Thyme Care’s Engineering Values
This year, Thyme Care rolled out our new company values, which act as a shared north star for everything that we do. These values, which include acting with our members in mind, moving with purpose, and seeking diverse perspectives, are consistent across departments and functions, including Engineering. As an engineering team we decided that we wanted to add an additional layer of values to:
- Codify behaviors that are more specific to our engineering functions
- Align on norms across teams and engineering functions
- Align on the types of behaviors that we would look for in interviews
After quite a few live discussions, a narrowing down process, and some wordsmithing, we narrowed our list to the most meaningful four, highlighted below.
We’re excited to share these externally so that prospective engineers know what kind of team we’ve fostered here and what kind of team they’d be joining.
Balance Delivery Speed With Long Term Stability
By Nick Kastango, Data Scientist
Prototype rapidly; architect for the future; always think about the tradeoffs.
As an early-stage company, Thyme Care is constantly experimenting with the best ways to serve our members. We aim to move with purpose because time is precious and our mission is urgent. Launching an engineering feature one week earlier means it can help transform the experience of a cancer patient at a crucial moment in their care journey.
To make this happen, we prototype rapidly, putting new technologies in the hands of our Care Team for their feedback. This approach has guided the iterative way we have built Thyme Box, our purpose-built care management platform. Engineering, Data, Design, Product, and Operations all collaborate to continuously release new features. We start simple and refine over time, in partnership with the nurses, Care Partners, and clinical leaders who use Thyme Box daily. A core feature that has grown this way is Playbooks, our collection of 100+ (and growing) evidence-based support plans that enable the team to meet each member’s individual needs in the best way possible.
In a similar fashion, we built our new partnership with American Oncology Network on the Enhancing Oncology Model rapidly. We had to build infrastructure quickly and flexibly, even as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services were still releasing details of the brand new program. As of writing, we are three weeks post-launch, and tweaking, refining, and improving every day.
At the same time, we are also continuously architecting for and investing in our future. Three key examples of this include: our design system, codenamed Nashville, which makes it easier and faster for engineers to build intuitive and beautiful interfaces; the autotriggers feature, which enables the operations team to quickly automate workflows with minimal engineering resources; and quarterly tech debt days, which make sure we are always setting aside time to clean up and improve our codebase.
In doing all of this, we can balance delivery speed for our members today with long term stability for our members in the future.
Open and Honest Communication Builds Trust
By Anurag Anjaria, Software Engineer
Build trust internally with teammates by sharing information and inviting feedback; build trust externally with stakeholders and customers by observing their product experience first-hand.
Thyme Care Engineering is a distributed team, with team members located in every time zone of the continental US. We operate within multiple teams and have differing technical disciplines, which makes effective communication essential to our success in driving patient outcomes and a consistent experience. We firmly believe that communication must be open and honest in order to be effective. This can mean telling the whole story and not just parts, or presenting the right information at the right time. For us at Thyme Care, it’s a combination of those things, but most importantly communicating in a way that builds trust between team members and across the organization.
We default to leveraging public (within the company) Slack channels for technical communication, even if slightly uncomfortable. As an example, any time an engineer writes a technical design document (TDD), they share it in a dedicated channel, where it’s available for everyone in the company to review. Anyone on the engineering team is welcome to review the TDD and provide feedback, adjacent engineering teams are able to keep a pulse on projects that may affect them, and anyone can join in the live TDD review if there’s one scheduled.
For cross-functional communication, i.e., outside of the tech team, one of our key touch points is regular user shadowing with the nurses, care partners, and admin assistants who provide guidance and care to Thyme Care members using the applications built by the engineering team. Any engineer can join a shadowing session with the Care Team and observe them using our applications live. This is perhaps the most open and honest way our users can relay their product experience to us, and is incredibly valuable for the engineering team.
Thyme Care Engineering has grown a lot over the past year and things that worked for a team of 5 no longer work for a team 4-5x that size. We’re constantly re-evaluating the way we communicate, and are always willing to try something new or update an existing practice if we find it’s lacking.
Grow As People, Not Just Employees
By Brad Hill Data Scientist
Foster personal development; approach every decision with a people-first mindset; work together to achieve goals, both professional and personal
At Thyme Care, one of our core tenets is acting with our members in mind. The foundation of the company is rooted in a sincere desire to understand and empathize with our members, not just as patients, but as people – people with needs, goals, and dreams. One of the ways we practice this principle on the engineering team is by focusing on growing as people, not just as employees. Just like our members, our team is made up of people with needs, goals, and dreams. We firmly believe that the best outcomes, both for our members and for our employees, occur when we facilitate growth and keep the full person, not just one facet, top of mind when taking action.
Whether through communication channels explicitly created for developing new skills or a bi-annual growth cycle that encourages receiving peer feedback, the opportunities for personal growth within the engineering team are plentiful. Some teams within engineering even hold weekly or monthly meetings to demo exciting new projects, context share, and check in on goals across the team. If there isn't an established avenue for a specific area of growth, you can bet someone on the team has some knowledge on the topic and would be more than willing to share – after all, open and honest communication is another key principle for the engineering team.
This means encouraging teammates to grow in the direction they feel inspired to learn in; our tech leads and managers understand the career directions of our team members and help to angle project assignments to an individual’s interests when possible.
Ultimately, Thyme Care thrives when we see people first, and focusing on personal growth is a natural continuation of that.
Empower Each Other
By Meriah O'Neil Software Engineer
Encourage and amplify the voices of others; foster an inclusive environment; value ideas over titles and problem solving over finger pointing.
We understand that all ships rise with the tide, and if we want to raise that tide and perform at our best, we have to feel comfortable to do so. As such, we know the value of creating an environment that is not only generally positive for the team but also empowering on the individual level. Empowering each other, to us, means emphasizing and seeking diverse perspectives in all phases of development and fostering psychological safety.
One way this takes shape is in the exploratory phase, when we are brainstorming potential solutions to big problems. We host “Shark Tanks” where a group of engineers come to the table and share their insights, and research and discuss findings on a particular topic while debating potential solutions. Shark Tanks are advertised widely across the engineering team, and everyone is encouraged to get involved if they find a given topic interesting. We don't keep front-end engineers from attacking back-end problems, and we don't prevent platform-focused colleagues from providing feedback on a UX issue. In the Shark Tank, anyone and everyone is encouraged to get involved.
In the spirit of teamwork and getting everyone involved, it’s not uncommon to see colleagues offering a helping hand or highlighting a team member's accomplishments in a dedicated Slack channel when they do something cool.
Empowering each other means reflecting on our work without placing blame via incident, project, and sprint-level retrospectives and taking stock of what worked well and what we can do differently going forward. This practice allows us to constantly strive towards making a better, safer, more productive work environment.