I am a great believer in the power of company culture. Culture shapes how things get done, what people perceive as important, and how people behave when the boss isn’t watching. Culture is a great way to provide guidance and boundaries without the need for detailed rules. Good cultures are an asset, bad ones a significant liability.
Whilst our culture was better than most, I recently felt we were beginning to get too corporate and bureaucratic. Spontaneously doing the right thing was losing out to hierarchical decision- making, which whilst not leading to wrong decisions, did slow change and sap the enthusiasm and freedom of a great bunch of people. We needed to snip this in the bud.
Rethinking Our Core Values
Values are the foundation stones of a culture, but when we looked at the old Clicktools values – Customer First, Adaptable, Reliable, and Teamwork – they could have been any company; they weren’t distinctive to us. Our starting point therefore was to rethink them. What the Executive Team came up with was six questions, which apply at all levels of the company and which shape anything and everything we do, day in, day out.
The six questions are:
- Did I help Clicktools succeed?
- Are my customers happy?
- Did I keep my promises?
- Have I tried my best?
- Did I enjoy work today?
- Do I live in the cloud?
Whilst not planned this way, they do fall into three pairs. The first two are outcome related – measures of our success. The second two focus on personal commitment and contribution. The last two relate to our working environment. All six questions are designed to shape the conversations we have across the company.
The last value, “Do I live in the cloud?” may need some explanation. Clicktools was built as a cloud app before the term was used to describe software. We integrate only with other cloud-based apps and use cloud-based software extensively. In other words, cloud is part of our DNA. It is fascinating to see how this value is being interpreted and implemented. We are now reviewing every piece of software we use to ensure that it’s the best of what the cloud has to offer with the added benefit of making work a bit more enjoyable. It has driven us to look again at how we leverage social media in our marketing and general messaging, how we communicate with customers, and what mix of tools we use for collaboration.
We are now embarking on a root and branch review of our policies and practices to ensure they support these values. I will share the outcomes in a future blog.