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Hugh Stearns

Hugh Stearns

The gurus of company culture often say that a company should limit the number of values that it focuses on to three. There is wisdom in that advice. It is much easier to keep three things in mind than it is more. But culture is a complicated fabric woven of many threads. While it is impossible to articulate all of the threads that go into creating a complex culture, in order to capture the hue and texture of this rich fabric, it is necessary to have a wider sampling than just three.

  • Caring – Caring is a large part of what drives connection in life. We connect to things that we care about. This can be family, design, clients, building science or almost anything else. Indifference is uninteresting and disconnected. A culture can help encourage and sustain caring. We have a caring culture.
  • Honesty – There are very few people who would characterize themselves as dishonest, yet there is a wide spectrum among people in this category, which means that we all tend to define honesty a little differently. We seek a common, well defined and high standard of honesty. To achieve this we view honesty more as a verb than a noun. It is something that we do more so than something that we are. Often honesty gets set at the low bar of ‘not telling falsehoods.’ This low bar allows for the withholding of information or providing misleading information. We do not consider this to be honest. But it is all too easy to unintentionally provide misleading information. This is why we must take an active role in looking hard at everything that we do from the perspective of others.   It is not uncommon for us to have an “ethics check” that is a group discussion on the fine line that sometimes exists between too much information and being misleading. We have a culture of actively engaged honesty.
  • Learning – Constant learning is essential in our ever changing world. If learning is seen as a burden this can encumber a company. There is a stereotype that the construction industry is rough around the edges and benighted.   All too often that stereotype is born out with statements like, “that’s the way we have always done it,” as a reason to resist change. We have a culture that relishes learning.
  • Engagement – Some may see this expression as redundant. I mean, isn’t being engaged a synonym for being active? Not necessarily. As an example, listening is a very important kind of engagement. But it is what we actively do with what we hear that determines our ability. We are a team that is actively engaged with each other, with our clients and other stakeholders.
  • Quality – We differentiate ourselves to the degree that we provide quality. Through all of these values we seek to provide quality in everything we do. This includes quality of life.
  • Connection – Our company is about building connections on many levels. We week to form lasting relationships with our clients. Our approach to design, which we all Transition, is focused on creating connection beyond the building into the natural and community environment. We know from replicated studies that people who have these connections are happier than those who do not. It is this idea that gives rise to our tag line: “We Design and Build Happiness.”
  • Empathy – The golden rule says to “do to other as you would have them do to you.” This is a basic concept of many religions, but we take exception to it. We have the platinum rule, which says, “do to others, as they would have you do to them.” We are each unique and we deserve to be treated as such. Perhaps we do not take our shoes off at the front door of our own house but if our clients do, then that is what we should do when we are at their home. We work for people with many different ethnic, religious and life style backgrounds. And we work to treat them all with the respect and dignity that they deserve.
  • Stewardship – We are stewards of many things including our selves, each other, this company, client relationships, our community and the environment.
  • Fun– Life should be fun.