How to decide what values drive your startup?


Values are surely more than just attributes you list down and stick it to the walls of your company and ID cards. This question of 'values' was posed at the final day of the Power of Youth summit in Delhi. POY is a not for profit enterprise, devoted to inspire a more sustainable global economy, through the collaboration of young entrepreneurs. I was a part of the discussion on the final day and took away some learnings worth sharing.

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Entrepreneurs at POY[/caption]According to sociology, values are the ideals, customs or institutions towards which a group of people have affective regard. And the same goes in case of a company. In the early stages, it is especially important to nail down on some values and hold on to them. "It is very important to have these values as an inherent part of your nature," says Adam Purvis, founder and director of POY.

One of the entrepreneurs at the summit shared a very practical method to come down and settle upon a few values for your startup. The situation had come to a point in his organization where there was too much focus on sales and commissions. This can have a very negative impact on the company as a whole. This is what they did to derive upon the values:

First of all, you as a founder should jot down some values you personally relate to and believe that are ideal for the company as well. Then there are multiple lists available on the net about the values which will help you create a grand list. From this, rethink some of the values you've already mentioned and derive upon a short list.

The next step is to hand out a sheet of the grand list to all the team members. Ask each one to circle out the values they connect to the most in general and take in the feedback from this group exercise. Find the overlaps with more weight to the founders value and derive upon about 3 values.

In the entrepreneurs case, they were: growth & development, integrity and happiness & joy. When they started focusing on these, the negativity kind of moved away and things got back on track.

It is important that every employee understands why those values are put out on the walls. The connect should be there and everyone on the team should be able to relate to those values. They might sometimes just seem like a list of words but when they've really come from the heart and are something the group really believes in, it can work wonders. Different techniques can work for different startups, do share if there's anything that has worked for you.


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