I wrote about how we use our core values recently, and it dawned on me that one of them is most important. It feeds to the rest of them. Without this one, you're going to have a hard time with the others at Foojee.
Our most important core value is Create Calm. (We don't always capitalize it obvs.) It's always been a vibe that I've enjoyed at previous jobs, or inversely the reason why I left. The reason I think it's most important is because many of our conversations with outsiders about why we do certain things always come back to, "well it's because we're trying to create calm". Like when we tell them we don't have weekly quotas for hours or tickets worked, and still earn a healthy profit. It usually takes a couple of question-and-answer ping pongs, but eventually the root reason we do what we do is because we want to create calm. For us, and for our clients. Here are some examples, and reasons why we want to create calm.
The impact of creating calm
- We don't put due dates on a lot of our work. Outside of a guaranteed response time to our clients, we fight the urge to create arbitrary expectations in projects. We know that trying to please them with a fast turnaround on a project is causing unnecessary stress. Most people are fine with "in the next couple of weeks". Ah. Calm.
- We don't use Slack or Teams, and we have no way of knowing who is present RIGHT NOW. Why? Because it's not necessary, we want to create calm.
- We rarely work past 5pm. And you're probably not ever going to experience a director or team member messaging you questions at 8pm. Why don't we just send that question now? It's fine. It can wait until tomorrow. We like to have a calm work environment.
- We encourage posting company ideas and questions as long form messages/emails rather than our group chat. Why? Because we want to create calm and give everyone a chance to sit with the ideas and reflect.
- We take projects slow, document as we work, communicate effectively to all parties. Why? It creates calm, while reducing human error, and keeps expectations clear with our clients.
The important reality about this core value, like any good value, is that it's a behavior, not an ideal. To uphold this value means to make intentional decisions daily to create calm. We have to defend it. But when we defend it, the work (and the team) is better for it.
It's easy to ask for things now. Or to say yes to the client for tomorrow. But the consequence is you just added an arbitrary timeline to multiple people's workday, that was unplanned for. It's more difficult to slow it down, and empathize with your team and clients, and allow for margin. But more often than not, the result of margin is a better project, clearer decision, and a energetic team.
Evaluating team members with this value
Your ability to create calm supersedes your background, your belief system, or your career performance. For our new hires, it takes time for them to believe that we actually "create calm". Sounds impossible!
They almost always have to unlearn the hustle mindset that their previous jobs demanded. So we're patient, and have to put up guardrails for new team members so they don't overwork themselves, or demand unreasonable timelines. But after a year or so, we can see if they embody this value or not.
Inversely, if other values aren't being met, they are likely not creating calm. This value has given us definition of a gut feeling that we didn't have before, and has helped us identify when things aren't right.
Creating calm. It creates context for every other value we want to see in our company.