I used to scoff at “company values”, but that’s changed.

I used to scoff at “company values”, but that’s changed.

I attended the Business of Software conference last week, and as usual, I’m fired up. Every year for the last 5 years, Ted & I have been attending that conference as a way to get inspiration from other software entrepreneurs.

In the past, it’s led to a variety of changes to our business – switching to a web-based service, building RemnantSwap and CounterGo, and finding some of our newest co-workers.

This time, we walked away with something that I really didn’t expect – writing down our company values, some guiding principles, and goals.

Moraware has been around for over a decade, and we’ve never thought that we’d do this kind of thing. In fact, I’ve scoffed at other companies’ Mission Statements, Core Values, and other froofy grand plans. But, I’m really happy we did it.

Why?

We recently added several new folks to our team, and we want to make sure they’re empowered to make choices and decisions. We’ve hired people who are incredibly smart, motivated, and experienced. But, the missing ingredient is information.

For them to make the same decisions I would make, they need the same information.

That was one of the lessons that struck me, from Joel – one of the co-founders at Buffer. They’ve taken that to an amazing extreme; having everything public, including all of their salaries.

We’re not anywhere close to that level of transparency, but it really feels good to codify the behavior we’ve been using over the last few years.

I never intentionally hid my values, but we weren’t always clear about communicating. That’s led to problems with some employees in the past. We hired folks who had amazing skills, but didn’t completely match our values. When the role changed and the skills weren’t as useful, they were no longer a core part of the team.

So, what are our values?

Well, what’s interesting is that the first one is Incremental Improvement. That means that we’ll never craft a fully-formed beautiful object… on the first try. That even applies to our values. This, and everything we do is always a work in progress. All of us want the feeling of adding something valuable every day. That means that most days, it’s only a small step in the right direction.

We’re also very Customer-Focused. If we add long-term value to our customers, that means that we’ll also succeed. We’re in this for the long haul, and almost every good decision we’ve made was based on adding more value for our customers.

At Moraware, we’re also Collaborative – we work better together to solve problems. The flip side of that is that we don’t ask permission to do things; instead we run it by at least one other person in the company.

We’re also really passionate about solving business problems. That means that everyone here thinks in terms of the underlying business problems, rather than just the task at hand. Sometimes that’s the business problems of our customers, other times our own.

There are a couple of others we’re still hammering out, but I think the other key element is that we all are fun and (occasionally) funny. I’ve spent the vast majority of the last 12 years talking about Moraware, the countertop industry, and software. If it was just serious business every day, I don’t think I could hack it this long.

What are your values?

If you’re the owner of a business reading this, have you written down your own values? When you hire the next person, how will you know if they’ll fit into your company?

What we’ve discovered over time is that even with the right set of skills, if someone doesn’t share your values they’re not going to be a long-term fit for your company.

Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you.

2 thoughts on “I used to scoff at “company values”, but that’s changed.

  1. Pingback: Setting goals – part 1

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