When Brad and I started Dovetail just over five years ago, we didn’t start with a “purpose.” Not in the official sense of the word, anyway. We were two former Atlassian employees who wanted to ditch the organizational chaos of a big company and focus on what we loved—making great products. The only thing you could call a “purpose” was the first long-term company goal we set for ourselves—to build a product with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 100.
When we raised money to scale Dovetail, we never sold investors on a high-level mission or company purpose—we always let the product speak for itself. In our founder interviews, I would tell candidates that my purpose was to come in every day and do work I could be proud of—and I invited them to do the same. We formed values as a company, and we let them guide us internally on how we should do work without worrying too much about why.
In short: we’ve always been about the product and the impact it can have on our customers’ lives. And we still are. But as we scale (we’re nearing the 100 headcount mark), we’re also starting to think about the impact we can have on the wider world.
With a plurality of voices, opinions, talents, and minds joining us at a rapid rate, we felt that we needed a clear and simple constraint that ensures no matter how large we grow or who the constituents of the company are, Dovetail will remain true to its DNA. We need a purpose.
At a leaders retreat around the time of our fifth birthday, Brad and I took a step back from the day-to-day of running a startup to reflect on what we’d achieved, and what more we hoped to accomplish in the coming years. We considered what our purpose might be. We didn’t want marketing fluff—it had to come from an authentic place. Our purpose needed to reflect what we value and the way we did things. After thinking deeply about what we are doing in the world and the impact we have on our customers, we landed on something that resonated.
The world will be a better place if more organizations embrace a customer-centric mindset. Customer-centricity produces higher quality products and services, which often meaningfully improve people’s lives. From the obviously impactful products like a Cochlear implant that helps children and adults hear for the first time through to everyday crowd-pleasers like Canva who delight and inspire their customers to design, the world is shaped by thoughtful innovation.
The path to customer-centricity begins with world-class research—and Dovetail is uniquely positioned to help with this. Through the power of customer research, we help our customers create better products for people to use, better experiences for users to engage with, and better services for the public to rely on. The products we build help organizations understand their customers better. And customer understanding is simply a means to an end—the end is creating better things. So our new company purpose is simply that Dovetail exists to improve the quality of every thing.
When looking at the highest performing teams and organizations around the world, there’s a common theme—a purpose that acts as a non-negotiable constraint. It’s a north star that ensures no matter how an organization might change, it will always remain true to its core principles. In our case, that’s delivering the best products possible for our customers.
We like our purpose because it’s lofty but also actionable, and we strongly believe it will help us serve our customers better. The only way we can achieve the goal of improving the quality of every thing is through **our customers. Only when we support organizations in every sector and industry around the world by equipping them with the best tools for understanding their customers can we deliver on our purpose. Our customers are making the world a better place, and we’ve made it our mission to ensure their success.
Externally, not much will change. We’ll continue to build high-quality products that enable our customers to improve their products and services. However, this new perspective helps us align our efforts internally, ensuring decisions are always moving us closer to our goal of improving the quality of every thing.
Dovetail is a support player—to be successful, we must continue to grow and discover new ways to improve our customers’ lives, so they in turn can improve the lives of their customers. If we’re successful, Dovetail will often be the first thing teams check to get a pulse on their customers when they start their day or to see the latest research through a continuous, personalized stream of customer data and insights. We will help organizations maximize their potential, delight customers, and innovate on quality products and experiences driven by the power of research. Organizations that adopt Dovetail will see a step-change improvement in how they work, how decisions are made, and how things are prioritized. They will be more competitive and commercially successful because we help them create quality things.
Today, our customers use Dovetail to improve the quality of educational material in schools, the experience of prison leavers reintegrating into society, and the usability of popular software products. We have customers across government, technology, consumer products, manufacturing, education, healthcare, art and culture, philanthropy, non-profits, and more. Dovetail exists to help every one of these customers build better things, and if they successfully do that, the impact on the world is massive.
The future is an exciting place—we hope you will join us on our journey. And more importantly, we want you to keep us accountable to our goal. We may not know what Dovetail will look like in five, ten, or fifteen years. But with your help and a dedicated drive towards our purpose, we’re certain we’ll be shaping the world in a positive way.