How to visualize your organization’s values – a story

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by Sabrina & Seedbox

Growth. It’s the magical word in economics. And sure, growth is good.  But, as we’ve seen many times before, growth comes with a whole new set of problems. Take company values for example: you can put something in a mission statement, organize team-building sessions, focus on teamwork activities and, for good measure, make sure you don’t forget employee recognition. But values are strange things. It does matter what they are, what matters is how you “live” those values.

when we started growing, understanding values turned out not to be natural anymore.

I was talking about this with my friend Sabrina who works at a Montreal company called Seedbox. She had an interesting story (luckily in English, because my French is épouvantable). “For almost fifteen years our company had a small team, a handful of people that knew each other very well and didn’t need to talk about values. It was something everyone understood. But the last couple of years we grew rapidly in terms of projects and people. And when we started growing, understanding values turned out not to be natural anymore.” So they decided to put some emphasis on it, needing to define what drives them, what they are working towards to. “Living our values had always been what we did. When we grew to 160 people in the company the ‘Wild West way’ we used to do things just didn’t work anymore.

A new office, a new start

For Sabrina the perfect opportunity to do something about it came when Seedbox moved to a new office. “As a marketeer I’d like to always reinforce our values. For a while I was looking for a recognition system we could use and I did quite some research. But I couldn’t find a system that was fresh and not just about ‘filling a quota’.” In short, Sabrina wanted something in the Seedbox style; peer-to-peer and from the heart. “I actually wanted a living space; something that made sure you could see what was going on in the company.”

we now have a visual, living, breathing retrospective of what is going on

So far, I liked Sabrina’s story. And then I started to like it even more. This is what they did: in a high traffic place they created a Wall of Honor. You could visually thank everyone who did something for the company or for you. Right there where everybody could see it. Just write and post a note to share what you liked in a colleague’s actions or behavior. “We divided the wall into blocks: one for every month. So we now have a living, breathing retrospective of what is going on. We can see how we are evolving. One of the great things is that upper management uses the Wall of Honor as well. Even Karl, our president.”

I asked Sabrina what her plans for the future are now this wall seems to work. “Maybe in the future I’d like an extension of the wall. A big visual token of recognition you can put on your desk for a month. And after that month, you can choose someone from the wall to pass it on. But I’m still working on that.”

I think it’s a brilliant idea, especially the time-lapse part. You can really see where you are going together. So please Sabrina, could you post this on you wall on behalf of me?

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