Uber has replaced Travis Kalanick’s values with eight new “cultural norms”

Culture vulture.
Culture vulture.
Image: Reuters/Adriano Machado
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As part of his overhaul of the culture at Uber, new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced the ride-sharing company has adopted eight new “cultural norms,” in essence replacing the 14 values first introduced by his predecessor, Travis Kalanick, in 2015.

Khosrowshahi, who posted the new norms on LinkedIn, says they’re intended to be updated as the company evolves. “The culture and approach that got Uber where it is today is not what will get us to the next level,” he wrote “As we move from an era of growth at all costs to one of responsible growth, our culture needs to evolve.”

Here are the new norms and Khosrowshahi’s description for each:

We build globally, we live locally. We harness the power and scale of our global operations to deeply connect with the cities, communities, drivers and riders that we serve, every day.

We are customer obsessed. We work tirelessly to earn our customers’ trust and business by solving their problems, maximizing their earnings or lowering their costs. We surprise and delight them. We make short-term sacrifices for a lifetime of loyalty.

We celebrate differences. We stand apart from the average. We ensure people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome. We encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard, and then we come together and build.

We do the right thing. Period.

We act like owners. We seek out problems and we solve them. We help each other and those who matter to us. We have a bias for action and accountability. We finish what we start and we build Uber to last. And when we make mistakes, we’ll own up to them.

We persevere. We believe in the power of grit. We don’t seek the easy path. We look for the toughest challenges and we push. Our collective resilience is our secret weapon.

We value ideas over hierarchy. We believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere, both inside and outside our company. Our job is to seek out those ideas, to shape and improve them through candid debate, and to take them from concept to action.

We make big bold bets. Sometimes we fail, but failure makes us smarter. We get back up, we make the next bet, and we go!

If they read as though they were drafted by a committee, it’s because they were. Khosrowshahi said he wanted the norms to reflect the goals and ambitions of Uber’s employees, and so he asked for submissions, and then convened 20 working groups to hash them out.

That’s a stark departure from how Kalanick arrived at his 14 values for Uber. The ousted CEO said he spent hundreds of hours huddled with senior executives drafting them, before they were unveiled to employees from a stage at a 2015 employee retreat at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

Here are Kalanick’s 14 values, along with commentary from Brad Stone, author of The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb and the Killer Companies of the new Silicon Valley Are Changing the World, as presented in Stone’s book:

Customer obsession (Start with what is best for the customer.)

Make magic (Seek breakthroughs that will stand the test of time.)

Big bold bets (Take risks and plant seeds that are five to ten years out.)

Inside out (Find the gap between popular perception and reality.)

Champion’s mind-set (Put everything you have on the field to overcome adversity and get Uber over the finish line.)

Optimistic leadership (Be inspiring.)

Superpumped (Ryan Graves’s original Twitter proclamation after Kalanick  replaced him as CEO; the world is a puzzle to be solved with enthusiasm.)

Be an owner, not a renter (Revolutions are won by true believers.)

Meritocracy and toe-stepping (The best idea always wins. Don’t sacrifice truth for social cohesion and don’t hesitate to challenge the boss.)

Let builders build (People must be empowered to build things.)

Always be hustlin’ (Get more done with less, working longer, harder, and smarter, not   just two out of three.)

Celebrate cities (Everything  we do is to make cities better.)

Be yourself (Each of us should be authentic.)

Principled confrontation (Sometimes the world and institutions need to change in order for the future to be ushered in.)

Khosrowshahi preserved some of Kalanick’s values, like big bold bets and being an owner, but jettisoned others as no longer representing Uber or the company it aspires to be, he said.  “For instance, ‘toe-stepping’ was meant to encourage employees to share their ideas regardless of their seniority or position in the company,” Khosrowshahi noted in his post on LinkedIn, “but too often it was used as an excuse for being an asshole.”