A number of years ago we gathered to determine what our values as a team are at Stearns Design Build. It is advised that companies identify those things that are central to who they are, that are most important. So we set about doing that. We created a list of many possible values. We discarded those that were not fairly central and those that we did not feel defined who we actually are. In the end we had 9. They were:

  1. Caring
  2. Honesty
  3. Learning
  4. Engagement
  5. Quality
  6. Connection
  7. Empathy
  8. Stewardship
  9. Fun

Now, you are only “supposed” to have four or five. But, I reasoned, we are a rather complex company doing complex work so we need to have more core values to focus our efforts.

After a few years I now know that I was wrong. When you have 9 stated values, they become a blur. This is not to say that we do not hold all of those values, only that we must bring our focus through fewer of them.

So we came back together to further distill our core values. Here is what we came up with:

  1. Quality
  2. Caring
  3. Honesty
  4. Relationship

We found that many of our discarded values could be defined within the context of those we kept. For example we are stewards of community and the environment because we are caring and because these are relationships that we value. We learn because we care. The one value that mostly dropped away is fun. We do state that within the concept of quality, there is no quality more important than quality of life. Certainly fun is an important function of quality of life. Nonetheless, we take our work pretty seriously, which can, at times, have a negative impact on the fun factor. So I am torn.

A couple of questions for you:

Do you think that we should return fun to our core values?

If you had to pick only four values to define and focus yourself, what would they be?