Are your company values corporate bullshit?

Written by one of our sales peeps, Loviisa Läärä.

Pardon my French. But really though — are they?

My colleague Christoffer used 10 minutes of our Christmas party to talk about our values. Yes, the stuff that companies have written on their walls as inspirational buzzwords. The stuff towards which you automatically get a slightly negative response because the concept suffers from a huge inflation. Heck, I even raised the hand myself when Christoffer asked how many in the room thinks company values are (usually) corporate BS!

If I google ”company values” I get 7 billion results. The top ones are ”Brilliant Examples of Company Values”, “Core Company Values That Will Shape Your Culture” or ”22 Company Values That Work”.

Work for who? Shape how?

Being a consultancy means we don’t have a cool product to hold onto. We can’t be united behind a big impactful mission of building a better world through clean technology or inventing alternatives for meat. (Although my colleagues might as well help our clients to solve these issues.)

All we have is our company culture, which results into more great developers who want to work with us. And our company culture, in turn, is based on our values. So actually, all we really have is our values. That is why we need to live and breathe them extra-much in order to truly be the company and people we claim to be. Otherwise we have nothing.

After Christoffer’s little speech we got the task to discuss how we live our values:

Engagement in others

Where to even begin. Engagement in others is not just Friday afterworks or having “awesome colleagues”. We have those too, but I’m talking about next level engagement now. It is about genuine care for one another, the feeling of someone having your back and wanting your best. We ensure this by having self-organizing teams we call crews, and their single most important task is to take care of one another. We have regular lunches, 1-on-1s, dinners and daily chatting to support, challenge and coach each other. I am in the same crew as Johan, and it warms my heart to read that he feels he can comfortably call us his friends. Now that, my friends, is what engagement in others is about for us!

Courage to be yourself

We talk a lot about authenticity, which can be explained as the courage to be yourself. A seemingly easy task, yet not always simple in today’s society and work life with lots of pressure and prestige. It takes guts to stand up for what you believe in, especially when you’re a newbie consultant at a new assignment and talking with someone who has 20 years more experience from the industry. It takes enormous guts to acknowledge your personal limits or grow to accept your true self and desires instead of being what others expect you to be.

Constant improvement

Sure, all companies strive for constant improvement. In a consultancy, however, that’s the essence of our business: you change assignment every 9th month on average and get a new product to work on, new technologies, new colleagues and a new commute. Above all, it is the drive for improvement that defines us. Looking at my colleague Johan, improvement can mean realizing the importance of having rules for how to write CSS and JavaScript as well as learning how to be constructive when facing an issue as a team. Or looking at myself even, when taking a leap so big that I was pretty lost for some months.

Our values are something we all have in common. We also have other values that we do not share with each other, but these three are the glue that holds us together. For some companies it might be a lofty mission or a world-saving product, for us it’s the values. And that is a solid foundation to build a company on! It is not corporate nonsense or a marketing trick — it is literally our entire existence.

The theme for this article was “My biggest learning from previous year”. What stroke me the most both when it comes to building a company and me as a human being is how to stay true to your values, to really live them. In many cases “how to do something” is the easiest part, but in this case I find it often the most difficult task.

Let 2020 be all about continuing to learn the how.

Written by our sales expert Loviisa Läärä.

Written by

Mpya Digital is an IT consultancy in Stockholm, Sweden. It is an organization made by — and continuously improved by — the people in it.

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