In May 2019, seventy members of Imperva’s global leadership team gathered in one location to share insights, to develop and commit to our future strategy, and to build bikes. That’s right, to build bikes. Of course, that bit about developing and committing to our future strategy is undeniably critical. But the time spent building bikes turned out to be every bit as valuable as the time spent aligning on our long-term strategy. Controversial? Definitely. But stick with me. It’ll be worth it.
In August of 2018 and for the first time ever in our history, Imperva launched a credo. Merriam-Webster defines a credo as a set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group. Imperva’s credo sets forth our strategy, outcomes, and leadership qualities, but it also incorporates a set of core values. One of these values is to serve our communities by giving back to where we work and live.
A Very Good Cause
On the evening of the second day of Ops Review, Imperva’s global leadership team split into teams to assemble, test, and exercise long-dormant artistic abilities to decorate bicycles for underprivileged youth. Imperva partnered with Books for Bike, a local non-profit that presents young children with a bicycle when they read books. The bikes will go to children from Creighton Schools, where over 90% of students are below poverty level.
Encouraging reading and enabling healthy physical activities for underprivileged children are great causes that Imperva is proud to support. And undoubtedly, as I looked around that evening, it was readily apparent that a warm fuzzy feeling was spreading among Imperva’s many volunteers. When I asked Imperva volunteers to describe in a single sentence the biggest value of the event, their responses revolved around a sincere appreciation for the opportunity to provide a lasting benefit to young children.
Breaking Down Barriers
I also discovered that many responses revealed a subtle awareness and gratitude for the breaking down of barriers between Imperva employees. The opportunity to interact with both new and old Imperva team members in a completely new but fun environment was breaking down barriers, encouraging collaboration and trust, and building a palpable community within Imperva’s leadership.
The next day, our CEO Chris Hylen would quote Coach Gregg Popovich, the longest tenured active coach in the NBA, who is known for breaking down barriers on his teams in similar, though more delicious, fashion.
Culture Shift to Drive Success
Here comes the potentially controversial part of this post. I believe the time spent building bikes was every bit as valuable as the time spent aligning on our long-term strategy. Certainly, a big part of that goes back to the great cause and the breaking down of barriers between Imperva leaders and teams.
The other key piece, no less important though potentially less obvious, is achieving broad buy-in for the values embraced by Imperva’s credo. Building company culture is no easy task. Yet in a single event, Imperva’s executive team and global leaders at the highest levels have shown they are ready and willing to embrace a guiding value of the Imperva credo. By doing so, Imperva has achieved a momentous shift in our collective acceptance and embrace of our credo. And it’s this internalization of the credo framework across each leader, department, team, and employee that will drive Imperva to be a world-class, profitable growth company.
So let’s build bikes and ride fast together.