In the early days of our company we had a strong culture. We were driven and focused, and by definition that meant a strong culture. Most of that culture helped us succeed. Some was of no impact. (And there were a couple of things that were counterproductive.)
But then we did something very unusual.
We Added Company Core Values
Our CEO at the time, Shirley Clawson, had the executive team spend 4 hours working out what our core values are. This was a long arduous process with a lot of very intense discussion. We then presented it to the company and incorporated both employee feedback and our own thoughts as we saw it in action.
Core values are not what we want them to be. And our set of core values doesn’t include every core value that is part of our company culture. (For example, a politically incorrect biting sense of humor is clearly a core value here.)
But core values are values we have and we want to ensure they remain a part of the company. And we have subsequently worked to retain these values.
Why Core Values Matter
I recently heard very strong validation of our efforts here.
Michael Gregorie, the CEO of CA Technologies, recently gave a speech at the Telluride Venture Accelerator Demo Days. It was about the tremendous importance and strength of company culture. He discussed for about a ½ hour not only the competitive advantage of company culture but the necessity of one to be successful.
It was strong validation of the value of the effort we’ve put in to reinforce and keep our company core values. And we’ll continue to keep putting in that effort in the future because it’s paying off for us in a big way.
Want to learn more about Windward’s company core values? Check out my series of blog posts on company core values: Click here for the first post, “Create a Team of ‘A’ Players.”
P.S. We use 7Geese, along with tracking our objectives and key results, to get people to regularly recognize others for embodying our Core Values. It makes this something that everyone pays mind to daily. (I have no connection to 7Geese other than I’m a very happy customer.)
Author: David Thielen
Dave, Windward's founder and CEO, is passionate about building superb software teams from scratch and dramatically improving the productivity of existing software teams. He's really proud that he once created a game so compelling (Enemy Nations) that a now-professional World of Warcraft player lost his job for playing it incessantly on company time. You can read more from Dave on his personal blog, and at Huffington Post.
Other posts by David Thielen