for example, by publishing retrospectives.

I use transparency to call out or shame people who make mistakes. 

I use transparency externally to build trust and momentum with our customers. 

I hide my work from customers out of worry that competitors might steal it. 

3. Grow through feedback

We set ambitious goals at Zapier. We want our customers, people, and company to grow. Achieving these goals requires us to regularly learn and improve. Thankfully, our success has more to do with how quickly we learn than how "perfect" we are in a given moment. 

Whether it's about how we work or the work itself, feedback enables growth. As such, feedback is one of Zapier's most essential practices. Even so, feedback can be hard to give and hard to receive. We make a point to become good at it anyway—it's just that important.

Tips on how to apply (and not apply) this value:

Example (do this…) vs. Counter-example (...not this)

I seek out and account for customer feedback.

I avoid customer feedback because it may critique my work, or because I know what's best for our customers.

When I receive feedback, I engage with and grow from it—no matter who it comes from.

I discount feedback that comes from outside my team or from a level below me.

I seek feedback from a diverse range of people, especially those who may see things differently.

I seek feedback only from people I already know, or from those most likely to agree with me.

When a teammate's work helps me grow, I say thanks by sharing how.

I keep positive feedback to myself.

I contribute to my teammates' growth by sharing feedback.

I stay silent to avoid feeling uncomfortable or hurting others' feelings.

I provide feedback directly and compassionately, with the ultimate goal of helping the other person.

I provide feedback that is vague or hard to act on.

When I disagree with feedback, I work to deepen my understanding of the other person's perspective.

When I disagree with feedback, I dismiss, retaliate, or choose not to act on it.

4. Empathy over ego

Our customers and teams are part of a global community. To serve them best, we need to understand them. Empathy promotes understanding, curiosity, and humility—qualities that help us connect with and serve our customers. Empathy has similar positive effects on collaboration and belonging within our team.

On ego: we all have them, and it's important that we share our perspectives in pursuit of what's right. But sometimes ego can bias our thinking too strongly toward our own views. It's for this reason that we emphasize empathy over ego. 

Tips on how to apply (and not apply) this value:

Example (do this…) vs. Counter-example (...not this)

I work with others to generate great ideas.

I work alone because I know what's best.

I take interest in teammates' and customers' well-being because it builds trust and belonging.

I treat teammates and customers as resources to help me achieve tasks.

When I fail, I learn.

When I fail, I'm no good.

If you succeed, I am inspired.

If you succeed, I have less opportunity.

We win and lose as a team.

I focus on my own success rather than my team's.

I adapt my plans and priorities based on new information, whether from customers or teammates. 

I stick with existing plans without seeking out or accounting for perspectives that may influence those plans.

I take responsibility for the impact of my words and actions—not simply their intent.

What matters most is that I mean well, no matter how my words or actions are perceived by others.

5. Build the robot

No matter your role, you'll find yourself doing repetitive work. Zapier is all about finding ways to work better—whether through automation, simplification, or prioritization—so that we can spend more time doing what humans do best. 

Note that it's unhelpful to automate or simplify the wrong process or outcome. Manual, less efficient processes are often the right approach early on. We default to action and accept inefficiency when it helps confirm the problems we're solving, and to test solutions for those problems.

Tips on how to apply (and not apply) this value:

Example (do this…) vs. Counter-example (...not this)

When I see repetitive tasks, I find tools, processes, or code that can help us grow efficiently.

I do things the way they've always been done because it's familiar.

I figure out what the robot needs to do through experimentation and manual attempts—I then build the robot suited for the job.

I build robots before I know what is going to be most useful.

I optimize for efficiency after testing the underlying process.

I seek efficiency for its own sake, without consideration for effectiveness or unintended consequences.

I find better ways to do my role, even if I work myself out of that role.

I avoid exploring new ways to do something out of fear that it will impact my role.

I find ways to do more with our current resources.

I default to additional resources as the only way to expand capacity or outcomes.

I prioritize efficiency and impact over perfection and precision.

I apply time and effort until my work is perfect.

I learn about customers' and teammates' needs and use that to inform the solutions I build.

I assume what worked in the past is still best today.