A New Code for a New Day: Meltano Updates its Core Values

In August 2021, the Meltano team met in Mexico for four glorious days of face-to-face time. Fueled by all the varieties of tacos we could eat, we reveled in the opportunity to strengthen our bonds with one another and brainstorm a strategy and vision for our fledgling company. One subject of hot debate was whether to keep the GitLab core values that had guided us or update the ones we had; we chose the latter option.

Everyone brought their passion and enthusiasm to developing Meltano’s values. We all offered words that reflected our most deeply held ideals and beliefs. It was tough to drill them down to just seven terms that would comprise our core foundational values. So we were stoked when we nailed down the seven principles that would guide our actions and decisions about how we—and Meltano—would conduct business. These values, which we announced in September 2021, were: 

  • Empathy
  • Community
  • Sustainability
  • Transparency
  • Iteration
  • Ambition
  • Accountability

As time went on, though, our values began to feel somewhat like a legacy tool or old code that was made for an earlier iteration of ourselves. It was frustrating that we couldn’t quite connect with the values we’d put so much time and energy into developing.

Over the last year, we’ve had several discussions to diagnose—and fix—the problem. We agreed that our values weren’t much more than words on a page because they: 

  • Weren’t memorable: Even our core team often had trouble remembering all our values.
  • Were great in theory, but not in practice: Many of our values were abstract; they didn’t shape our everyday work or our business decisions, which we see as the core purpose of values.  
  • Didn’t reflect our conviction that we only succeed together: Meltano is rooted in its open-source ethos, and our community’s engagement and participation is integral to our ongoing viability and growth. 

At first glance, these conclusions might seem demoralizing, but to us, it was just the opposite. Life is about change: we evolve or risk irrelevancy. We’ve seen firsthand that questioning our own—and our organizational—status quo is a good thing that sparks growth and innovation.  

Based on what we learned in our first year of operation, we knew we needed values that would explicitly define how we work together and how great work happens. And now that we knew the “what” and “why” behind the disconnect, the solution was obvious. We needed to go back to the drawing board and identify (or select) values from our more informed perspective. We needed values that would provide practical guidance every day—for us as individuals and for Meltano as a company.

With that realization, we bid adieu to our initial values. We’d crafted them in sincerity and good faith, and they were a good place to start. (The only thing to regret was that this time, we weren’t in New Mexico, with access to all the tacos we could eat!)     

Meltano Values V2.0

Meltano’s new core values will serve as our guide, spanning how we conduct day-to-day business, make decisions, hire, and build our product. They are:

  • Believe in better
  • Progress over perfection
  • Together we thrive
  • Kindness is key 

Our refreshed values will serve as our guide that spans how we conduct day-to-day business, make decisions, hire, and build our product. We also want to bring the “progress over perfection” (rapid iteration) and the “together we thrive” (collaboration) values to the teams that use Meltano because these values are central to DataOps and to working in the open.

Drilling Down: How do our Updated Values Play Out in the Real World?

Let’s take a deeper look at what our values mean to us and how we express and apply them:

“Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

Believe in Better: We aim to set the bar ever-higher, both for our aspirations and our drive to exceed them.

As  optimists who envision a better future and think of everything as a work in progress, we’re committed to being a net-positive company that takes net-positive actions. And when we miss the mark, it’s our responsibility—to ourselves, our teams, and our community—to hold ourselves accountable and focus on learning from our mistakes and moving forward together.     

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” (Vincent Van Gogh)

Progress Over Perfection: We iterate in smaller increments so we can realize value quickly, get feedback from our community and teams, and take better next steps.

We’re oriented toward action, toward continually improving our products and processes, and we achieve big goals by taking continuous positive steps forward. When we fall, we pick ourselves up, make note of the hole we discovered, embrace critical feedback, and try again. And we never forget that we’re running a marathon, not a sprint, so we invest with a long-term view in our people, community, and products. 

“Technology is best when it brings people together.” (Matt Mullenweg)

Together We Thrive: We’ve seen firsthand that having more voices at the table leads to better results and that close collaboration with users builds the best tools.

Our open-source commitment extends to an open-door policy. We want anyone to be able to learn about and weigh in on or question everything, and that means across-the-board transparency. We see our community as an extension of our teams and strive to give them the same access so it’s easy for them to contribute their ideas and thoughts. We never forget that there’s no Meltano without our diverse teams, users and contributors, all of whom make us and our products better.  

“Transparency, honesty, kindness, good stewardship, even humor, work in businesses at all times.” (John Gerzema)

Kindness is Key:  None of us are perfect.

We all have bad days or go through extended tough times. This inevitability makes it even more important to bring kindness and a default assumption of goodwill top-of-mind in our interactions—and to acknowledge and self-correct when we don’t. So when disagreements arise, we take it as a chance to learn a new perspective, fill in a gap in our knowledge or to correct a mistaken assumption. We also want our people to practice self-kindness—for instance, feeling free to take a break when they need one. 

Go Big or Go Home

Meltano has big ambitions, and we need big values to support our mission of enabling everyone to realize the full potential of their data. We don’t expect to achieve our aspirations quickly or easily, but we do plan to get there and to be around for a long time, which will mean continually setting new, ever-higher goals and visions. In fact, we’ve already done so in less than a year by expanding our strategy and vision in late 2021, which culminated in the June launch of your open source DataOps platform infrastructure, Meltano 2.0.  

We expect our new core values to be useful in guiding our business decisions and our personal actions now and in the near future as we tackle our next big goal of building Managed Meltano. We expect to have the beta launch in late 2022 and open to the public in 2023. You can get a quick preview of what Managed Meltano will deliver or be first in line to be part of the test by filling out this waitlist form. Or, follow our progress on GitHub.


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