Why We Killed Our Values
What Made Us Resort To Murder?
I am a values nerd. So how did we get to the point of needing to kill our values?
I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. As an audible junkie I soak up books every day while I train or commute.
If there’s an awesome book on company culture, I’ve read it or am about to. And I expect at least one valuable gem of wisdom from every book.
When I stumbled on The Rack We Built: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Creating Company Culture by Lorenzo Gomez I simply had to read it. I know of the famed brand Rackspace and was intensely curious about the story. How good is the title?!
There is a lot to like about the book and I recommend you read it. The gem I am going to focus on here identified the problem with our values.
We had too many values for our people to learn, love and live fully. So we had to kill them.
Where We Went Wrong
So your company has values. But could you or your team say what they are by heart?
When we reflected honestly on this question, our team couldn’t. Heck, even I would fumble on a couple of them.
It’s common to have “done values” the wrong way, we see it all the time. Single, general words that have no context. How can your team possibly know what they mean in action?
But even when doing them the right way, it’s possible to commit to way too many values for the team to live and breathe. That’s what we did.
After introducing a new, relevant value, with each recent annual review, we ended up with too many. Yep, we stuffed up. Eight is way more than enough.
How To Do Values The Right Way
Let’s quickly explore the right way to create company values. The steps are pretty simple:
- Decide – As a team, choose 3-5 values to focus on (we strongly advocate 3!)
- Define – Get very clear on what they look and feel like being lived.
- Ritualise – Integrate them into your existing daily, weekly and monthly agendas.
- Celebrate – Shine a light on when they are modeled well.
- Evolve – Annually revisit the process and update as needed.
It’s all about clarity and context for your team. And then breathing life into them so they become habitual. Getting them right is transformative for a business.
Our Values, After and Before the Killing
We were brutal and followed a process as a team to get to these, which I will share in a moment. These are our new draft values as we crash test them. Never carve them in stone!
Our new values after the killing:
Genius at Play
Our insatiable curiosity for better compels us to incite the genius in every tribe member to play, generating funergy, and producing delightful awesomeness.
Perpetuate Good Business
With gratitude we strive to help all good, purposeful businesses become better brands, ingraining positive impact, healthy profits and awesome culture.
Big Love, Like Family
Our tribe is our family. It includes our team, clients and the greater community. We’re devoted to the success of our tribe, collectively and individually.
Word selection is everything. We have been deliberate about every single one! The goal is to be as succinct and meaningful as possible. And we will have a little glossary to define particular unusual words nearby so we are all on the same page.
I am pretty excited about them too as they illustrate who we are as a culture now and moving forward.
Our old values before the killing:
Big Love, like Family
Our team and clients are family. We have each other’s backs and are devoted to every member’s success.
Our playfield is “outstanding”, the step above excellence. We continuously delight by taking initiative and by delivering extra awesomeness.
Effectiveness over Awards
We create stuff that works brilliantly, focusing on being lean and finding the simplest, quickest path.
Timeliness and Clarity
We are quick, meticulous and never rush, so our work is always on time and its awesomest.
We play our strengths with energy and have fun. Smiles and happiness are warmly reciprocated and bring positive outcomes.
With gratitude we help good, purposeful businesses become better brands, both profitable and cash strapped (via our impact streams).
Our financial vitality enables us to comfortably work in our geniuses and be the greatest possible benefit for our families, clients, communities and the world.
Obsession with Improvement
Our unquenchable fascination for the better way fuels our continuous personal and professional growth.
How We Killed Them
Some of these old values were very meaningful to me and the team. So how did we decide what to kill and what to keep?
It was essentially a three step process:
- Score: Team ranks each value on a Vital, Nice to Have, or Meh voting system.
- Discuss: Identify the most meaningful words from the top values and how they could be combined.
- Articulate: Mash them up and play with the words until they are befittingly awesome.
It feels a lot like pruning back an overgrown plant so it can be free to flower. 🙂
What’s Next With The New Values
Keep in mind these are super fresh! A working draft set that we have to crash test. They are so new that at the time of writing this post our culture and values page still contains the old values.
To build strength (muscle), it’s all about the repetitions. For a strong culture, repetition is the ritualisation of purpose and values into the day to day of the enterprise.
Some of the way we use our values currently are:
- Our recruitment process
- Team member one on ones
- New client decision
- Quarterly and monthly strategic planning
- Agenda items for team meetings
How To Determine It’s Time For You To Kill Your Values?
I love our new values! The energy and direction they give our team is awesome. Now is the perfect time for us to do it.
But how do you determine if the time is right for you?
Here is a quick 7 question self assessment for your values:
- Do you know your values by heart?
- Do your team?
- Do you have the right amount of values (<5)?
- Have you reviewed and refined them recently (<2yrs)?
- Are they clearly contextualised for your team?
- Are they helping you attract the right new team members?
- If you have answered No to any of these, then now could be just the right time.
Yell out if you want a hand. We have the tools, process and are masters of art in articulating awesome values.
In the interim, check out our Brand Magnetism Booster Express Guide which includes more awesome actions to increase your brand’s pulling power.