Our second episode of the Founded and Funded podcast features the founder and CEO of Amperity. Amperity works with brands like Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, MGM Resorts, Gap, Planet Fitness, and Brooks Running to help them understand their customers. The company launched in fall of 2017 and from the beginning was purposeful about their company culture. Shannon Anderson, Madrona’s Director of Talent, talks to Kabir Shahani about the process they used to develop their values amongst the founding team and how they have kept it updated over the last two years of growth.
Listen below or on any of your favorite platforms and let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this year, when Amperity moved into a new space, they created a book about their story and that book inspired this podcast (which is not available on Amazon – you have to join the company to get one).
Kabir talks about creating and living a company culture, what he has learned as a manager and CEO about management, and the romance of being a creator and entrepreneur. One of the elements Amperity’s team used to create their initial set of values was a personal philosophy document. Below is the process that Shannon Anderson uses with our new companies who are not looking to spend a lot of time thinking about these big topics.
This should take only 1 hour. If you take longer, you are over-analyzing.
Step 1: Pull together everyone from your founding team for one hour. Set the time. Each person works silently to write down six single word adjectives that reflect your personal values at work (how you personally like to work with your team and your customers, how you like to get things done, and the behaviors you value in working with others). (10 minutes)
Step 2: Each person writes each of their adjectives on a sticky note. Paste all the sticky notes on a common wall. (5 minutes)
Step 3: Step back as a team. Reflect on what you see and then collaborate. Do a values sort, refining all the sticky notes into six categories of adjectives. Invent a new adjective, as needed, to reflect the meaning of the collection. These are your company’s six core values. (10 minutes)
Step 4: For each of the six core values write down the signals and noise. Signals are “what this behavior looks like in action”. Draw these signals from the adjectives in step 3, and from people in your life who model this attribute. Noise is not necessarily the opposite of signals but are sometimes confused with signals. For example, someone who is unwavering, dogmatic, inflexible might be mistaken for passionate and committed. Or, too much of a signal (works hard, simplifies and gets things done) might be noise (works hard, creates complexity or works on the wrong things). Again, pull from the model of real people in your life where you have seen noise that looks like signal. (20 minutes)
Step 5: Thread this language into your everyday meetings, performance reviews, interviews. Hold each other accountable and demand that everyone behaves congruently with these values in good times or they will not serve you when the going gets rough.