An enduring organisation that is people-positive 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 is like a living organism that survives and thrives by adapting to its environment and changing over time. It develops resilience by learning from its successes and failures, and it is able to 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 take 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 the leadership.
As the environment in which we operate changes, we want SumUp to stay healthy by adapting and evolving over time. To that end, we are building a culture where constant learning and self-improvement are integral to every facet of how we operate. That’s what we mean by an enduring organisation.
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. We want SumUp to be a place where people development is integral to our organisational vision, where radical candour is practiced regularly, where “political” behavior has no place, 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 keep 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.
Small, autonomous & cross-functional teams
Agility is the essence of an enduring organisation, and we strive to create an organisation that fosters it. We are not into 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 want to fail fast and try something else. We want to bring a lean mentality to everything we do, regardless of how big we get. Our end goal is to build an anti-fragile, agile organisation that can excel 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-organized and self-motivated.
To balance autonomy we have to equally 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 have what they need to make informed decisions on their own. People must then take ownership of their decisions and must foster such accountability on their team so that we can learn from both our successes and our failures.
This fundamental shift from a hierarchical, top-down approach of control to a bottom-up approach of giving context ties in with our goal of being a continuously learning, continuously adapting organisation. We want to approach every task as a learning opportunity, empowering us to make smarter decisions tomorrow.
Variety of missions guided by one shared vision
SumUp’s vision is a world where small merchants can be successful doing what they love. A vision as broad and multifaceted as that can only be achieved by breaking it down into smaller steps and individual missions. In SumUp’s early years, we focussed 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 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 only way to do that 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: “We Care”, “Team First” and “Founder’s Mentality”.