Our Vision,Mission and Values

Note: This is a revised translation of the original article published in March 2023.

In August 2022, LiLz held a meeting with the goal of putting our company’s vision, mission, and values down on paper. Honestly, we had wanted to do this sooner, but we were spurred on to finally take on the task when two new employees joined the four founding members in working at LiLz. The fact that we were able to discuss not only the company’s fundamental values, but also what attracted our new employees to the company in the first place made it a very worthwhile meeting indeed.

The all-hands meeting held in Okinawa

I’d like to use this blog post to shine a spotlight on the vision and mission we settled on, as well as the values we discussed, and what they really mean.

Our Vision

Harness the Power of Technology to Drive Workplaces One Step Forward.

This one is fairly self-explanatory; however, the focus is really on pushing things forward. The phrasing “one step forward” is something we all value a great deal. The company’s founding members all shared the same goal of wanting to help people right now through technology. That’s not to say working on revolutionary tech that could make a difference decades from now isn’t one way of contributing to society—it’s just that we wanted to focus on solving people’s problems right away. This shared value wasn’t something we had expressed verbally back when LiLz came into being, but it soon became clear that we all had it when we began developing products. I’m a big fan of the proverb “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and that’s why I wanted to include “one step forward” in our vision. I think it helps get across that we want to help workplaces take a step in the right direction. I’ve written about this in a different post, but my father is a 75-year-old electrician. Seeing him head off to work day after day in his boiler suit made me want to contribute to the happiness of professionals all over the world.

Our Mission

LiLz aims to make fieldwork maintenance easier through a fusion of IoT and machine learning.

We had already put our mission, designed to help bring about our vision, down on paper, but I’d like to take this chance to explain how it came to be.

The two big technological trends when it comes to predictive maintenance of facilities and equipment are the use of AI (machine learning) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Our mission statement boils down to combining these two to help improve the lives of professionals. This may sound like something you’ve heard a thousand times, but it really does sum up how we feel. Now, I’d like to delve a bit more into these two terms; when LiLz was founded in 2017, “AI” had a much looser definition, and wasn’t really something you could include in a mission statement. However, the rise of ChatGPT has led to AI becoming a term heard much more frequently, and something people feel they understand. We went with “machine learning” instead of “AI” because the latter felt too vague at the time we started out. The phrase “a fusion of IoT and machine learning” can also be interpreted as referring to the marriage of software and hardware; essentially, the distinction between the two matters little when it comes to meeting your clients’ needs. We don’t believe in only focusing on software, whilst using generic hardware, and letting that define the user experience. Obviously, in cases where standard hardware can solve an issue, then it’s perfectly logical to focus solely on the software side of things. Our belief is that—as we are focused on providing solutions for environments where generic hardware often can’t be used—we need to create a software-focused user experience, which we can then supplement by creating hardware if necessary. Ultimately, that’s going to provide the best experience for the end user.

Now, I’d like to shift gears to focus on the “to make fieldwork maintenance easier” part of the mission. This statement has been around since we were established in 2017, but it’s a phrase we’re very passionate about. This is because all we need to do to know if our services have helped working professionals is ask those who use them. We all work knowing that it doesn’t matter how great the technological solutions we provide are if they don’t make things easier for the end users. That’s one reason why the word “function” rarely comes up in our team’s conversations—we use terms like “value” and “ease of use” much more often.

Our Value

Independent Professionals

  • Respect Each Another’s Approaches

  • Be Output-oriented

  • Value Curiosity and Breaks

Communicate Respectfully

  • Be Honest

  • Embrace Failure and Mistakes

  • Respect Differing Opinions

Products Designed to Impress

  • Focus on Defining the Problem

  • Passion for Detail

  • Exceed Expectations

We also went over all our values together, and this blog post is the first time I’ve discussed them publicly. I look forward to seeing how they change over time as we welcome new people into the fold in the future.

Independent Professionals

This value is designed to keep us aware that we’re all professionals at what we do. For many the word “pro” might first bring to mind professional athletes, but we’re all pros in our own field just as they are in theirs.

Respect Each Another’s Approaches
Continuing the sports analogy, most professional athletes have their own playing styles. I think this is something that really must be respected; in any organization you’re going to encounter people who have radically different approaches to you. Some might prefer to note things down by hand, before making their own documentation; others might favor first discussing topics out loud before later thinking through things on their own; some will just dive headfirst into the challenge and correct any mistakes they make as they go. I believe all these different styles deserve respect. The key thing is to avoid pigeonholing yourself and keep an eye on how others do things while developing your own individual approach.

Be Output-oriented
Now, different approaches certainly deserve to be respected, but ultimately you need to strike a balance between that and your output. We have an environment here that allows us to get honest feedback on what we produce. I’ve always liked the phrase “the devil is in the details,” and as such I often have my colleagues check documents I write. Having them point out little mistakes, incorrect punctuation, and words being misused helps to polish the final document and make it much more refined and easy-to-parse. I honestly think all professionals need to focus on their output.

Value Curiosity and Breaks
Start-ups need to provide both quality and quantity, but I believe that focusing on the latter is going to lead to the business plateauing very quickly. I hope to make our business grow, and in doing so prove that I’m right in my beliefs. However, I can’t overstress the value of curiosity and taking breaks when it comes to the pursuit of quality. Ever since LiLz was founded we’ve followed the 20% rule. Now, I’m aware opinion on this particular theory is divided. I want to explain someday exactly why we believe in it in another post, but the important thing to know now is that we don’t only have this rule down in writing; it’s become a core part of the team’s culture of learning.

There’s an interesting phenomenon that I think most people have experienced at least once: no matter how busy you happen to be, you suddenly stumble upon the solution to something that was troubling you while you are staring off into space. All of us at LiLz have always gone on walks whenever we couldn’t figure something out. My co-founder, Otsuka, would often mention that walking does actually help to get the blood flowing up from your legs, which has a positive effect on your brain. When we first started out we’d often discuss work while on walks. I truly think that encouraging an atmosphere that allows for these kinds of breaks is vital. Going back to the sports analogy, I suppose it’s a bit like how athletes condition their bodies. That’s the kind of thing that a pro’s going to pay attention to after all.

Communicate Respectfully

This one may seem like a given, but it’s surprisingly hard to put into practice, so that’s why we chose it as one of our values.

Be Honest
It’s incredibly important in the day-to-day running of an operation for everyone involved to be honest with each other. If you said that you thought one thing yesterday, but now believe another as you were wrong, you have to be able to say so.

Embrace Failure and Mistakes
This connects to the previous value as well, but we firmly believe that failure and mistakes should be welcomed with open arms. Start-ups especially are liable to make all kinds of mistakes when they first get going, but ultimately the fact you messed up isn’t important, it’s how you respond to said setback that matters. Personally, I think the key here is to focus on the response instead of putting down whoever made the error. For example, whenever something goes wrong, and we work out what caused it, I make a point of stressing that I’m glad we found the cause. Welcoming mistakes doesn’t mean that we encourage them. It’s simply a fact that any operation working at a certain pace is going to encounter bumps in the road from time to time, and trying to avoid errors at all costs would likely lead to other issues rearing their heads down the line. Mistakes are going to occur, and as long as they don’t threaten your operation’s existence, they are just a sign that things are progressing normally; that’s what we mean when we say we embrace them.

Respect Differing Opinions
This may be the trickiest of all our values. The reason differing opinions exist in the first place is due to everyone having their own unique educational backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. These factors combine to produce opposing opinions, which makes sense, but it’s when someone feels they are especially experienced and professional that they gain an almost unshakable belief in their opinions, which can make it hard to accept those of others.

In situations like these the phrase “two heads are better than one” comes to mind. Often, ideas you came up with alone can almost always be enhanced by talking to someone else. I personally experience this all the time. That’s why I frequently share my thoughts with those I know will have contrasting views because this eventually improves the final product. Actively seeking out differing opinions is also a big part of this specific value.

This strays from the topic slightly, but I personally don’t believe in debating such issues in large groups. I always make a point of discussing things with one or two others before summarizing our thoughts and then sharing them with the larger group.

Products Designed to Impress

At the end of the day, LiLz’ strength lies in its products; we’re all aware that creating high-quality products matters more than anything else. This is due to our belief that products which exceed expectations will help make things easier for working people.

Focus on Defining the Problem
My co-founder, and researcher, Otsuka asked me what issues I wanted to solve countless times when LiLz first started out. It might well have been a hundred times… You may well be familiar with this already, but the issue of elevators which never seem to come is always brought up when discussing how important defining problems is. It’s all about focusing on the heart of the problem—which is what led to us creating the LiLz Gauge service in the first place.

Co-founder and CTO Kuba often asks where the value is in any given user experience we’re considering creating. Customers will accept a product if the issue it’s designed to solve is clearly defined and the product actually solves it. We chose this as one of our values because it’s something we never want to compromise on, and it’s vitally important that anyone who joins our team understands that. LiLz’ corporate culture is based on first defining the problem before setting about trying to fix it.

Passion for Detail
This is somewhat similar to being output-oriented, and it also comes back to the devil being in the details. Focusing on the small things is going to result in the most polished user experience possible, which helps to realize our goal of improving people’s working environments. Objectively, some may think there’s no need to debate things to the extent that we often do, but it is our belief that this is the secret to maintaining our team in the long run. That’s why we favor this approach.

Exceed Expectations
Finally, the question of whether or not you’ve exceeded expectations. We firmly believe that if we develop products in line with our values, they will meet people’s expectations and then some. In short, refusing to compromise leads to the best product. That said, it ultimately comes down to whether it exceeded the client’s expectations or not.

The founding members (the four on the left) considering LiLz’ values with our two new colleagues

All six of us realized when coming up with these values that we think surprisingly similarly. We were able to put our shared beliefs into words, and that led to me being able to explain them in detail on this blog for the first time as well. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to someday welcome new colleagues who also share these values. If you feel like that may be you, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!