I recently had a discussion with a group of colleagues about the value of organizational culture, its effect on how it can effect the growth of the organization and also how it can raise the value of an entire community. Many ideas were briefly bandied about, but as I was driving home, I started to think of what values I would define for a new team.
I've seen many styles of leadership and management over the years, and mixing those styles that I saw work with my own internal values, I think these would be the core values.
Collaboration is the primary core value for me. I am never of the mind that I know exactly what to do at any point in time because I'm sure someone else has a better idea. When I'm expected to make decisions, I tend to listen to everyone's ideas first, mix it around with my own experiences and see what kind of awesome comes out of the bowl.
Anyone who believes that they can make the right decision in a vacuum and knows that they are the smartest person in the room is guaranteed to not be. Sure, there are plenty of people who feel comfortable making quick decisions, and sometimes they are the right ones. I've found that decisions that have a material effect on people, a product, or a customer are best made in a collaborative environment.
I tend to avoid companies and teams that don't have any engagement with their local communities of interest. By that I mean, if you are in the business of making the best brake pads in the world, you need to make sure that people in your organization go to the Brake Pads Meetup (or start it up if it doesn't exist). Offer to host meetings, and sponsor local events. It takes minimal time and cost, and the benefits far outweigh them.
You benefit by creating goodwill in the craft communities. Whatever craftspeople drive the creation of products for your vertical, showing them that you are willing to foster creative education and the sharing of ideas will drive people to your doors looking to keep the effort going and work with people who are open minded and collaborative.
You benefit by exposing your teammates to new ideas. It's far too easy to create an insular environment when your team is focused on a goal, but if 5 heads are better than 1, then 30 heads are better than 5.
This one is pretty cliche now, but that doesn't make it any less important. I've had the great honor of working with some truly passionate people in my career, and the difference they have made in my life, personally and professionally, is immeasurable. Passionate people tend to be passionate about a great variety of things, not just one. That enthusiasm and attention to detail is the spice of life that changes how you think about things.
At Digital Reasoning, there are several people who are passionate about woodworking. They bring in photos of their latest projects, and talk at length about the tools, tricks, and enhancements they've made to their workspace and instruments. My Dad is a long time woodworker, and I still have the roll top desk he made for me up in our spare bedroom.
Listening to them talk about the satisfaction is gives them, and all the painstaking hours of making the perfect piece makes me want to go out and try woodworking. Chances are that I won't ever get the time to do it, but that joy spreads like wildfire when people talk about their passions.
Creative destruction is a value that I feel the best companies do well. Being able to objectively look at processes, tools, products and people and be willing to destroy it all so that something better comes out of it makes better craftspeople and increases the capabilities of the organization. Performing this task iteratively, on the areas where it is most needed, keeps your organization more open to new ideas, and allows everyone to be creative and feeling like they are helping everyone.
Doing What Works
Doing what works consistently is a child value of creative destruction. This is the natural evolution of creative destruction and requires people on your who have the experience and wisdom to recognize that iterating any further would not produce a ROI on the process. Once you've identified that you've got the optimal solution after n iterations, it's time to adopt a best practice.
There's no point in wasting mental, or physical, energy to improve something that is performing optimally. Accept any anomalies that aren't of high value, and move on to something else. Just reserve the right to, at any point, take your best practice and realize that it needs to be destroyed if it stops working for you.
Respect should pervade the entire organization. Engineers should respect administrative staff, executive staff should respect the sales staff, product management should respect the tech and sales support staff, basically everyone should respect each other.
That means their time, the value they bring to the organization, their ideas, or just them as a person. We've all worked with arrogant jerks who we would never associate with outside of the office, but even if you don't respect the person, you can respect their value and ideas, or any combination thereof.
This also means respect for your customers, your industry partners, and the people in your local community.
It's that simple.
(footnote: if no one in the organization can respect the person, or the ideas and value the person brings, it's time to evaluate their worth as a teammate)
So there you have it. I can even remember all of them off the top of my head with a simple acronym that happens to closely resemble a classic android from a particularly popular space fantasy genre.
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