Saturday, March 19, 2011

Core Values Pt II: Coming up with the list

I recently published the first cut of my Core Values. It's pretty amazing what an effect they're already having. I wouldn't say I'm immediately reformed or transformed, but my awareness has definitely increased. Below I've outlined the steps I followed to come up with the list.

The Plan

Blog11 Slide1

Develop a set of core values that will help me achieve my long term objective/s. i.e.Build things that will make myself and others happy within 20-30 years.

a. List out as many core values as I can based on:

  • Experiences
  • Biographies (Benjamin Franklin, Richard Branson, Tony Hsieh, etc)
  • Core values from others (e.g. Zappos, Seth Godin, Virgin, etc)

b. Describe what each core value means to me.
Note: When dealing with other people's core values stick to my interpretation of the value.

Here's a sample of what I came up with at the end of the brainstorming session:

  • Value:
    • Deliver WOW through Service (Source: Zappos)

    • Interpretation:
      - Go the extra mile in all interactions. Don't settle for the norm.  Always be on the look out to see If there's a way to improve the quality of what you're doing for yourself or others.
  • Value: (I grouped some that I thought were related)
    • Embrace and Drive Change (Source: Zappos)
    • Be Adventurous, Creative and Open Minded (Source: Zappos)
    • Go from Good to Great then Ship It! (Source: Good to Great + Seth Godin)

      - Don't be afraid to seek out and try something different. It's easy to get into a routine and feel safe. But most things that stay dormant atrophy over time. Water that doesn't move becomes stagnant. Muscles that aren't used get weaker. I think most of us have an inclination towards finding stability but it often comes at a price.

      - Don't get snared by the trap of perfection. Recognize when something's ready to ship and ship it. At the same time make sure what you ship is Great! Embrace feedback rather than fearing it. A product that's constantly perfected but never shared is worth little.
  • etc
  • etc
  • etc


  • Reality Check
    I found that my goal wasn't helping me focus as much as I wanted to. A lot of the core values I brainstormed sounded cool, but I didn't want to adopt them all. My goal (I want to build something) was too vague to help me refine the list. How do I know if my core values are going to align with stuff I haven't thought of yet? Instead of focusing on specific things I want to build, I decided to start with figuring out what I enjoy doing. My rationale is that figuring out what I enjoy doing is something I can do now and I know I'd ultimately like build things I enjoy:

    In his free online course (called Lateral Action) Mark McGuiness describes a technique where you try to notice what you like and dislike over a period of time (days/weeks/months). This is where being able to "switch it on" can be very handy. For example, someone might say they don't like grocery shopping, but notice that every time they go shopping they enjoy the coffee aisle. I think most of the time we'd miss a detail like that but perhaps it's a clue! Perhaps your love for coffee goes beyond your average Jo's addiction ;-) Or perhaps not. It's just a clue.

    I've used Mark's technique and added an explanation of why I enjoy the things on my list.

    - In some cases explaining Why? was both tough and revealing.
    - As I was refining the brainstormed values into my first draft I kept referring back to this section to see if my chosen values would support these areas

    • Photography (incl. fashion, documentary and creative portraiture)
      I want to create artwork that evokes an emotional response. Something that makes a difference even if it's just for a moment.

    • IT Architecture (Application Design and Solution Architecture)
      I see software as something that's as necessary as furniture. Figuratively speaking, some people "live" in a piece of software for a significant part of their day. I think investing the effort to design and build software that will help a group of people is worthwhile.
    • Visual Communication
      Presenting ideas more effectively by using more images and less words. Communication is what we do everyday. Why not make it beautiful and highly effective?

    • African Drumming
      It's one of the first times I experience an art that combines both the logical and creative sides of my brain! I also love the idea of being part of a band.

    • Entrepreneurship
      I'd like to run my own business some day where I get to deliver some of the experiences I've enjoyed to others who may share my passions

    • Yoga
      The more I go to Yoga classes the more I'm realizing the importance of "being present" (i.e. mind is focused on where I am rather than "checking out" and being somewhere else). Keeping present when you're struggling through all the various poses is a challenge I enjoy.
  • Consolidate duplicates
  • Personalize
  • Sanity check core values with things you enjoy (Still haven't done enough of this!)



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