I Thought Company Values Were Bullshit Until Solid Proved Me Wrong

The first time I was acquainted with Wisembly’s five core values was before I even joined the team to work on our newest app, Solid. It only took a few interviews for Romain, our CEO, to present them to me in details, and the rationale behind each. He added that everything Wisembly –and Solid does is engrained in these five mottos.

He wasn’t lying. As I’ve been head down working on growing Solid, I kept on reflecting on these values. What struck me is how they fit with this new product as well as they fit with Wisembly. And I’d bet they’d apply to any future product or idea we will work on in the future. Here’s why.

We let our values come to us

Some companies fall into the trap of believing that just having values is enough. As I researched, I found that most criticism on company values stems from two main failures: the failure from managers to live by these values, and forcing the values as a top-down approach.

They should also be resilient, and ultimately should hold true as the company scales, or even as its products or strategy changes.

So, company values will more likely fit your culture and goals if they come from a collaborative effort that includes, if not all team members, at least enough voices to accurately represent employees. So this is what we did:

In April 2014, Wisembly’s three founders proposed the Gambit project: workshop including all team members (then 15, far from the 40 we are today), divided into three teams. The goal was to find a tagline, as well as five values with a few caveats: no generic terms allowed (who wants to hold a flag that says “we’re innovative” these days?), and adjectives/nouns that not only define us, but that we can truly own.

For example, one of the teams isolated 5 keywords as values: Trustworthy, Agile, Collaborative, Transparent, Pioneering.

Then, they came up with this suggested baseline: Open Thinking. The two other teams went in a similar direction with suggestions related to collaborating on opinions, which became our chosen Ideas are Everywhere.

How Wisembly’s Company Values Relate to Solid

Open the Way - We’re not afraid to move into unthreaded territory. With Solid, we constantly have to test things out and adjust our strategy accordingly.

Think Big, Get Big - We want to answer one of the last untapped areas of improvement for companies in their management: meetings. It’s a big challenge to take, and we won’t succeed if our vision is too narrow.

Clients, not Customers - Our clients are our equals. As they use Solid every day, they are in the best place to know what works and what doesn’t for them. Their feedback helps us improve, every day.

Work Hard, Play Hard - No matter what you’re doing, fully commit to it.

We are Wisembly - We move together as a team. We collaborate on projects even if they don’t advance our own, personal objectives.

What values are for anyway

In the startup space, a few have elected company values and show them transparently to the public. Buffer and Percolate are two examples, with Buffer being a champion for transparency initiatives.

But values aren’t just a “nice-to-have”. As they figure at the center of your startup’s culture, they’re a basis to facilitate key decisions, such as hiring. Johanne, our HR manager, says that Wisembly’s values help her more accurately assess if candidates are a good fit or not.

“Clients not Customers is a big one to look out for when scouting business developers. We met with candidates who embraced aggressive selling methods which simply isn’t what we want to be associated with.” - Johanne Goulet, HR, Wisembly

That is just one example where values come into play. As we grow Solid, they’ll remain at the forefront of everything we do, from listening to our users, to onboarding new ones as we move forward. If you’re eager to try out Solid, sign up for our beta!

I’d love to hear about your workplace values. Share your story in the comment or reach out to me @thibautdavoult.