Last year, well into our New Kind adventure, we finally began to seriously think about what New Kind’s core organizational values should be.
Values can be a challenging beast. When done well, they provide a deep well of inspiration and a way to achieve true cultural alignment. But in the wrong hands, they are simply Successories hung in the hallways.
For me, I saw firsthand the power of values done right while at Red Hat, where I was a part of the team (also including my New Kind partner Jonathan Opp) that helped uncover the company values back in 2002.
But even in companies that take their values seriously, the words themselves are often repeated from organization to organization, and it is hard to sustain their meaning and differentiation as an organization grows. How many times have you seen words like innovation, reliability, honesty, teamwork, and integrity show up in corporate values?
We had the idea to do a little experiment. If we were to take a New Kind of approach to organizational values, what might we do differently? How might we we communicate our core beliefs in a fresh way?
We stumbled upon one idea that felt right. Rather than articulate traditional values, we decided to conjure a set of spirits that we could invoke in our work, spirits that could be summoned to guide us, motivate us, and keep us on the right path.
The nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.
The Four Spirits of New Kind
Working off this definition, if a spirit represents the soul of the company, the seat of its emotions and character, what spirits would make up the nonphysical part of New Kind? While the following remains a work in progress, we thought we’d share the four spirits that have emerged from our internal conversations.
To be a part of New Kind means making the commitment to being a constant spark, of ideas, passion, creativity, and excitement. For our customers and their communities this means we provide a continuous feed of energy to their efforts, helping them see new possibilities, find new inspiration, make new connections, and explore new pathways.
We make this same commitment to each other. Being a part of New Kind means committing to inspiring and rejuvenating those around you. Bringing new ideas and approaches to challenge the old, continuously reinventing ourselves and challenging those around us to reinvent themselves as well. If we’re not catalysts for ourselves, we can’t be catalysts for the customers and communities we serve.
We invoke the catalyst spirit when we want to bring energy and passion to other communities and our own.
Many agencies envision themselves in heroic roles, where they are hired to come in and “save” customers through the power of their creativity and ideas. At New Kind our customers and the communities they serve are the heroes. They already have the creativity and ideas they need inside them. We want to share their journey as their partner and sherpa, climbing the mountain together. In many cases, we’ve made the climb before and know a safe route to the top. Our experience and their ideas make a powerful combination and can lead to a result neither could achieve alone.
Internally, we must see ourselves as a team of sherpas. No one should have to carry a dangerously heavy load alone. Sometimes this means proactively offering to lighten the load of a colleague by taking on an extra project. The only way we reach the top of the mountain is by sharing the burdens of the journey as equally as possible.
We invoke the sherpa spirit when we want to bring leadership, hard work, and accountability to other communities and our own.
We think of New Kind itself as a community, and believe one of the greatest services we can provide is as a connector of people. We make it possible for people within organizations to collaborate in ways that weren’t easy or comfortable before. We provide new avenues for organizations to develop deeper cooperative relationships with the communities they serve.
Internally we strive to stay closely connected to each other. We do our best work when the New Kind team works as one—not as individuals attacking problems alone. We will succeed together, as a team, as a community. The energy is in the connected whole.
We invoke the spirit of the connector when we want to bring people together for collaboration, creation, and fellowship.
The relationship we have with our customers is more than a simple transaction of money and services. When we are at our best, we become citizens of the communities we serve, dedicated to ensuring they prosper. There are duties associated with citizenship that sometimes extend beyond a business transaction, but there are also greater rewards.
As citizens of New Kind, this is more than just the place we spend our working hours. We each must play an active role in determining our future direction and ensuring the long-term success of the company. New Kind citizenship means staying vigilantly focused on our long-term purpose, even in the face of daily challenges.
New Kind is also a citizen of the world. Our efforts to achieve our core purpose should make the world better for our presence.
We invoke the citizen spirit when we want to better understand our place and responsibilities in the communities we serve.
There you have it: the four spirits of New Kind. When we are at our best, these spirits are manifest in our work and in our relationships with our customers, our community, and each other.
This is what we see when we look inside, and we hope you can see it too.