Organisational Vision

An enduring organisation that is people-positive and disciplined and that constantly innovates from within; an organism made up of small, autonomous, cross-functional teams pursuing a variety of missions, guided by one joint vision and a common set of values.

What does an enduring organisation look like?

An enduring organisation, just like a living organism, survives and thrives by adapting to its environment. It develops resilience by learning from its successes and failures, and it can regenerate and repair itself to remain healthy.

Like any organism, SumUp is made up of cells that work together. Our cells are teams of smart, healthy, motivated people. Those cells function best when they have the nutrients and support they need: a strong sense of purpose, the autonomy to make a wide range of decisions and a work environment where we can grow, where it is safe to be ourselves, where compensation is fair, and which is fun. To ensure the cells are acting in concert and taking the organism in the direction it wants to go requires a meaningful vision and bold goals from leadership.

As the environment in which we operate changes, we want SumUp to stay healthy by continuously adapting and evolving. To that end, we are building a culture where constant learning and self-improvement are integral to every facet of how we operate. 

People positive

Being a people-positive organisation means making the development and happiness of our people an important, continuing goal. It includes getting the best talent, giving them honest feedback, and empowering them to make decisions in pursuit of our mission and in line with our values. SumUp is a place where people development is integral to our organisational vision, where radical candour is practised regularly and where everyone enjoys working together.

Innovation from within

Adaptability requires innovation, and to be scalable, innovation needs to happen spontaneously and systemically within the organisation. We owe much of SumUp’s success to cultivating a culture of innovation. We do that by setting the bar high and challenging ourselves to figure out a way to clear it. Wild ideas and creative solutions are encouraged. We champion a constant stable of loonshots that we invest in, even where doing so goes against conventional “business sense”. If you have a great idea for how to help SumUp achieve its vision, we want to support you in going for it.

Moreover, although we are a globally distributed company with over a dozen offices, we believe that teams work best when they are co-located, i.e. when they spend as much time as possible in the same physical space. Technology makes it easier to communicate across borders and locations every day, and yet the best connections, ideas and true innovation are usually born when you can just turn around to have a real-life interaction with your team.

Small, autonomous & cross-functional teams

Agility is the essence of an enduring organisation, and we strive to create an organisation that fosters it. Rather than hierarchies and bureaucracy, we believe in giving SumUppers the autonomy to be creative, take risks, engage in thoughtful experimentation, and break unnecessary rules. If we fail, we fail fast and try something else. We bring a lean mentality to everything we do. Our end goal is to build an anti-fragile, agile organisation that can excel and adapt in any environment.

To achieve that goal, SumUp’s organisation is built around small, autonomous, cross-functional teams. Each team owns a particular value stream, has the full set of necessary skills, and is given the freedom to deliver that value stream as they see fit. Rather than having teams specialised in one function, we try to build cross-functional teams that are self-sufficient, self-organised, and self-motivated.

To balance autonomy, we have to embrace accountability. Autonomy is not simply giving people the freedom to do as they please. We have adopted a “context over control” approach to decision making that emphasises the importance of cross-functional collaboration and communication so that decision makers can make informed decisions on their own. Therefore, people must take ownership of their decisions and foster such accountability on their team so that we can learn from both our successes and our failures. Our bottom-up approach of giving context versus the traditional hierarchical, top-down approach of control ties in with our goal of being a continuously learning, continuously adapting organisation. We approach every task as a learning opportunity today, which empowers us to make smarter decisions tomorrow. 

Our idea of a small team is inspired by Amazon’s "two-pizza-rule" We believe that our immediate team should usually not exceed a certain size in order to form a healthy and high performing team where communication is simple and constant. This is why most of our teams and squads don’t exceed that size. However, it can be crucial to assemble bigger, temporary teams around a specific initiative or mission depending on the context.

When assembling teams, it’s also important that we ask ourselves what skills are needed to deliver on a specific mission (skill mapping) rather than which person is needed. We believe we are most productive when people with complementary skills work together in a team. As most of our projects require a variety of different skills, most of our teams are cross-functional. This means instead of having, for instance, a design department delivering a finalized design to a development department, which delivers a finalized product to a sales department, a cross-functional team might include people with design skills, development skills and sales skills all at the same time. 

Variety of missions guided by one shared vision

SumUp’s vision is a world where everyone can build a thriving business. A vision as broad and multifaceted as this can only be achieved by breaking it down into smaller steps and individual missions. In SumUp’s early years, we focused our efforts on becoming the world’s first global card acceptance brand. Since then, our activities have evolved far beyond card payments, with teams today working on missions ranging from consumer financial services to loyalty (CRM) to point-of-sale SaaS products. But through all that, our vision remains the same and provides a north star to ensure that all teams are moving in the same direction.

Common set of values

In order to reap the benefits of being part of the same organism, our cells (teams) need to share a common way of working. While that could be achieved by defining strict rules and processes, the SumUp way to do this while maintaining autonomy is to agree on the fundamental principles that guide our actions and decisions: our values. SumUp’s values are built on three main pillars: “Founder’s Mentality”, “Team First”, and “We Care”.