Value of Values
Metal Toad is a values based business. I’m not sure if this makes us unique within the software developer community but it does make us an outlier within the organizations that I’ve worked for over the years.
It’s become en vogue for organizations large and small to establish a set of corporate, ‘values’. In days gone past values were typically focused on corporate responsibility and share holder value. Times have changed. Today, when someone mentions corporate values they are often referring to people. Or more specifically, how the organization treats their employees, customers and vendors. However, in both cases, the written values often differ from the set of values that are lived. This delta, between ‘lived values’ and ‘espoused values’ is highly relevant when it comes to the real performance of your business over the long haul. We know this through numerous examples, the most notorious of which were Enron’s; Communication. Respect. Integrity. Excellence. Clearly espoused, not so much lived.
Metal Toad’s values are as follows:
Rather than repeating the information on Metal Toad’s website I want to tell you a story. Recently, I was on a sales call with a large corporate client, the client was looking to replace a piece of aging technology infrastructure and was considering a variety of paths. Most sales teams approach a situation like this with an ideal, ‘solution’ that most often benefits the, “solution provider.” This self dealing approach ensures maximum profit for the business entity while still getting (usually) a desired outcome for the client. However, in consulting with my CEO, I was told that wasn’t the way Metal Toad did things. I was taken aback and he could tell. ‘Jonathan, my goal is to be the most helpful I can be to our clients.’
His solution meant less money in our pocket, but a much better outcome for our client, or as my colleague put it, “It’s not a principle until it costs you money.” which I found highly insightful. Later, when were able to discuss the situation in more detail our CEO’s rationale was simple. “If we are truly trusted advisors, over the long term we will generate more work.” This approach is both slow and expensive, trust and relationships are not built overnight. But they also speak to a foundational structure that places critical path emphasis on long-term success over short term profiteering.
I’ve also seen our values come into play in other critical moments in the organization. When you empower your team to be, ‘curious’ as a core principle you’re encouraging them to look proactively into the future. As technologists it is our job to help our clients navigate an increasingly complex technological landscape...or maybe, ‘cloudscape’ is more appropriate, but in either case by making curiosity an organizational value and ensuring it’s, ‘lived’ not just ‘espoused’ means our team members glean new solutions and approaches before the competition. As an example, we’re currently working on a headless, AWS supported CMS system that will eliminate middle-ware completely. This type of back-end innovation will save our clients both time and money.
If you work in technology, I encourage you to understand the value system of your organization and if you’re evaluating vendors, make sure you ask if they have one. It will bring more, ‘value’ to your projects, relationships and outcomes.