Core Value Fitness

Before we dive into Core Values, understand this: there are only three types of business people.

  1. 0.0: My business is just fine, thank you very much. Mission, vision, values, and culture? Did your mom not hug you enough? GET BACK TO WORK.
  2. Planet Fitness:  We bought into the concept of company mission and culture for a couple of weeks. We wrote our mission statement and promptly put it in a nice binder on a shelf where it is decomposing like the Planet Fitness sticker on my car.
  3. Crossfit:  Dude, you HAVE to try missionvisionvaluesandculture! OMG, you’re not going to believe how awesome our company culture is! You should totally do this! My core values are absolutely ripped bro!

Several years after our founding we committed our core values to paper. We meant well, we really did. Each core value had a very nice bullet list of descriptions. The list, which nobody could quote, promptly went into a binder and onto a bookshelf to collect dust. On special occasions, we’d pull them out and dust them off like an archaeologist would a clay pot. They served a purpose for a hot minute in history and no longer hold water.

We didn’t see the light until I was introduced to “business Crossfit”, years of membership in Entrepreneurs’ Organization and reading the book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman. At this point, it’s probably instructive to reveal Keystone’s core values to you, a very important part of “business Crossfit!”

core values example

MASTER THE CRAFT

At Keystone, we know mastery is a living, breathing thing that cannot be caught. Mastery is perpetually chased. The very moment you think you’re at the top of your game is the time you inevitably have the opportunity to start over or learn something new.

Mike and I were having a conversation about mastery many years ago. “It would be much easier to be a doctor than an IT consultant,” he said. “Huh? How’s that?” I replied.

“It’s easy, the human body hasn’t changed substantially in 10,000 years. There will be a new version of Windows Server, Exchange, and Office next month. And the human body will be the same.” Checkmate, doc.

Our industry never stops changing. There is no “normal.” It’s like Nashville weather; don’t like it? Stick around…it’s about to change. The moment we think we have it all figured out, the landscape of office technology, the Internet, and marketing has morphed into something new. What worked last year is…sooo last year. The moment you decide to stop learning and simply ‘work’ is the moment you can point to the beginning of the end. For that reason, we seek continuous improvement, growth, mastery, the next big thing. Call it what you want…but if we don’t change with the times and offer the products and services the business world demands, we’ll be out of business.

MAKE IT BETTER

At Keystone, we “Make it Better.” We listen carefully, ask the right questions, display empathy, and maintain an open mind asking “What more can I do?” to meet the goal, provide the right solutions, and do the job right the first time.

Keystone understands that you didn’t go to dental school to learn the ins-and-outs of managing a business-class computer network. You didn’t start your company or nonprofit with the expectation that you’d become a marketing expert. You want to ‘do what you do.’ But the moment you’ve embraced one of the toughest parts of the American Dream – starting a business – you become responsible for everything.

As IT consultants and digital marketing practitioners, we’re confident that we’re making a difference even if it’s not obvious to those watching us work. EVERY business either suffers or thrives at the hands of their marketing and technology.

So our promise to our clients is this:  We will “Make it Better.” Should you choose to let us partner with you, we will bring business solutions that are of great value to your organization. You’ll be more efficient. Your prospects will know your name and understand your value to them. Your employees will have the computer network technology they need to work profitably. Your message will be delivered to the right people for whom you solve problems. Together, we will “Make it Better!”

BE BOLD

“Tell it like it is, give it to me straight.” Nobody ever wants to be misled. Nobody wants misunderstanding in their personal or business lives.

We are polite, professional, realistic, and authentic. We communicate promptly, clearly, and candidly in a respectful manner. We display a positive, helpful attitude, and maintain a healthy sense of humor when the going gets tough.

We could write a book about misinformation and misleading promises in the technology and marketing business. Personally, I believe it usually comes from a good place. The person making the promise says to themselves:  “I can do that…I may not know how to do it, but I can certainly learn it.” Problem is, it might be at the client’s expense. And once theory gives way to reality and the person making the promise is unable to able to deliver, everybody is in a bad spot.

If anything, we’re too cautious about describing what is possible. We once pitched an existing client on a new website. The word that came back is that we weren’t as confident in the presentation as some of our competitors (we won the business.) We draw the line at bragging apparently!

Our philosophy of “Be Bold” comes down to this:  If we “Master the Craft” and are sure we can “Make it Better,” it’s easy to “Be Bold.” If we’re being asked to cut corners or perform a task that we know is unwise, we simply won’t do it. And we’ll tell you why we won’t in as professional and authentic way as we possibly can.

SHARE THE LOAD

I’m a fan of Chaos Theory. According to the chaotic Wikipedia:
Chaos theory is the field of study in mathematics that studies the behavior and condition of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions—a response popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general.
Having operated a small business of some kind for nearly half my life, I’ve gotten used to a fair amount of chaos and its principles. Everyone at Keystone is married, and most of us have children. Anyone reading this who resembles that demographic understands that a day can start one way and end another – a broken arm, an upset stomach, a fender bender – sending your entire day into a tailspin.
Even inside the business, part of our job is to deal with the unforeseen emergencies of crashed servers, infected computers, and printers that just don’t work. So we get it. Things don’t always go according to plan. At Keystone, we’re prepared to do our part for our fellow Keystoners and our clients.

We are loyal to our Keystone family; flexible and ready to help each other. We are ready, willing, and able to do our part to make our shared mission a reality. We treat each other as we would like to be treated. So when the load is still there to be carried, and we’re missing someone for whatever reason, we’ll be there to carry on with the mission and Share the Load.

Your Core Values

Once you have written core values, they become your measuring stick. How you hire, how you get new customers, who those new customers are, how you produce products and services, how you grow, how you manage talent…absolutely everything you do should be viewed through your core values. Our core values are what we expect of everyone; Keystone staff, customers, and vendors.

business core values

What are your company’s core values? Can your employees repeat them? Are you walking the talk? Because we want your business to succeed from the foundation, we’ve been helping companies with their Core Values. If this sounds like the spark that your business needs, reach out to us. We have just the package to help.

 

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