Our new Prolific Principles

Phelim Bradley



October 2023


December 2021

Our new Prolific Principles

Phelim Bradley



October 2023


December 2021

As a remote-first team, we don't get to see each other in person often. This November, we met in person for the first time in 2 years, and it was a dramatic change from our twelve-person get together at the end of 2020.

In 2021 we doubled in size, bringing the total number of folks (affectionately known as Prolificos) to 73 at time of writing. Our talent and people operations teams work incredibly hard to find amazing people to build Prolific. We care about empowering everyone to do the best work of their lives, in an environment that allows them to be their full selves.

Building an intentional culture has been a priority since the early days of Prolific. And as things have changed a lot this year, we felt it was the right time to review if our values and principles were still serving us. And so I'm proud to share our brand new Prolific Principles with you, and our thought process behind changing them.

Our Principles

🥇We put the quality of the research first

Our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of research, data, and decision-making. Everything we do is centred around our mission to facilitate world-changing research. We’re here to improve the way research is done online, so the quality of the output is always front of mind.

🤝 We build trust

We build trust with each other through responsible actions, honest relationships, and feedback. We build a product that facilitates trust with and between our users. Trust in our data powers, our reputation, and brand. We act with integrity in everything we do and we value the trust our users have in us.

🌍 We celebrate our differences

We care deeply about diversity within our team and on our platform. We embrace our differences and are open to being challenged and receiving feedback because a diverse team feeds different opinions and ideas which we use to make better decisions.

🔍 We are deeply curious about solving problems

Prolific is a complex system, and we're solving problems no one has solved before. This doesn't mean we don't learn from others, but we always aim to get to a first principles understanding. We approach challenges with humility, go deep to understand the problem in its details, and think systematically when solving them.

💪 We are optimistic and find a way

We’re optimistic about the impact of Prolific and our ability to achieve our vision. We can all influence this outcome by being proactive, taking ownership, making fast decisions, and driving progress. There will be many challenges on the path, but there’s always a way forward.

We experiment and iterate fast

We are execution-focused, move with purpose, and look to build momentum. We know that “fast gets good better than good gets fast” so we aim to make progress and make decisions quickly. We have an experimental mindset, which we apply with rigour to make faster decisions, not as a crutch.

Changing our values to principles

The Prolific team at their in-person, end of year meeting

We purposefully redesigned our value statements to become principles: rules or beliefs that govern one's behaviour. Stephen R. Covey wrote about the difference between principles and values in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, saying

"Principles are like lighthouses. They are natural laws that cannot be broken."

He goes on to say, "Principles are not values... Principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have enduring, permanent value. They are fundamental."

We previously worked according to a set of one-word values prefixed by "we are...". Our intention was to critically examine whether these statements were aligned with our cultural aspirations and if not, change them so they resonate deeply, are easy to understand, and are practically applicable day-to-day. The last thing we'd ever want is for these words to live in a metaphorically dusty employee handbook, untouched and unused. They should be integrated with almost everything we do.

Interested in working at Prolific? Take a look at our current Prolific vacancies here.

Our road to change

The photo contains a Zoom screenshot with some of our Prolificos during a team-bonding activity at our Q3 2021 meetup: the company meeting that started our journey to redesigning our company principles.

As much as we can, we want to involve our Prolificos in our decision-making process. We wanted to gather feedback, talk to as many people as possible, and, from a communication standpoint, make sure changes would resonate with the team.

Every quarter, we host an all-company meeting. Often, we involve everyone in a collective, cross-collaborative exercise - which is exactly what we did when we embarked on redesigning our Prolific principles.

We split up the entire company into 12 discussion groups to get feedback about the previous values, and any suggestions for new principles. This photos is a screenshot of our Notion page detailing the exercise and the groups folks were put into for it.

We split up the entire company into 12 discussion groups to get feedback about the previous values, and any suggestions for new principles.

Then we formed a working group with the decision-makers that would create the final set of new principles.

Over a few weeks, we met and debated, documenting our thoughts and feedback, external resources, and any strong ideas we had about what our new principles should be. It was great to see such strong opinions from so many in the team, although it was interesting that that the values that were resonating in the team were not always what I would have assumed.

A screenshot of the working document our Principles working group used to come up with the new principles

It soon became clear there were ideas that absolutely needed to be included. There needed to be principles around innovation, growth, and change, diversity and inclusion, moving fast and experimenting, ownership and accountability, and customer-centricity.  Lastly, we wanted a principle about trust. I think about what the value used to be (We are trustworthy) and what it is now (We build trust) and I'm excited it is now much more action-driven.

We revealed our new Prolific principles at our first annual 'Prolificon': an all-company in-person meet-up we held in London this year. It was amazing to share these with all of our Prolificos in person, and we loved how everyone responded to them. It was a real highlight of the year - I feel incredibly grateful to work with such a great bunch!

What's next for Prolific

As we wind down for 2021 and recharge over the winter holidays, we're still busy integrating our new principles into what we do. We're weaving them into our career pathways (what will be our transparent career progression framework for salary, reward, and recognition), adding them to our feedback tool Lattice, and we will soon be evaluating anyone we interview for roles at Prolific with our new principles.

On a personal note, I stepped into the role of CEO this autumn. I'm excited to approach 2022 with these principles in mind, and look forward to finding new ways to apply them to my work and my life at Prolific. It's been a challenging year, for many reasons, but I'm exceedingly proud of everything we've accomplised and excited about what we'll achieve in the next. Onwards. 🚀

We're hiring! Join us and you’ll be part of a team building a remote working culture that truly works for everyone. Take a look at our current vacancies here.

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