Happiness at work at Atlassian

This is how Australian software company Atlassian present their values on their web site’s about page:

Open company, no bullshit

Atlassian embraces transparency wherever at all practical, and sometimes where impractical. All information, both internal and external, is public by default. We are not afraid of being honest with ourselves, our staff and our customers.

Build with heart and balance

Everyday we try to build products that are useful and that people lust after. Building with heart means really caring about what we’re making and doing — it’s a mission, not just a job. When we build with balance we take into account how initiatives and decisions will affect our colleagues, our customers and our stakeholders.


Don’t #@!% the customer

When we make internal decisions we ask ourselves “how will this affect our customers?” If the answer is that it would ‘screw’ them, or make life more difficult, then we need to find a better way. We want the customer to respect us in the morning.

Play, as a team

We want all Atlassians to feel like they work with Atlassian, not for Atlassian. We think it’s important to have fun with your workmates while working and contributing to the Atlassian team.


Be the change you seek

We think Gandhi had it pretty right when he said “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world”.
At Atlassian we encourage everyone to create positive change — we’re constantly looking for ways to improve our company, our products and our environment.

Not only are these some good values to have, they’re also presented in a way that is fun, irreverent and different. I love that number one is “No bullshit” and I love the little icons that support the message.

Your take

What do you think of Atlassian’s values? Does your company have values? Do you know’em? Does anyone? Do you live by them? Do they inspire you in any way? Write a comment, I’d like to know

9 thoughts on “Happiness at work at Atlassian”

  1. I really like to see values that are written in the way people think rather than in the typical corporate non offensive English. Atlassian’s fit the bill. They give the company a personality as something different from the norm. I would be excited to be part of a company that thinks this way, hopefully they act this way too.

    That said, I was disappointed at the end. Increasingly I am getting fed up with seeing Gandhi or any other similar personality invoked when it comes to vision and values.

    Yes what he says might have some resonance but I find this is increasingly over done (how many motivational posters/campaigns have said the same?).

    Gandhi’s struggle to create an independent Indian state cannot be remotely compared to any set of corporate values. One truly is life changing – the vast majority of jobs, however important we want to make them, wither in comparison.

    So in the same way as I was really feeling positive about Atlassian’s values I felt the way the last one was written took away that sense of individualism and reintroduced corporate-speak.

    My suggestion – ban Gandhi and the like from all corporate statements in the future.

    Am I alone in thinking this?

  2. We actually went over our team values today at sprint review:

    We currently have 4 general vague values:
    – Quality
    – Feature delivery
    – People
    – Innovation

    One observation is that Quality and Feature delivery are in conflict.

    We’re going to try mention one aspect of each of these values that means something personally each stand-up to dispel the vagueness and deepen the meaning and understanding of the concepts.

    e.g. I value having good tests (Quality)

    An interesting thought is that values generally come with emotions or emotional states. This allows us to dispense with the vague word ‘value’.

    e.g. I [feel safe] having good tests. (Quality)
    I [enjoy] writing creative code. (Feature Delivery)

  3. Another good post about another great company. It is really refreshing to see that companies are beginning to take these things seriously. For years, companies have talked about improving “the image” or “the brand” but lately it seems like companies are finally doing something real about it. Addressing values and core principles and then taking steps to ensure that every thing and every one involved is aligned with that mission = success.



  4. I work for Atlassian. The Gandhi quote was a hard one for us to alter and still make it pithy and meaningful. It embodied so much of what we believe about our organization — if you believe in something and want something done, just do it (egad, there’s a Nike quote!). We wanted people to cut through any bureaucracy and make something happen without waiting for a committee to approve it. And while we tried to rephrase it, it was a phrase that took hold.

    We’re not fighting colonialism, we’re not creating a great social movement that will be emulated for decades, but we do want people that work here to feel empowered to change the organization and company culture to reflect their values. Apologies to Gandhi!


  5. Howard, I can see how Atlassian could comes off as rather trite for using Gandhi quotes. Truth is people in the company absolutely love that value, I would say the majority of staff cite it as their favourite of all the values. Jon’s right, it just was the most direct wording we could come up with.

    In the spirit of ‘Open Company, no bullshit’, I’ve posted reply on our company blog that describes how we came up with the values. Read here.

    (ps. the Nike catchphrase “Just do it” came from murderer Gary Gilmore’s statement “Let’s do it” to the firing squad that executed him! Video.

  6. Hi Alex from Canada. I enjoyed your post on “happy companies”. I believe within each of us is a deep passion for doing something very unique and special with our lives. But what would a company filled with passion like this look like? Imagine a hundred people awakened to who they are and what they’re passionate about. Each person’s passion is for doing something different. Now imagine these people all assembled in one place, to apply their diverse skills to building something. People passionate about hands-on work, accounting, selling, designing and so on would work together with a shared aim. What an organization that would be! It might look just like millions of companies across North America. But there would be a difference. Each person in THIS company would know for sure they’d been put on earth to do what they were doing. The flame of passion would burn brightly. And here’s something CEO’s might want to think about. How about asking your people if they honestly believe what they’re doing is their Mission in Life. If you get a whole lot of “yes…for sure” back, you belong with the stars.

  7. I love these. Over at Corporate Idealist, I’ve covered the values of various companies by interviewing the leaders, but it’s refreshing to see the company web site lay them out so plainly.

    Great blog, btw. Just happened across it thanks to a random link on Twitter. I’m always excited when I find someone else blogging about work and happiness. :)

  8. A company’s values are most effective if they’re genuine. It’s easy to talk the talk but not so easy to walk the walk.
    Often enough values are set by management, sometimes with a consultant, and have little or no relevance for the staff. To be effective you need staff buy-in, to get buy-in you need participation.
    With participation, you get expressions that are relevant to the staff/users, and not high-brow management consultant speak, which is confusing, even to those who study it.
    For innovation to come from the edges and to get engaged and empowered staff, then management needs to let go (set free) some of their control, and become a Bazaar rather than a Cathedral.
    What would be interesting is to talk to the staff about the values, rather than the leaders.

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