Guiding Principles at SoundRocket: A Self-Assessment

by | May 22, 2016 | Social Science Business

Most people and organizations have self-assessed at some point.  By using a formal inventory or just simply a chat with a trusted customer or friend – we are driven to search for who we are. Some may have a mission statement or a set of guiding principles by which they do business, but it’s much more likely they have not delved so deep.  Still,  organizations that carry product self-assess whenever they perform inventory – learning what they have on hand, and possibly clearing out unsalable goods.

To some this process comes easier than others.  While I have often self-assessed, I have generally been shy about sharing those results.  What good does that do?  I sometimes question my motives when I do not share what I learn.

In the past nearly 12 years now, I have had a lot of opportunities to evaluate the organization that we know today as SoundRocket.  This small business has a certain character to it.  As a small business owner & entrepreneur, I have found that this character is often intermingled with my own – the good and the bad. We needed a set of guiding principles.

Over the past couple of years, through this process of inventorying what it is that we do as an organization, I have narrowed in on several guiding principles – which I present here as SoundRocket’s Guiding Principles.  Every single one of our guiding principles has emerged from a lesson we have learned – and I am certain that these principles will evolve as we coninue to learn.

These guiding principles lead us today, but because we are human, we are not perfect in their application.  They are a guide to practice.  As we do in the scientific method, we continue the cycle of learning and remain open to evaluating our practice, as well as the principles themselves.

I would love to hear your feedback on these guiding principles – send me your thoughts at!

I hope to have an opportunity to elaborate on each of these further in future posts.


Our individual well-being depends upon unity within our workplace and with our collaborators. We believe value is added through unification of experience, expertise, perspective, and resources. 

Authority Comes in Groups

Individuals stand alone – while groups, collaborating in unity towards a common purpose, have ultimate authority at SoundRocket.

Be Inclusive

We practice inclusivity in everything we do.  We build rooms and doors, not walls.

Autonomy Through Collaboration

Autonomy drives collective science – and should never be allowed to keep anyone from the same pursuit.  Where one group collides with another, we practice unity towards a larger common purpose of both.

Our Purpose is Our Only Purpose

We are guided always by a primary purpose – to propel social science forward for the greater good.  We structure our work around our purpose.

Maintain Unbiased Objectivity

We remain unbiased research professionals and do not endorse, finance, or lend our name to outside organizations, political causes, social movements, or other efforts outside of our primary purpose.

Financial Objectivity

We will not restrict an open and free application of the scientific method by accepting support from anyone who requires anything less.

Support the Experts

Our collaborators are the experts.  We support the experts.

Organize to Our Purpose

Our organization is tied to our purpose.  We abhor bureaucracy without evidence-based rationale.  We engage the scientific method in everything we do.

We Have No Opinions on Outside Issues

We do not engage in exchange of opinions outside of our primary purpose.  

Attraction, Not Promotion

We earn our authority and success through action.  We let our collaborators be our voice.


Our work requires collaborations and are never the result of our individual successes. We succeed quietly.  We become the invisible but steady foundation for our collaborators. 

Currently, the FDA only regulates true direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests, which have no health care provider involved either before or after testing. Consumer-initiated, physician-mediated genetic tests are considered lab developed tests (LDTs), which currently do not require FDA oversight. 


Our Study Design

Our study was designed to simulate the experience of an everyday person who is considering doing a health-related genetic test. For this reason, we only reviewed website contents presented to a consumer before ordering a test. By limiting our data collection to pre-test content, instead of digging around or contacting the companies to fill in missing data points, gaps in public-facing information that consumers use to make ‘informed’ decisions were revealed.  

Also, while a genetic counselor supervised the project, a research assistant (RA) conducted most of the website investigations. The RA was familiar enough with genetics and genetic testing to understand and identify the information presented on the websites, but has not had the clinical exposure that might create bias from knowing how specific tests work “behind-the-scenes”. 


To Sum Up

We set out to understand the landscape of health-related consumer genomics testing from the public perspective. By limiting our research (by design) to public-facing pre-test website content, we could not complete our data collection as set out in the protocol. However, this uncovered an important observation: consumer genomics websites are highly variable in content, readability and ease of use. 

This begs the question, if we can’t find basic test information on a consumer genomics website, how does a consumer have enough information to make an informed choice about testing? 

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series, where we will dig into our study findings and reveal our most interesting observations.  



As experts in FDA user comprehension studies for consumer genomics companies seeking 510(k) clearance, we are interested in how everyday people access and understand health content that is meant for them. If you need help optimizing your consumer-directed health communications, we’ve got the in-house expertise and experience to meet your needs. Let’s chat

About the Author

Scott D. Crawford

Scott D. Crawford is the Founder and Chief Vision Officer at SoundRocket. He is also often found practicing being a husband, father, entrepreneur, forever-learner, survey methodologist, science writer & advocate, and podcast lover. While he doesn’t believe in reincarnation, he’s certain he was a Great Dane (of the canine type) in a previous life.