The Value of Values

December 1, 2022
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When a company has a foundation of shared values that are reinforced, lived true to and believed in by all, it is a powerful and effective framework from which to build strategy, teams, and governance that aligns with an identity. Everything then flows from there. Pride lends itself to quality work and commitment, which in turn leads to return customers and growth.
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I used to be that person. You know, the one who rolls their eyes every time company leadership begins mixing their word salad…”values, mission, vision”. Looking back, I realize that I wasn’t opposed to these concepts. Rather, I was put off by the execution. Many leaders have been through the exercise only because it’s something that their board required; perfunctory, and possibly even a nuisance to these leaders. And it shows in both the content and commitment to a shared vision, mission and set of business values within those organizations.

Yet in reality, I see these as important concepts when approached with the appropriate introspection and enthusiasm. Not just important, critical really.

In this article, I will focus on Company Values specifically, and I will highlight Rockhop’s values and what these values mean to us.

Company values aren’t a judgement of morality. These are business values. One company may value being nimble and flexible, while another may value being disciplined and structured. These aren’t religious or personal values, no…rather, these are business values that are specific to one business. Our business. And while often we see moral and ethical beliefs weaved throughout our values, there is no right or wrong for any business. There’s only what’s right for your business.

For us at Rockhop, our values are enduring and foundational. They serve as a guide in all we do. We hold them up to strategy, new hire candidates, partnerships and much more. We look to our values to help make the most difficult decisions, and those decisions are often made easier by having a framework within which to make them. While only one page of words, the amount of time and contemplation that goes into these values is significant. Values don’t change, so getting them right is of upmost importance. Equally important to us, never forgetting them. Leaning on our values isn’t a once in a while thing…I lean on them for decision making on a daily basis. We don’t publish them on websites and walls to prove we have them. We publish them to remind us to adhere to them always, in all we do.

Also important is to keep them finite, succinct. This is really for two reasons. First, and quite obvious I’m sure, is to ensure they’re easy to recall. In addition, it’s my belief that emphasis on what’s most important is part of this exercise for your business. If everything is important, nothing is. This is about priorities for your business’s character.

Below are four, succinct and profoundly influential values that guide us at Rockhop. I’ll expand upon each here, and wax poetic about how they manifest themselves day to day for us…

  • Excellence without arrogance
  • Uncompromising transparency
  • Measurable results
  • A place we like

Excellence without Arrogance

Humility comes naturally to those confident in their abilities. We pause to listen because seeking to understand should always precede seeking to be understood. We embrace the learnings that come from fast failures and slow successes alike.

There are those who can’t wait to get the next word in during a conversation, a sharp contrast to those who actively listen. At Rockhop we hire for, and train, patience and understanding because we value those attributes both internally and externally. You will find this in everything from our sales methodology to our engagement model, from our people policies to how we structure strategy discussions.

To be clear, we are consultants. We have a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge, and it would be very easy for us to think we know what the problem is and jump to a solution. However, experience has taught us that it takes time and an ego “checked at the door” to listen and learn to inform the best possible solutions.

Humility also means accepting that we learn through experiences. Naturally, that means occasional failures. We believe that a maniacal focus on learning also means accepting failure as an opportunity, We embrace failure internally, meaning we never fail on our customers’ time. In fact, we gladly pay for these opportunities to learn. It’s just our mindset.

Uncompromising Transparency

Knowledge is power, and we’re more powerful together when we communicate openly. There are no secrets among us, our partners, investors and customers.

Information, good and bad, is one of the most important tools we have in business. Empowered with information, we can make better decisions and make them more quickly. This means we don’t believe there’s such a thing as oversharing in business. It’s important, and has served us well, to reinforce the idea that it’s not just what you share, but how quickly you do that matters. To achieve such open and direct communications both internally and externally, leaders need to set an example through actions.

Why is transparency hard? Perhaps because it leaves one vulnerable to the visibility of both success and failure. We see a lack of visibility as a downward spiral to unhealthy risk aversion, so we encourage transparency. When risk taking is not encouraged, an organization loses it’s edge…it’s entrepreneurial passion. And yet we know from experience that with risk can come a multiplier reward. As such, we like rebels in our business. We want those who ask the tough questions.

Measurable Results

If we cannot identify how we will deliver measurable results to any customer or partner, we should not engage. We value and celebrate results, and we take pride in the impact our work delivers.

There’s nothing altruistic about a strong desire to provide a measurable impact. Professional services are invisible. One can’t demo a professional service, so we need to prove our value and earn trust over time. Since most customers would be eager to spend a $1 if they were confident that they would earn $2 or save $2 in return, we work to model impact on the front end, before contracts are signed.

We build this commitment to measurable results into our sales methodology and delivery execution model. It’s a series of questions we’re constantly asking…”what will this enable you to do that you can’t do today?”; ”what’s the impact?”’; “how can we measure that impact over time?”. This type of alignment provides confidence knowing our work will be of value, and that is the recipe for expanding existing client relationships (see, nothing altruistic about it).

What’s unique about Rockhop is that we encourage our teams to graciously bow out of opportunities with clients where we cannot mutually agree with a client on the measurable impact our work will deliver. Trust is at the heart of successful business relationships, and we are obsessed with earning it.

A Place We Like

We embrace diversity, demonstrate empathy, and seek fun. It starts with the team. Talent attracts talent and values attract similar values, but embracing our differences ensures we approach our work with an open lens. We expect that all “Rockers” will look back on these times as the best of their careers, and customers will recall a collaboration and level of expertise beyond any they have experienced.

It's easy to say “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It is harder to accomplish. This core value hits home for Rockhop because our founders have worked together in everything from building boutique consultancies to taking global technology organizations public, and the consistent leading indicator of success across all company types is culture. When a company has purpose for which everyone feels both aligned to and accountable for, great things happen. Clarity of purpose makes work more fun and interesting.

The term “a place we like” has shifted in recent years. At one point it was all about modern office spaces with free food, massages and ping-pong tables. In a post pandemic world, the idea of “place” has changed as work became home and home became work.

Rockhop recognizes and embraces this evolution of “place”, and we try to ensure that distance doesn’t limit interaction. Whether it’s company gatherings, collaboration technologies or just great communications among colleagues, our “place” truly is wherever we are.

Finally, “place” is more than a location. It’s also the makeup of the people in that place. At Rockhop, we believe if we were all the same we wouldn’t need one another. We not only embrace, but actively build a place that brings unique perspectives from people of diverse backgrounds.

To summarize, it may be cliché to publish company values on a website or have them painted on office walls, however there’s nothing cliché about living one’s values. When a company has a foundation of shared values that are reinforced, lived true to and believed in by all, it is a powerful and effective framework from which to build strategy, teams, and governance that aligns with an identity. Everything then flows from there. Pride lends itself to quality work and commitment, which in turn leads to return customers and growth. Simple really!

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