What’s Important Now?
“What are we doing here today?” This question was on the minds of our team members this morning as we began a meeting to discuss Pendant’s core values. Yuck, right?
Pendant Automation is in the middle of a website revamp, and today was our day to sit down together and begin the process of replacing the “culture statements” that appear on our existing website with more up-to-date and more Pendant-specific values.
We chose a method using sticky notes to get people to write down their description of Pendant culture as it exists, and the ideal culture we aspire to.
Let’s be clear. This was about a lot more than just revamping the website. What we really wanted to do today was look in the mirror and have a serious discussion about what matters to us. And we wanted it to be real. The process and the conversation needed to be the important parts, not the end result.
You would think it would be easy to describe, wouldn’t you? After all, each of us works here every day. But it’s not simple to capture it in words so that everyone on the team gets it, and it’s even more complicated to make sure that clients, prospects, vendors, and future team members get it, too.
So we went through the first part of what will be a multi-step process today. We distilled many thoughts into some interesting themes (as you can see in the photo – we ended up with about a dozen “clumps” of ideas). The next step will be to write down what we really mean to say about what matters to us. We hope we do it well enough that people who like what we stand for will want to collaborate with us in some way, because our experience shows that when we work with people who are attracted to our core values, projects go much more smoothly and profitably for everyone.
We learned a few things today, too:
- Just about everything we described to ourselves as important included some level of aspiration – in other words, we recognized ways we could improve in all of the areas.
- We were able to have a frank discussion. It wasn’t an exercise in self-congratulation. That in turn led to us recognizing the afore-mentioned opportunities to improve. And it is still causing me to ask what it is about our culture that allowed for such a free and open critique of ourselves. Whatever that is, we want to continue to cultivate it.
- It is possible to value something too much and turn a strength into a weakness. For example, a company that “bends over backwards” too far and too often in the fanatical pursuit of “customer focus” can damage their own and their clients’ businesses, too.
- This is a subject (i.e., the things that are important) that generates interest enough such that everyone in our meeting was a full participant. It could be that is because it is a sufficiently interesting topic, but I think it was also due to the fact that the process we chose was not top-down. We started from scratch with the whole team.
- We emerged with one very-clear cut value that was unanimously approved – integrity. To us, that is more than just being honest. It means doing what you say you’re going to do.
What now? We have some more back and forth to come. We’ll draft some language to explain precisely what we mean to say, and then we’ll beat it up some more. We don’t yet know where it will end up, but you will see it on our new website when we launch it.
This is the first of what will be a recurring series of blog posts about life at Pendant. We’d love some feedback. Have you been through an exercise like this recently? How did it work out for you?
Leave your feedback here: Here are my thoughts