TACOS at Qualtrics: A History of Culture
Contrary to popular belief, not everything monumental for Qualtrics starts in a basement. So, it is with a deep sense of irony that a deep dive into the pillars of the Qualtrics culture – affectionately known as the TACOS – reveals a startling truth. When the day came to sit down and understand what made people at Qualtrics the best Qualtricians – the team gathered in a basement.
History of TACOS
Transparent. All In. Customer Obsessed. One Team. Scrappy.
“Instead of saying, “What should our culture be?” Ryan asked us, ‘If we’re going to document our current culture, what would that look like?’,” Kylan Lundeen, Director of Marketing, shared.
It was nearly three years ago that the executive team gathered to address the question: “What describes us?”. Rather than starting from singular words, or aspirational statements, the team started with thinking about the people who were the “most Qualtrics” of everyone at the company. “We asked, ‘Who are the people who are the raddest culture adds at Qualtrics?’ and what is it about them that embodies ‘us’ the most?” said Kylan.
Person after person was highlighted by the group, identifying the characteristics which brought that person to mind. What emerged were the building blocks of Qualtrics culture.
“I think when it was done, and we’d gone, ‘Yeah, that sounds like being ‘All In’’ or ‘That’s definitely Customer Obsessed’, we had something like ACTOS highlighted as the acronym.” In what may be one of the most notorious pieces of Qualtrics Urban Legend, it is believed that earlier in the evening the team had frequented a favorite local restaurant where tacos featured prominently in the meal. “It was actually Chris Beckstead who brought it up, saying that if the letters were moved around it would spell ‘TACOS,’ and it was like – there we go. It was locked.”
|Which of the TACOS is your favorite? All In is what makes 5 For The Fight work. We decided at the company’s founding that we would go all in on one cause: cancer. This focus has led to a foundation and the start of a movement, and the results are millions of dollars for cancer researchers.
Which of the TACOS do you see “lived out” the best at Qualtrics? One Team. 5K For The Fight was started by our 5 For The Fight EMEA team and they really leaned in to make an awesome experience globally! During those 48 hours, it was so special to see how everyone was running and walking all around the world.
What is your favorite kind of taco to eat? Wahoo’s Fish Tacos!!
The Future of TACOS
The TACOS (and tacos) have been bringing the people of Qualtrics together for many years, but the question that is continuously asked of our leaders is how we’ll keep the culture the same. What the Qualtrics team has recognized – and is adamant about – is that being a part of Qualtrics is being part of a growing organization in every way.
“People ask me about culture. I don’t talk about culture. It’s weird to ask me about culture, because culture exists when I’m not around. You all own the culture, so make this continue.” – Ryan Smith
The culture of Qualtrics will continue to develop right along with the business. While we remain grounded in the cultural pillars of the company, we also remember that there are people out there who are more TACOS than we are now. People who are more All-In or Customer Obsessed than we’ve met before. We grow bigger with them, and we grow better because of them. It’s how we remain grounded in the culture of Qualtrics, rather than inhibited by it.
|Which of the TACOS is your favorite? All In. The people I enjoy working with the most just embody “All In.” They love Qualtrics. For them, it’s moved from being just a job to something they believe deeply in. Part of their identity is Qualtrics. When I’m in a tough situation, they’re the ones I can reach out to and the ones who would take time to help if you asked. These people, they’re literally all in. And to me, that means they’re so committed to Qualtrics and helping the entire company be successful that they’re willing to go above and beyond to help any place that’s struggling.
Scrappy is my other favorite – it hasn’t been about doing more with less, but doing more with what you have. And that’s always been how we’ve grown, just with that mentality of “let’s do more.”
Which of the TACOS do you see “lived out” the best at Qualtrics?
What is your favorite kind of taco to eat? Tacos from Tacos Junior near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Qualtricians and the TACOS
The TACOS aren’t just a story of what Qualtrics Leadership has determined the culture to be. Russ Laraway, VP of People Operations, says, “culture is something that lives in every one of us. Great companies carefully define their culture through their core values. Once you do that, you hire people who express those values long before they join your company. This helps ensure that as the company grows, the culture is enhanced, not diluted.”Throughout the year, we seek to understand how these core values resonate with the Qualtricians across the globe – check out some of the results.
|Which of the TACOS is your favorite? My favorite is “one team” because it keeps us focused on our goals rather than who does what. Our team members stay focused on what is needed for us to achieve our mission and that makes it super fun and inclusive since we believe great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone.
Which of the TACOS do you see “lived out” the best at Qualtrics – do you have a favorite example? Customer obsessed! We recently went through our quarterly product prioritization reviews and the customer “whys” were evident in everything we are doing.
What is your favorite kind of taco to eat? I love tacos. My favorites are carne asada street tacos with avocado and hot hot sauce!
The Big Picture
We asked the team – “People at Qualtrics are…
”Over 65% of Qualtricians said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that their peers were described by each of the TACOS. 83% of respondents said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the people around them at Qualtrics were “All In.”Across our teams, we found that 90% of Research Services believe people are “All In” and “Scrappy”. Our newest employees believe their peers are the most “Transparent,” while Qualtricians with more than 5 years feel that people here are “Scrappy” above all the other values.But let’s break this down a little. We took a deep dive into each of the TACOS and exactly what behaviors we’re seeing that demonstrate we’re living out each of the values.
|Which of the TACOS is your favorite? One Team: I thoroughly enjoy working with people across departments and geographies at Qualtrics! Knowing that we are One Team with the same goals has been critical to our success to date and is even more critical to our future.Which of the TACOS do you see “lived out” the best at Qualtrics? Transparency: There are many examples, but I have always enjoyed TGIT. It’s a weekly opportunity for transparent communication with the entire company. Over the years, the transparency has covered everything from whoops moments to detailed financial results.
What is your favorite kind of taco to eat? Steak Street Tacos
For transparency, we’re building a culture where the default is to share with one another. And one where we debate, trust, and make data-influenced decisions.So when 84% of your company says it understands the company strategy, we’re moving the right way. Especially when 82% of Qualtricians say they feel well-informed about important activities at Qualtrics.As we chart our careers, it’s important that we have the support and guidance of our managers. Overall, 83% of people at Qualtrics feel their manager is helpful in navigating how company changes impact their career, and 85% of engineers specifically feel their manager is helping them in those moments. (We hate to brag – but we’ll mention the industry benchmark is 72% normally in these areas.)
|Which of the TACOS is your favorite? Transparent. We share what we are thinking before decisions are baked. That allows for healthy debate among more people with diverse perspectives. Transparency leads to better decisions and fewer unwanted surprises.Which of the TACOS do you see “lived out” the best at Qualtrics? All in. We know we are Qualtrics and we are accountable and valued. Qualtrics values experience so much, every employee is not only encouraged — but financially supported via an experience bonus to live an annual bucket list dream.
What is your favorite kind of taco to eat? Grilled shrimp tacos, flour tortillas with sour cream and guacamole.
All in is a simple concept: we bet on Qualtrics and Qualtrics bets on us. This is our company.94% of Qualtricians say they agree with the statement that they’re willing to put in effort beyond what is expected of them. Beyond that, 87% of Qualtricians agree that they “are proud to work at Qualtrics.” And 86% of the team agrees that they would recommend Qualtrics as a place to work.
|Which of the TACOS is your favorite? I love #OneTeam as I think great teams can achieve truly audacious goals that individuals cannot. We regularly set audacious goals for teams at Qualtrics and support individuals in doing the most epic work of their careers.
Which of the TACOS do you see “lived out” the best at Qualtrics – do you have a favorite example? Customer Obsession is demonstrated daily across the globe as Qualtrics helps our customers execute, deliver, and realize their enterprise-wide XM Vision.
What is your favorite kind of taco to eat? Breakfast tacos in Austin. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
When it comes to being customer obsessed there is only one mantra: If a customer is upset, we failed. Period. We learn, and we fix it.Qualtricians came back to us to say that 87% believe that the executive team is committed to providing high-quality products and services to customers.
|Which of the TACOS is your favorite? One Team: It’s so hard to keep a company focused on what matters – customers, employees, repeat. Many companies get lost in internal conflict, seeing internal teams as rivals and the amount of time wasted with that nonsense is absurd.
Which of the TACOS do you see “lived out” the best at Qualtrics? One Team: I’ve worked at a few companies that *say* they want a one-team approach, but usually that’s all it is – lip service. At the Q, my experience has been that folks are mostly very likely to shed their organizational lines-on-the-page and come together to do something great for our customers or employees
What is your favorite kind of taco to eat?
The idea of one team is a straightforward one. There is only one team at Qualtrics. 70% of Qualtricians responded positively when asked how collaborative as “one team” people at Qualtrics are. And when it comes to inclusivity, 82% said that Qualtrics is positively inclusive, calling out that 82% of people believe that different types of people (i.e. people with different backgrounds, ages, or opinions) collaborate well at this company.
|Which of the TACOS is your favorite?
Transparency. Transparency ensures that everyone understands what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and where we’re going. When we take the opportunity to admit what’s wrong, we enable teams to collaborate and find greater solutions. When things go well, we can celebrate success as a team!What is your favorite kind of taco to eat?
Torchy’s Tacos (Dallas, TX) – Brushfire Taco. Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Grilled Jalapeños, mango, sour cream & cilantro with Diablo sauce on a flour tortilla
Being scrappy means that we’re smart, resourceful, and find a way. We’re quick to call out that it doesn’t mean doing more with less for the sake of things. But scrappy means that we max out what we can do with what we have and won’t give up as barriers present themselves.93% of Qualtricians say that we are very or extremely resourceful at achieving goals with what is available to us.
Qualtrics = TACOS. TACOS = Qualtricians.
We have a strong set of values at Qualtrics. Values that we proactively look to grow and live out. The TACOS are a part of the language in conversations around the business. It’s not shocking to hear a leader thank someone for their transparency, or have someone acknowledge a co-worker as having been “all in” on a project. It is down to each member of our team to continue to “manage” the culture of Qualtrics. We own it and grow it together as a team.
Qualtrics is growing, and if you’re ready to find your “why” at a place like this, you can explore our open opportunities at any time by visiting our career page. Looking to discover the reasons “Why Qualtrics”? You can find a whole series here.