The hx Core Principles


One of the reasons Amrit and Michael founded hx was because we believed that the right small group of hard-working, super-smart people could build a transformative business. In particular, we felt that finding such people (i.e. you!) would allow us to rely on collaboration and honest, transparent communication over process and bureaucracy to get things done. It's one of our motivations for keeping the team as small as possible!

As a result, hx is not a place that relies on a lot of rules. (We aren't a "no rules organisation" either - that's an extreme viewpoint, and another hx principle is to avoid extreme viewpoints unless they really make sense - for example, in our approach to certain behaviours.) Clearly, as we scale, we will need to increase our set of minimal essential processes, but they should be exactly that - minimal, and essential.

Instead, we rely on some clear principles to guide our decisions. These apply across all of hx; it's likely that your function will "extend this framework" in different ways, but what you read here applies in all circumstances. (Please note that this page is not a substitute for our formal, legally mandated processes for sick leave, grievance, discipline, etc. - these are in your contract and/or the Ops Handbook.)

We expect that this section will evolve as hx grows. If you discover anything missing or conflicting here, please help hx get better by reaching out!

The Principles

Be an owner

hx relies on ownership and accountability to get things done over micromanagement and process. If we see that something needs to be done, we get on and do it - we don't need a manual to tell us. That doesn't mean we aren't coordinated, aligned and collaborative - it's just we don't usually need to tell each other how to do something. This means we can focus on what needs to be achieved and trust each other to work in the right way to create the solution.

You will be given a lot of trust and autonomy to do your job here - with that, comes responsibility. This means doing the right thing, which usually isn't the easy thing. At hx this is about more than short-term delivery (although that's very important) - ownership-driven initiative is the foundation of our culture, and has been the key driver of both individual development and business outperformance.

A high-growth business like ours creates more interesting problems than it has capacity to solve at any given point - the most impactful (and therefore successful) hxers have "ripped these problems off the backlog", worked out what needed to be done, and worked with the team to solve them.

Keep your promises

At hx, we rely a lot on trust. You shouldn't need* to chase your teammates, ask them to write things down, or check-in to see if they are on track. In this sense, "trust" means "can rely upon" in addition to "believe to be true". Our baseline level of trust is that our fellow hxers will act with the best interests of hx and our customers at heart, and that they understand the high standards and expectations that we set of ourselves and each other.

In order for this to work however, we need to do what we say we will. When you commit to something to your team, you should do your best to honour that commitment (and if you can't, signal as early as possible). That doesn't mean underpromise and overdeliver - it's about respecting your team, and the complex dependencies between all of our work that's much better managed via trust and commitment than verbose, leaden overarticulation.

This also requires us to be world-class communicators. (You will see this written down a lot, in multiple places. This is no accident!) This isn't really about precise spelling, punctuation and grammar (although those are helpful and important). What's far more critical is clarity and unambiguity of message - when you ask some for something, you make it explicit and easy to understand what needs to be done, by when, and with whom. We are particular about things like agendas, deadlines, and punctuality for a reason - they are key preconditions to efficient, effective communication. Please give them the respect they deserve!

* That doesn't mean we don't do these things - they are often good practice. The point is that the processes don't drive results.

Use the hx flexibility thoughtfully, transparently and with integrity

This section explains our rationale and key considerations around hx flexibility - now we have formally switched to a remote-hybrid approach, more detail on its implementation can be found on the Our Way of Working page.

hx has always been a very flexible place to work. We chose this path long before COVID because we believe it allows dedicated, high-performance people to do their best work while making efficient use of time to find fit and harmony with their personal lives. It also allows us to accommodate each other's (and our clients') needs as our lives, and hx changes. Frankly, it also just makes sense!

However, we've always placed a strong emphasis on honesty and openness in the implementation of "hx flexibility". This usually means:

  • Having a good reason for using it
  • Making a plan to make up any lost time and sticking to it
  • Telling the team (or your manager if it's confidential)
  • Communicating more rather than less if something is ambiguous. Assume positive intent, but minimise the need to assume!

This isn't just about setting a good example - it also lets your teammates plan better, take advantage of times where it's advantageous for multiple people to work in a non-standard way, and most importantly, helps us support each other because we understand each other's circumstances.

It also helps mitigate misinterpretation or misuse, unintentional or otherwise, of hx flexibility. In an increasingly remote world, it's easy for bad habits to form without realising; the focus and energy borne out of the "positive pressure" of a well-structured office environment is something that's hard to replicate remotely (although some are trying). This won't be a problem for many, but it's human nature to let things slip - the key is to realise it and fix it.

We expect you to be thoughtful, disciplined and fair here - use the hx flexibility wherever it makes sense, but never abuse it!

Be practical, and forward-looking in everything you do

hx has grown a lot since we were founded (and that isn't stopping any time soon). As a result, we've made many choices that made sense at the time but don't any more; while this can be challenging, it is testament to how quickly we've developed as a business and team.

It's really important that we don't dwell on this - we can't change the past and it's far more important that we focus our powerful but scarce and precious team resource on the future, and what we need to create/change to get there. It's particularly important, as our natural thoughtfulness can cause us to spin our wheels in debates more than others.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't debate or challenge things we've done, or turn a blind eye to them - instead, really zero in on the lessons to learn (and make sure you write them down!) so we build something even better.

Engage openly, honestly and with an eye to tangible progress

You will see and hear a lot of debate and discussion at hx, and a fair number of open disagreements. This can be uncomfortable at first, but it comes from a position of respect, and it's been one of our superpowers. We are striving to do more of this as we scale, not less! This means you may need to practise/develop the skills of:

  • Giving, and being open to feedback early (less "waiting and seeing")
  • Giving/receiving feedback in public where it makes sense
  • Being direct, but not rude
  • Actively soliciting, and keeping an open mind to challenge and feedback wherever you can

You will notice the two-sided nature of this principle - an environment like ours is much more effective (and also more comfortable) if everyone is primed to receive as well as give challenge.

Sometimes it's not enough just to disagree - we need to disagree and commit. Candidly, this is an area that hx needs to improve upon - passionate, intelligent people often struggle to engage with a viewpoint that differs from their own without significant explanation/convincing. We all know this is neither efficient, nor respectful of the expertise held by our very smart teammates. Knowing when to defer to others and change one's mind is a valuable life skill - help us get better by setting an example!

Don't be stingy, but never be wasteful

hx treats its finances with respect and care, which reflects our bootstrapped roots. The defining aspect of our financial attitude is that we don't spend money on things that don't help the hx team, and therefore hx, level up. We hate waste here - it's a sign of disorder and lack of respect, and far too common in the business world (and unfortunately more so in successful companies like ours). We can only win this battle if every hxer does their bit: frivolous expenses, missing events where we've spent money on reservations, and other things we wouldn't do with our own money are highly frowned upon here.

A corollary of this is that we don't obsess over pinching pennies on purchases that are expensive, but high-leverage. Our attitude to technology, team food and drink, and benefits in general have always been at the generous end of the spectrum - that's a conscious choice and something that we plan to continue. The "return on investment" matters as much as the investment itself, within reason.

Unforgivable offences

We have a zero-tolerance attitude to the following actions/behaviours:

  • Lying or intentionally misleading people
  • Any wilful negligence or lack of attention that compromises our
    • Security
    • Reputation
  • Insulting, threatening or knowingly disrespecting anyone inside or outside hx

Any of these actions is deemed Gross Misconduct at hx and may be punishable by dismissal (under Bad Leaver provisions for permanent team members) at the Board's discretion.

No exceptions can be made here. If you think there is a possibility that you could find yourself in a situation where you could unintentionally breach any of these, please inform your manager or Chief of these, confidentially. We will do our best to help you avoid any situations that could cause you to act in this way.