From The CEO: Why Core Values Are Key to Our Culture

I returned last week from the Entrepreneur's Organization semi-annual conference, which was held in Buenos Aires. I learned how to be a more effective CEO, saw some amazing sights, and was inspired by some incredibly impressive peers. As I talked with other entrepreneurs about Digital Bungalow, our core values--and my passion for them--kept coming up in conversation.

About 18 months ago at Digital Bungalow, we formalized our core values. Historically, I had always dismissed core values as the sort of thing that big companies have in place and everyone pretty much ignores. We were working with an outside strategic planning consultant and he explained the importance of defining our core values as part of a proactive vision for Digital Bungalow.

In order to define our core values, we undertook an exercise in which we imagined that we were colonizing the moon with a Digital Bungalow office. Each person on the management team had to write down the names of the five people they would want to send on our behalf. The names of the employees aren't important--each of our lists was different--but the "why" was. Why those five people? What characteristics did they have that represent the best of Digital Bungalow? We compiled a list of dozens of traits and characteristics, and ultimately boiled them down into a list of four unique core values:

  • Find the Smartest Solution
  • Deliver +1% Internally and Externally
  • Embrace the Challenge
  • Put the Team First

Our core values define three major things:

  1. Who we employ at Digital Bungalow. We want to bring in team members who already have and embody our core values. 
  2. How we tackle hard decisions. The core values serve as a guide in deciding what to do in certain situations.
  3. What to expect from each other. Our core values are prominently displayed on our walls throughout our offices, they are a part of our company orientation, and we recognize the best examples of others demonstrating our core values as a part of our weekly department meetings and monthly company meetings.


As a business leader, it's easy to focus on the tangible and the immediate: what we're doing for this customer, what we're proposing for that customer, how we're marketing ourselves, and what we're trying to accomplish this week, this month, and this quarter. Along the way, it's easy for company culture to just sort of...happen.


At Digital Bungalow, our culture is so key to our ability to attract and retain top talent--which is ultimately what our clients are paying for--that we can't afford to let our culture just happen. Defining our core values was an important key milestone for us at Digital Bungalow because it codified what we stand for, who we are, and how we deliver to both our fellow co-workers and to our clients. Now that we've had defined core values in place for a year and half, it feels like Digital Bungalow wouldn't be the same place without them.
 

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