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Valuable Marriage

September 22, 2011


Dear Mr. Marcin


Thank you for taking the challenge  and  thank you specially  for your pair-writing.

I think the simplest way to start is by answering to your question:  There’s nothing wrong with those values. Actually their pretty interesting… and I praise the young fellow who came up with those.

  • Integrity is everything
  • Insightful Expertise
  • Service Excellence
  • Inspiring Innovation
  • Each Person counts
  • Results-driven
  • Social responsibility

What a remarkable set of values. I would dare to say they should be in Seth’s  “Purple Cows” or at least in  “99 Cows”.. these are unforgetable aren’t they? Can you repeat them now to me without peeking in lines above?

Of course not. Fancy Bullshit does not mark your mind, nor scratches your intellect. These are still keywords in a paper.  So sorry if these are actually yours values..didn’t meant to insult you, but lets just pick the first one and take a look-

Integrity is everything: what ? what is everything? What do you mean with everything?  If you go to wikipedia the first thing about integrity is that it is a theoretical concept. If this is theorectical can I apply it to real things- Can I make Software with Integrity? Integrity tests maybe? Integrity documents..

Maybe they meant Integrity in everything.

Integrity is like a piece of soul. You can’t see it.  Nor quantify. Nor ask people to create more  soul.  Specially you can0t ask for people to give your evidences of their soul.

Nevertheless you may ask people to use their soul to do things…

I would consider now sould as  the sum of all amazing things your capable of doing, as the sum of all your brightest moments, as the sum of all your  linchpin moments.

So asking people to put their soul in something (or everything) is not possible. I cannot add something to something else if that something is not real, I can on the other hand, use something not real to shape and grow things doing them . Like integrity.

I can use my amount of integrity to do things in a certain way.But not to do things. And even then as  my integrity is different from other’s integrity, how can we have a common ground? What about my level of integrity? this is something that grows along with me, should I say that someone older has more integrity? I mean, we certainly had more chances to grow it than I did.

What is integrity? How can you say the place I work demands me to be something that no one can define? What are you asking me? Maybe you should wirte down: Superpowers are everything.

this would be a great sentence, a sentence everyone would agree and understand. And even if I think that Spitting fire is not a superpower but a stomach disease, it doesn’t matter cause in the end I would actually agree that spitting (fire) is a super power because it’s something almost no one can do. . But Integrity? Everyone has it right? What is a good integrity and a bad integrity? You know it will depend on people, culture, education, mental conditions for some, whatever! So should a Company- a place where people work no matter their gender, education, size, ability to spit fire, religion, whatever- should a company define something so undefinable as integrity? Is it just because if you add it to your list of values, every person (employee, stakeholder, customer,..society) will like to see it, no matter if they don’t know what it is or what it means?

Ok this talk is getting to philosophical. Let me get to the point (for those who survived this first paragraphs)

I Want to Say to you this: You can’t ask people to do something using something else that actually does not exist (at least in this context)

Back in my home town, to swear and explode (not literally)  while having and argument with someone is  normal.  If I shout at you, that means I’m truly committed with your problem and I want to help you. I’m shouting because I want to wake you up to new perspectives and I want you to face the urgency of the problem, as well as give you a high dose of energy. If I shout that means I’m truly on your side, worried with you and your problem. That’s Integrity right?

This is the way people are over there. the way they are educated. Being too cool about stuff or patience  means you don’t care about anything. Kind of walking dead..

Then I moved. I’m working in another town. Portugal is small you know (small in size, big in talented and passionated people)

If,  rather – when, I shout… hum… people think I’m rude. Hysterical. Without Control. Unhuman. (Nowadays they know me and they think I’m just crazy).. the point is: they may believe Integrity is not my thing. But they are wrong. It0s the way I was educated to take care of people. I’m not rude I’m just passioned. I care. I feel things and that’s why I may look like I’m loosing my temper, nut I’m not! I’m just using all my integrity to help you.  Should I change? Would I be lost?  Would I loose part of what actually makes me unique?


But you know, this is not the point. The point Marcin is that adding this things to paper is not the way. Again, is like getting married: it’s not about the paper, is about growing a relation over the years.

All I see are companies adding beautiful keywords to paper, then I wonder: what is being done to achieve these things? Yes, we want people to work with Integrity, but what is that? What is integrity for my company? Is it to be polite or is it to give whatever I’ve got to help someone else?

So the first pain point I see: Companies write keywords, but they should be defining values. (And I mean defining, not creating novels)

Second: Companies demand people to behave according to hollow keywords, they should instead grow values together with those people.

Here I want to refer Jurgen Appelo’s book : Management 3.0 . He actually gives a very good and simple explanation about building or growing things.  Read it. He writes about it while analyzing Self -organized teams, but actually his concept goes beyond this.  And I think it totally applies to Values – like feelings, these are complex things. Maybe one day we can ask him to give his opinion on this.

Third: most basic question actually:  Can a company define values? At least the way they are doing it now. Can they?  Aren’t the people, part of the company, the one’s who should be defining it? Aren’t the vaues of a company the sum of their employees values?

Aren’t we doing the same mistake we try to avoid when we define a Scrum Team Values? Don’t we say: the team should define this not the Scrum Master or line manager or whomever but the team itself. So, what is the difference here?

This was just another perspective. If we get back to the main point: Values don’t just pop up because we write them. We need to grow them. And give people the proper conditions to do so.

My favourite Value: TRUST.

If I, when I! , help creating a company this will be the first one (If I don’t forget it meanwhile :D ) :

TRUST – We trust each other no matter what. When we stop, we leave.

(you can see that the first part is from my current experience in this towns , the second is from my education in my home town)

I guess lots of companies have trust as value. Then we see:

– Performance evaluation

– budgeting

– resource allocation

– Limits of authority

– Lack of transparency

– control

– leveling (power, decision-making, even office size,..)

World has changed, humans are no longer cogs in a factory. Humans are creative minds. Unique beings with something special to give. Why should anyone stop this?

My second value:

BE YOURSELF– That’s why YOU are here and not someone else.

And maybe, just maybe, these values are enough.  Everyone knows what they mean and above all everyone knows how much they are worth fighting for and maintaining. I like to keep  it Simple. Simplicity is everything. More than Integrity.

Whom wouldn’t like to work in such an environment? I would. I want to.

But then there’s this thing I really start getting mad with, something Bjarte’s says: We should n0t do rules using the exceptions.

That’s how companies , with their lack of trust in people, are built.. or better, this is how they grow :)

So,  how can you print fancy words, demand people to follow (and give evidences!!!) and in the end do the opposite?

This one goes back to you Marcin:

How important it is actually, for a company, to write down values? Should they create them ? (using that young brilliant fellow).. or should they write them down, after listening their most precious value: people.

I guess we both understand things don’t happen just because they are written in a paper (else we would n0t have crime), so I wonder how  should companies do this, values are important, but how to grow this in the right way?

How to create a valuable Marriage Mr. Marcin?

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to help these companies and maybe just maybe, be able to change a little bit our world. And who knows? Even saving some marriages!


See ya

Ps: Sorry, this post is a chaos.  Ah my head!  spitting fire…







From → Agile

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