In search of the truth of what it means to own a business
This spring, I took the advice of a friend and colleague, Dustin Wells, CEO of Headspring, who suggested that the key to growth is to examine your core values as a company. This wasn’t about the partners of our agency getting together to gab about how great we are, this was about asking three specific questions of each person in the company and listening to their answers. Or in my case, reading their answers.
I can’t say that I was surprised by the responses that came from the passionate people who make up lookthinkmake. After all, we’re 17 people who genuinely like working together and even like each other personally.
Since we’re a small, close-knit creative firm, it wasn’t surprising that everyone took time to open up and share what they felt were important core values for lookthinkmake. The top five? Well, everyone wrote in their own voice – so it took some interpretation for me to arrive at the answers. Ask 17 people to list five things and you get 85 different things. But you don’t. After I read the individual responses, I soon arrived at a solid top five. So here we go:
1. Our team is a group that values Leadership. The words and phrases: “lead by example,” “effective leadership,” “inspiring leadership.”
2. We value Innovation, which includes “learning,” “questioning,” “improving,” and “adaptability.”
3. We value Perseverance towards Quality. Phrases that were shared include “a lasting desire for improvement” and “never accept mediocrity.”
4. We value Respectful Honesty. I like this one a lot. It means that we’re able to share thoughts and views without trampling each other, our vendors, or our clients.
It’s amazing what people will share — and how it impacts quality and innovation — when you have a place where it’s safe to be honest. Honesty isn’t just about giving opinions, either; it’s about being able to trust your coworkers everyday knowing that they will do what they say they will do. I can see why we feel it’s so important.
5. And number five? These four elements support the most important element that we value: Culture. Culture is tricky to define, yet we all feel it in our guts and want to preserve it. We’re weird like that.
In summary: We’re a bunch of weirdos that like helping other people tell their story in a meaningful way, and we do this by being respectful of our clients as they honestly tell us their needs and problems, by innovatively thinking about how to approach and solve their needs, and by creating quality work that positions ourselves and our clients as leaders in our respective fields.
Now, say that five times fast.