Value statements can be real business drivers

Value statements can be real business drivers

The very phrase “company values” is enough to make some business owners – and many employees – groan and roll their eyes. For many businesses, corporate value statements are little more than vague motherhood statements that sound nice but bear little relation to way business is done.

But that’s not that case in every business – values can be made to work when they are a genuine part of a company’s culture. The successful companies of the future will be those that integrate business and employees’ personal values. The best people want to do work that contributes to society, with a company whose values they share, where their actions count and their views matter.

Companies with higher purpose

The value statements of Atlassian

The company values of Atlassian are bold and in your face. Proclaimed on the company’s web site, Atlassian values are:

  • Open company, No bullsh.t – Atlassian embraces transparency wherever at all practical, and sometimes where impractical. All information, both internal and external, is public by default. We are not afraid of being honest with ourselves, our staff and our customers.
  • Build with heart and balance – Everyday we try to build products that are useful and that people lust after. Building with heart means really caring about what we’re making and doing–it’s a mission, not just a job. When we build with balance we take into account how initiatives and decisions will affect our colleagues, customers and stakeholders
  • Don’t f..k the customer – When we make internal decisions we ask ourselves “how will this affect our customers?” If the answer is that it would ‘screw’ them, or make life more difficult, then we need to find a better way. We want the customer to respect us in the morning
  • Play as a team – We want all Atlassians to feel like they work with Atlassian, not for Atlassian. We think it’s important to have fun with your workmates while working and contributing to the Atlassian team
  • Be the change you seek – We think Gandhi had it pretty right when he said “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world”. At Atlassian we encourage everyone to create positive change–we’re constantly looking for ways to improve our company, our products and our environment

Atlassian formally proclaimed its values three years ago in a unique exercise. While other companies send their management teams off to retreats to work out their values, Atlassian did it the other way around. Management sat down and wrote out a list, and employees wrote down theirs. The two were compared.

There are no sales teams at Atlassian. Indeed, all sales for Atlassian come through word of mouth. Atlassian’s values of being a completely open company – in keeping with the no bullsh.t value, all customer complaints are logged on to the system for everyone to see – help pull in more customers.

To keep the values front and centre, Atlassian highlights examples of behavior that promote them.  Staff members who do that are turned into heroes.

The value statements of Rentoid

At Rentoid, which is trying to build itself into the eBay of renting, has a similar manifesto of values that speak the customer’s language.

Some examples of the company’s value include:

  • We will never have grey or any color cubicles
  • Our people work where they please geographically
  • We trust each other; we don’t confuse people with our language
  • We don’t trick people with terms and conditions
  • We speak like people. We are people
  • We answer our phone calls
  • Too much money creates laziness and reduces creativity. We use our brains first and our wallets second
  • For rentoid, and personally; we don’t work with jerks. Even if it could be financially beneficial
  • Fun at work is more important than all things. It is not a corporate event, a team building exercise or a day out
  • We believe in opposites. The opposite of buying and selling is keeping, recycling, renting.

In an interview Shannon Cooper, who runs the business, said:

Our values are not only relevant to us but to our customers as well. We not only think about the things the company values but what our customers value as well. We use technology as a way of bringing people together. If we have those values and if they are available to our customers, the business by default will be successful.

He says the manifesto was a document that was not developed as part of a strategy. It evolved naturally “rather than something we wrote on a weekend.

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

Blog Comments

I find this interesting from the perspective of aligning people emotionally. Each of the statements represent some attributes of trust, openness , integrity , flexibility, self accountability, curiosity which help. Now the question is how can all this aggregate and reflect on success of a corporation as measured by shareholder returns, which maybe very different than being effective.

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