A Note on Purpose, Values, and Mission

Obligatory nod to the "climbing the mountain" company mission metaphor.

Obligatory nod to the "climbing the mountain" company mission metaphor.

I've spent a big chunk time the past couple weeks working on big picture RevBoss stuff -- mission, purpose, values, culture, etc.  I think about these things on an ongoing basis, so it has been enjoyable writing everything down and getting the team involved in the process. 

I started a team process with a couple whiteboard sessions and then a professionally moderated workshop in March in which we discussed personal values, career goals, and whatnot. I've been surprised by the organic nature of the process -- the team and I have been very honest with each other vis a vis our expectations from RevBoss and the things that we care about.  I was so surprised by how easily it has started coming together that I began to wonder if I wasn't properly managing this process or thinking about it the wrong way or whatever.

To check myself, this morning I dug up a culture deck that I built while running my last company, Argyle Social.  We did a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong at Argyle, but I think most of my former employees would agree that we did a very good job fostering a great company culture.  So I was surprised to see that the culture deck that Adam and I presented to the team wasn't very good -- full of platitudes, half-baked goals, and blah blah blah.

This lead me to consider a few things:

  • Leadership frames and reflects the culture, but it is really the team that defines it.  Adam and I built an OK deck and started a conversation, but the great people we hired at Argyle actually created the culture.
  • Culture, purpose, values, etc. should map to things that the culture- and value-creators (e.g. your employees and your customers) care about, not your investors or the market or whatever else.  Argyle's purpose was to become the dominant mid-market social media blah blah blah...at which employees stop listening because this stuff doesn't really change their day-to-day life in a meaningful way.  (And Argyle obviously fell far short of this lofty, shitty purpose.)
  • Any attempt to define culture and values should be incredibly honest and personal, not copied from the Netflix Freedom & Responsibility Culture deck.  I think we were mostly honest with ourselves at Argyle...but I also remember not spending very much time on the process, maybe a coffee chat or two.  And the quality of the document we created doesn't reflect much rigor.

So it has been interesting working through this process a 2nd time with a new company at RevBoss.  I'll share what we come up with in a few weeks.