Niels Pflaeging, a globally respected expert in leadership and organizational change, has defined culture as a structure that you can only observe and not change. “Culture is like a shadow. You cannot change it, but it changes all the time“.
From this perspective, we realize that organizational culture is not shaped by written texts, company happy-hour events, or motivational speeches but rather by the behaviors and understandings of every employee. It changes with every person who joins the company, shifts direction with every crisis, and evolves through every step taken and discussed. As long as you allow toxic, poisonous structures, it rusts, decays, and disappears into the pages of history with permanent damage if left unattended.
At Craftgate, since our very first day, we have wished everyone a happy and peaceful working life. To create a healthy corporate culture, we have made great efforts to select our team members carefully.
Hakan Erdoğan, one of the founding partners of Craftgate and our company’s CEO, emphasizes the importance of the team’s formation, explaining the Craftgate approach as follows: “If the knives in the kitchen are sharp, every type of meal can be prepared easily with pleasure. If you ask for a single piece of advice to startups, I would say work with the best possible team. The skills within the team make a company, without those skills, a company is just an empty label. If this is a team game, which it is, and you’re aiming to move up from the amateur league to the premier league, you’ll need talented players at every stage to elevate you..” 
To summarize the fundamentals of Craftgate’s organizational culture, its values, and how we develop product, it can be said:
- At Craftgate, we are all Crafters and don’t have any seniority levels in job titles (junior, senior, expert, principal, etc.). We love our profession and believe that we are on a journey. Regardless of experience, our expectations from all Crafters are the same. Of course, knowledge and experience will be different for everyone. However, expectations like attention to detail, responsibility, transparency, honesty, and humility are common. 
- There is no team leader position at Craftgate. Every crafter is a natural leader and can guide the team regardless of their career background and work experience.
- We actively practice “pair” and “mob” programming. Therefore, all Crafters are expected to be skilled in collaboration and teamwork.
- We do our work meticulously. Meticulousness is one of the most essential components of our team’s DNA. We strive to execute each step diligently throughout the product development stages. We deploy completed tasks to the live system for the customer’s use, and we rarely feel the need to go back and make corrections because we aim to get everything right the first time.
- We pay attention to details. Details demonstrate quality, and customer satisfaction always requires quality. We regularly evaluate our processes, technology, and communication. We hold internal retrospective meetings where we discuss and determine actions. We follow up on our efforts and strive to improve in every area.
- We only commit to a deadline if we analyze it thoroughly as a team. We aim to continuously evolve our product to establish a modular and simple structure that allows us to complete tasks quickly. This way, we save time making effort estimates.
- We provide fast support from a competent team. We all monitor support-requested emails as a team. The Crafters in charge of that week are selected from among the product developers and promptly review support requests as they come. The entire team can quickly come together and conduct in-depth research if necessary. Our responses to support requests are always detailed and solution-oriented.
- One of the keys to the success of a product is collaboration within the team. Anyone with a question, needing help, or looking for advice can write on the team’s Slack channel. A response or assistance message will quickly come from one or more available people.
- Regardless of their importance level, all errors that occur in the system are carefully examined. Existed errors are detected from various channels and are collectively interpreted by the team. Payment is an area that doesn’t tolerate errors. So, to minimize mistakes, efficient processes need to be established.
- Being a product team requires all roles related to that product to be on the same team. That’s why everyone, from developers to testing experts, salespeople to marketers, comes together for half an hour daily to plan their day. Everyone can share their ideas in every area, and anyone who wishes can work in different areas. The team carries out whatever is required for the product’s success.
- We have been working remotely since March 2020 and love remote work. We plan to continue working remotely with the engineering team forever. Not all Crafters live in Istanbul. We have team members from Ankara or working with their caravans from anywhere in the country. We have a well-designed and peaceful office in a very central location. It is always available if someone gets tired of working from home.
- We believe in transparency and trust in communication. We share updates transparently within the team about all aspects of the product, including sales, marketing, software, and support.
- We don’t concern ourselves with how much each person works. As a team, we track the status of our tasks and evaluate them from all perspectives daily to ensure that everyone’s needs are met adequately.
- The better the team members, the better the product. The product develops and takes shape with the efforts of each member. If even one person is not good in their field, the resulting solution will be ordinary. That’s why we provide all kinds of support for personal development.
- The more we share knowledge, the more it grows and deepens as we explain it to others. Therefore, throughout the year, we organize various internal events. Therefore, we create various opportunities to delve deep into what we know, from internal seminars to architectural brainstorming sessions, from “lightning talk” days to “unconference” events.
- A successful solution that can address customers’ problems can only be developed by experts in the field. That’s why we closely follow the industry, delve into every aspect of payments, and strive to enhance our expertise. This way, we are one of the first teams to come to mind when discussing payment in Turkey.
- We believe in work-life balance. We all need time to spend with our families and live our lives. This way, we can refresh ourselves and bring more straightforward approaches to our product.
- We don’t follow Scrum, Kanban, or XP rules. We know our team very well and focus on what the team needs. We are not followers or fanatics of any framework or principle. We follow our own “Craftgate Model.” In this approach, based on the Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement, we discuss our problems as a team and take only the steps to lead to solutions. We don’t implement something just because it’s written somewhere. We know our team very well. We identify what is needed as a team and implement it.
- Untested development is incompleted development. In our development processes, we operate testing procedures in many layers from end to end, from detail to general. We write tests until the developer feels confident to deploy their development to the live system. Our test experts conduct error discovery activities in the system and catch any overlooked errors.
- We write code for ourselves and those who will come after us. We’ve been brainstorming for a long time to manage complexity in software. For years, we’ve been trying to prevent contamination of domain code by separating it with hexagonal architecture from technology-dependent integration code.
Our journey towards better and simpler will continue, and our culture will evolve and grow.
With the hope of sharing our new steps with you as well!
- Niels Pflaeging’s Twitter post, March 2015 https://twitter.com/NielsPflaeging/status/580955646415245312?s=20&t=lZwms6DN4Px423fJGDuDjw
- Hakan Erdoğan FintechTime interview, August 2022 https://fintechtime.com/tr/2022/08/craftgate-ile-operasyonel-problemleri-bitiriyoruz/
- Craftgate recruitment details, Craftgate’s recruitment repo on Github https://github.com/craftgate/recruitment