The Capella Values Series: Accountability

Over the past few months, several of my colleagues have written blog posts about Capella Space’s company values. Today, I’m wrapping up the series with a post about one of my favorite values — Accountability.

Achieving a bold vision: providing access to timely and high-quality Earth observation data

Here’s how we describe accountability: we are all owners, and therefore accountable for our projects. We are all leaders and take responsibility for what we do.

Accountability at Capella means truly realizing the company vision rather than simply “paying it lip service.” The company was founded with the bold mission of creating a better world through the timely observation of our planet. In order to accomplish this, we need to create the most sophisticated space-borne radar satellites in history, manage global supply chains, develop the market’s highest quality SAR imagery, securely bring it back down to Earth, and deliver it to customers in time to make decisions that have significant consequences for our security and prosperity.

To me, accountability also means every member of the Capella team has a sense of duty to deliver on their part of the mission with excellence. It means we should all work with an operational awareness of how our part in the mission impacts our teammates. Our mission to create a better world also means we are accountable to ensure that our products are used to contribute to positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes. That requires traceability of how our products are used to ensure that they cannot be manipulated for unintended use cases that pose ethical dilemmas such as privacy concerns.

Producing high-quality SAR images

As a marketer on the Capella team, I have seen this value manifested every day as we release new imagery into the marketplace. Before we release a SAR image, all relevant stakeholders examine it for quality control, noise reduction, marketing copy, branding elements, and orientation (layover up, shadows down!).

We are all accountable to accurately represent Capella Space’s technology and the capabilities available today. Earth observation is a powerful tool for understanding economic, societal, and environmental patterns, but it is our responsibility to advise the market on what the technology can and cannot do in order to drive long-term partnerships.

Holding yourself accountable to your team

During my own onboarding process, it was clear to me that every team member felt accountable to educate me on SAR technology. As a new employee, I appreciated how everyone went the extra mile to provide a personally tailored Zoom-based SAR 101, which was very helpful in getting me ramped up in my role.

Since I started working at Capella, I have benefitted so much from my teammates’ knowledge. They’ve shared insight on topics ranging from SAR imagery distortions to internal product specs to spacecraft manufacturing protocol. Because of COVID-19, I still have not met some of my teammates in person, but their sense of duty has made the remote onboarding process more effective than most traditional onboardings I have experienced.

In fact, accountability is a part of why I wanted to join the Capella team. Coming from the geospatial analytics industry, I knew that you needed the best possible data to inform the best possible analytics. I was also aware of the SAR Renaissance. It was intuitive for me to look upstream at the first commercial U.S. SAR company. And ultimately, the Capella mindset is what won me over.

In Matthew Syed’s book Black Box Thinking he analyzes how people confront their mistakes to foster a growth mindset. He specifically cites the aerospace industry’s black box that collects data so experts can find out what went wrong and build systems to prevent that mistake from ever happening again. Capella Space interested me because it is a hybrid of the aerospace industry’s black box thinking and the Silicon Valley “move fast” mindset. The result is a company that needs to move fast but has a higher degree of accountability to not “break things” in the process. In order to achieve this level of accountability, it requires a growth mindset, dispassionate objectivity, and a healthy relationship with failure.

This post wraps up our company values series. Check out our blog to read about what my teammates had to say about their favorite values — honesty & integrity, continued growth, community, quality, creativity, and aim high & bold.