Forget Mission, Vision, Company Culture or Company values. Principles are the answer.
In the year 2017, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference held by iMatch and Mini, called NewCo, which has the following intention:
NewCo connects people with business through events, media, and unique partnerships. It identifies, celebrates and connects the engines of positive change in society.
I decided to bring a theme to this speech that has been following me since the creation of Angry Ventures – What is the Angry Ventures?
First things first. To provide some context, 2013 was the year when I began to have the intention of creating a new organization – the one that today we call Angry Ventures.
What do smart people do when they want to do something, but they don’t really know what or how to do it? Exactly. I went to Google. And I asked it:
The first Aha! moment
But later on, I thought to myself: I’m smarter than that. And what do smarter people do? They go to Google, just like the others, but they improve their question:
And, suddenly, I had my first Aha Moment! In order to create a “good” company, we just need to create a company with a “company culture” model. The answer is here, I know. Well, let’s take a look at this!
Perfect. It’s not that hard. I have “tips” and “steps” – there is a lot of information about this. It seems easy enough.
By the way, which link do you think I chose? The first or the second? Of course, it was the second one – 6 steps are faster than 8 steps. Let’s go! More Google:
I copied everything that there was to copy, and voilà! I created a business with a company culture. I continued to read more and more about the theme and I was amazed by the stories I was told. Wow, having a company culture really does make the difference. That thing about a company culture is truly the bee’s knees. Why don’t other organizations have or create one?
The issue is, as everything new that we learn, that we dive into the layers of that knowledge and we realize that, in this case, some things don’t match. There are loose ends; for example, I was the only one who defined this company culture. To sell an idea that we “had” a company culture. To sell the idea that we have a company culture.
Suddenly, after re-reading a book written by Simon Sinek, everything changed. In “Start with Why”, Simon states that “Your company doesn’t have a culture”.
I was shocked. What now? I thought I had found the bee’s knees and all of a sudden am I a fraud? Is Angry Venture a fraud? Was what I sold a fraud? Exactly.
The truth is that we don’t have a company culture. We are the company culture. It’s not a target or a rule. It’s a consequence. It’s the difference between having and being. First, we have to be, and only after, as a consequence, will we have.
“Your company doesn’t have a culture. It is a culture” Simon Sinek
Aha Moment! What now? What do I do? What should I hold on to?
Again, by imitation, I did what smart people do. Google:
And suddenly, I find a common denominator through my research. Values.
Again, what did I do? Let’s go and copy some more.
FM, in the year 2015: Guys, what Angry Ventures has, after all, is values. I have been doing some research and many companies use them to be “good organizations”. Have a look at these examples:
In 2015, we also made our Angry Book to celebrate this discovery.
Cool? It is. We copied the idea from Facebook’s Red Book:
Bee’s Knees? Better. With this discovery we felt like (or at least, I felt like) we had discovered the gunpowder.
Great! We don’t need to think about this anymore. We have the Angry Book, we can consider this matter adjourned.
Why? I read this:
“Companies don’t have values.”
Fock! Fock! Fock! We were done with this subject. What now?
“Companies don’t have values. People do.” Ben Horowitz
Suddenly, we started to question all values and we realized that, in fact, in our opinion, they don’t have any value. We concluded that companies don’t have values, but people do. And the organization is the set of people.
And truth be told, values don’t tell me what to do. They don’t help me to make decisions or take actions. They don’t help me to make a decision if we are in a deadlock. They are stationary. And nobody wants to stay still. Everything that stops, dies. Nothing that is staunched grows.
More than that, I also started realizing that if we need to declare something, it’s because nobody notices it. If you need to proclaim it, it doesn’t show. And that was what we did with values. We stated that we were transparent, among other things. The truth is that declaring isn’t enough. We have to take action.
For example: how can an organization with 600 people have a value such as transparency? For some people, that value can be real, but it isn’t for all 600 people. Furthermore, what is transparency for each one of these 600 people? Will it be the same? Can people have different definitions for the same value? There are certainly people who can incorporate some of these values more easily than others.
Fock. So, if we don’t have a company culture, or values, what do organizations have? What should they have?
Man, I have 2 inches of a forehead. I am smart, right?
And what do smart people do? You already know! Great! Google:
This time Google couldn’t help. Nor could Google Panda algorithm, or Hummingbird, Google algorithm – nothing.
Suddenly, in 2016 something new happened in my life. Through Luis Martins Simões, I found out what principles are. Fundamental Principles.
And still that year, I re-read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, launched in 1987. All of a sudden everything was clearer – at least from my point of view.
What are principles?
Stephen Covey defines principles as lighthouses that govern the progress and the happiness of human beings, as natural laws that interlace and form the social fabric of all the civilized communities found in History. They cover the roots of every institution and family that survive and prosper.
On the other hand, in 2017, Ray Dalio launched a very interesting book, changing everything inside Angry Ventures and also defining what principles are:
“Principles are what allow you to live a life consistent with those values. Principles connect your values to your actions.”
The main catalyst of this finding was Luis Martins Simões. His definition is stronger than my opinion because it’s based on the etymological roots of the word. A principle is what’s done first and produces results. PRINCIPLE – from the Latin word principium, “origin, near cause, beginning”, from primus, “what comes before”, from the Greek word prin, with the same meaning.
Always from the inside to the outside.
And that was how, not wanting to discover more gunpowder, by consequence we found out what – among everything – we would like to be. We wanted to be what each person is – with the values carried by each one – and with the set of principles practiced by each individual who helps us to be what we are, as a group. Those who make us what we are today and whom, in case of a dead end, we count on to keep going on our way. The idea isn’t declaring. It is practicing. If we need to preach something, it’s because no one can see it.