We have decided to make it simple by picking 3 fundamental values for our company. Here they are, with a little bit of context about our process.
Since the beginning of Beeye's story, we've tried identifying our values three times.
The first two times were completely in vain.
We fell in the classic trap that catches many companies: we picked generic values that don't mean much concretely when it comes to the way the company is run day to day.
In fact, there are different kinds of values that are often conflated:
- Core values: the fundamental principles that guide every action of your company.
- Aspirational values: the values your company aspires to, but that are still missing.
- Permission-to-play values: reflect the basic requirements expected of any employee when it comes to their social behaviour.
- Accidental values: emerge spontaneously without any direct effort from leadership and grow bigger with time.
For example, after our first attempt, we had picked "professionalism" as a value.
Do you know many companies who embrace non-professionalism?
That's because it's a quintessential permission-to-play value. We're selling enterprise software, and it's a given that we should be professional.
A few years later, we did the same exerices, but we made that mistake again. This time, not only did we have generic values like collaboration or continuous improvement, but also values that were far from guiding our company every day.
Luckily, we can find some solace in the fact that as far meaningless values go, there is much worse than us!
For example, here are the values that you could find in Enron's 2000 annual report — the year before they went out of business after a massive accounting fraud scandal:
Did you say integrity? Yeah, right.
Another, more general problem with values that most organizations use is that they're not unique or meaningful. About 55% of Fortune 100 companies have "integrity" as one of their values (where have we seen that before?). About 49% have "client satisfaction" as a value. And 40% have "teamwork."
For our third attempt, we were determined to find values that are really meaningful and unique to us.
Here are the 3 principles that will guide us every day:
Of course, they will evolve with time, and will probably be completed by other ones. But our goal was to start small, bet on quality, and make sure they're memorable.
By starting with only 3 key values, we will ensure everyone knows them inside out.
Here's a more detailed tour of the values we picked:⁂