Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Value of Values and Culture

5 yrs ago Kari and Me had a discussion about listing values in various places of the workplace.. Kari had disagreed and mentioned that values should be imbibed and mentored, I agreed that it should be imbibed and mentored to, but I also argued that it should be visible to the team whenever they are in office. When they step in to the office and each one sees that Open mindedness is our key characteristic it will make them realise at a certain point when they are arguing with someone and not ready to accept change which can be good for the organization. I have 2 reasons to write this today...

1. We subscribed to the value of "Initiatives for good" a long time ago. Several team mates initiated a few things and carried them further. This was an awesome thing to happen to our team ever. Some initiatives were just triggered and they were widely and enthusiastically accepted by others.. Be it an initiative to curb a development process or be it a fun activity like playing Carrom tournament in office. For a while I noticed that while we tried and continued to do this.. a big set of team mates [mostly older employees] have lost this value. I see occasions where initiative taken by anyone else is not so widely accepted as earlier, some mates prefer to even run away from it.. for whatever reason this may be. I believe this value though mentored hideously was one key to the success of morals of the team and now that it diminishes, hurts bad. In my attempt to figure out why values get diminished I came across several findings that I write below....

2. Another reason of writing this is my encounter with the book "Delivering Happiness" written by Tony H the CEO of Zappos 2 weeks ago [Thanks to Henrik who wrote a very inspiring email for the Team and Me and referred me to the book]. In his path to make Zappos a more than 120 B company a lot of emphasis was given on Culture, Team and Values... and I must say that his write up explains that it was very important for the Team first to understand what it is... Tony along with Angela send an email to Zappos employees to write down what Zappos culture meant to them.. predominantly the responses became a culture book.. you can find this culture book somewhere on their Team web site...

So as a part of culture building and true value of Values of the team I still feel it is important that your workplace demonstrate the values of your team and company. Of course I now limit this to the development team, but it is important that this is followed for an entirety. Values should just not be consficiated at one layer and ignored at another, subscribed at another.. they have to remain same.. If "Customer is GOD" is one of your values then Customer services should be a factor of greatness not just for your Customer services team, but also your CEO, Sales, Development and even the customers who use your product. I believe if you make your customer happy is just not enough, you have to ensure that you make your customers customer happy by easing up his difficulties.. do you do that? No? Do you want to re-think on your value then?

Anyways.. going back to the way the values and principles diminish... here is what I found when a certain set of values started getting ignored by a few and some of them even took a path of getting diminished...

1. Leaders have to follow. If leads don't, no one will
2. You should never speak about what the problem is, speak about what the solution is... "In doing so the problem is blah blah" gives your team a feeling that they can get away easily by creating a story of a major issue
3. If they want to run away from values, they are not a culture fit. Fire them right away
4. Speak, Do and Speak is the true value mean.
5. Find a way to evolve, if you don't evolve it diminishes.. Water level rises only due to increase in pressure belts
6. Values need to be understood to be followed, if you cannot make them understand it, they wont follow it.
7. Moral policing is negative effect, Moral upbringing is not.
8. Shove out ego's, to shove it out first find the ego's on where they exist

For the issues mentioned in point 1, We are working on it... next few days I would blog on how we handle this issue... I am sure you would be here to read it. In case you have your contributions to our case, please don't hesitate to contribute... One of our inherent values is "Free discussion of Ideas" :)

P.S : Kari sorry for brining this up, and I think in my first post I missed a word that changed the statement, I corrected it.

P.S 2 : The big set of team mates are still great guys to work with, its just that they don't realize they are the future of leadership