• Srishti Agrawal

TIE - Living the values at Cerebranium

Updated: Apr 10



Why is TIE important and how do we incorporate it at Cerebranium?

“The world has become a global village.” We have been hearing this for almost a decade now. These challenging times have reinforced this platitude in the strongest possible manner.

Empathy:

To think of, human beings are nothing but a mix of various emotions, Empathy being the strongest of them. Oxford Languages defines empathy as “the ability to imagine how another person is feeling and so understand his/her mood.” It is a feeling of oneness, to connect with someone, to understand one’s perspective and feelings. A feeling which shares an understanding of one’s emotions and undergoing the same. Empathy thereby creates an instant bond between the individuals, which we believe, must be the foundation on which every innovation or problem-solving must be based.


We at Cerebranium, experience empathy every day, in all aspects of our operations. We understand the needs of our clients, feel associated with them, experience them and apply our expertise in arriving at solutions that will make lives better for all. While building our AI-based online assessment and proctoring platform Promexa, one of our clients (let’s call it University A), wanted an exclusive feature, wherein a student would not only be evaluated on the basis of the final answer entered or chosen but also on the way he/she understood, evaluated and solved a problem, which cannot be gauged otherwise, in an MCQ based examination. To understand their problem, the team had elaborate insightful discussions with the faculty and after brainstorming sessions, came up with the best possible solution in the optimal amount of time. The team introduced the “Subjective response and Image Upload” feature, wherein a student can choose to upload images showing the working of a particular problem or the reason for choosing a particular answer. This enabled the professors to get an insight into the student's thought process and mark them accordingly. This feature also enables University A to understand and analyze where a student is likely to go wrong and thus work on strengthening their strengths and weakening their weaknesses.


We also believe that practicing empathy at the workplace is as important as practicing it with clients. Empathy generates interest and appreciation for fellow workers, paving the way to more productive working relationships. Though we are a lean team of 20 productive people, we ensure that even the recruitment processes are carried out in a compassionate and empathetic manner. We might only offer a job to a few capable candidates amongst the hundred potential applicants but we do focus on giving them a valuable and good experience even in rejection.


Recently, we had a few openings in the Sales and Marketing team for which a job opening was posted on LinkedIn. We received over 70+ applicants within a week for the same. After two rounds of filtering and shortlisting the candidates on the basis of their resumes, our team narrowed down to about 10 applicants, who were then invited for an online interview, after discussing a suitable date and time for the same. Appearing for interviews and preparing for them is a lot of time and effort, and can potentially be stressful for many. Moreover, facing rejection over and above all of this can be heartbreaking.


We made sure that a follow-up mail was sent to all applicants thanking them for their time and notifying them about their selection or rejection and conveying the message that there is always a next time and that we are keen to speak to them again whenever a suitable role is available for them.


Transparency:

Empathy when backed by innovation, with transparency at every stage, leads to products with core values and powerful delivery mechanisms. The importance of transparency becomes more apparent as it fosters a workplace culture of open communication and accountable behavior. Clarity of communication is one of the most important hallmarks of transparency, making it an important aspect of all our functions.


Good communication conveys the most relevant information, with the most amount of clarity, to the most relevant people, in the most timely manner. Especially, for a distributed remote team like Cerebranium, which is working in 3 different time zones, practicing transparency and clarity of communication is of utmost importance for efficient functioning.


It is crucial for us to be good note takers and establish a good context while communicating asynchronously (via text messages as opposed to via calls). Research suggests that people need about 30-60 minutes to get into the ‘Flow State’ or the ‘Working Zone’. Every time they are required to switch context (think phone calls/meetings), even if it is for 5 minutes, they have effectively lost up to an hour of time due to the 30-60 minutes that they will spend to get back into the Flow State. Therefore, in general, we prefer asynchronous communication channels (Slack, comments, email) first and consider using synchronous channels (calls, meetings) only if the asynchronous channels aren’t enough to find a resolution.


Transparency leads us to surface problems and own solutions to them as well, which thereby leads to extreme accountability and trust amongst us. Our engineering team is majorly divided into two sub-teams, a client-facing (frontend team) and a non-client facing team (backend team). These two verticals of the Engineering team communicate within their sub-team as well as in the group. Every engineering task is segregated into frontend or backend tasks and work is distributed internally within the team and a request-response channel is created. Considering the different nature of tasks, separate timelines are created and adhered to by each subteam. The teams are thus enabled to be more understanding towards each other and be aware of the position and status of tasks being carried out. A mobile frontend can be ten times more challenging than a web-based frontend as mobile applications need explicit releases, thereby taking a longer amount of time to be delivered as compared to a backend functionality. It is therefore challenging to build user empathetic mobile applications and thus both the sub-teams work in synergy to enable a bug-free and enhanced mobile-app experience for the users.


We value clarity of communication, interpersonally between people and inter-operationally between our systems.


Innovation:

Technology is at the core of all our operations as we use technology to power our business and revolutionize the way education is imparted. We use innovation as a technological and strategic tool to develop agile innovation culture and effective business processes.


We carry out extensive research in both, the management (to understand the difficulties faced by and needs of our clients) as well as the engineering side, as we believe that a deeper understanding of the domain helps in solving a problem better. At Cerebranium, we have dedicated weeks for research. In a research week, no major development work is carried out and the major focus is on exploring technological solutions to existing and potential problem statements. Learning about new technologies, cloud service providers, cloud services and their features, etc., help us learn on the go and upgrade our current technology for efficient and smarter solutions. This one week of extensive research not only helps in giving a direction to our work but also to understand how we can address our problems better, optimize our solution and code, and thus accelerate the development process.


All our solutions are aimed at achieving simplicity in complexity using cutting-edge technology. However, we believe that technology that does not solve a problem might as well not exist, and thus, we effectively use cutting-edge technology, only when it solves a real problem.


At Cerebranium, we are driven by the above-mentioned principles - our triad of values. We live and breathe by our TIE (Transparency, Innovation, Empathy) principles, in all our operations. There is no relative priority between these three values, they often manifest in pairs or triads in different scenarios. Together, they help us by being tie-breakers when difficult decisions need to be made.

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