On Culture, Values, & Greatness
As the promise and potential of a new year begins to take shape, it is a natural time for reflections on why we do what we do and in addition, the values we seek to uphold at CoLab and with the projects we collaborate on.
One value core to our culture is excellence. Wikipedia has an interesting edit at the moment that states:
“In modern public relations and marketing, “excellence” is a much overused buzzword that tries to convey a good impression often without imparting any concrete information…
So true, but so not what we are going for here. We’ve started a list in fact, of what being excellent at CoLab means:
We work together.
We help those in need.
We listen deeply.
We communicate clearly.
We stay focused.
We ask pivotal questions.
We honor our word.
We share resources.
We respond quickly to urgent matters.
We finish what we start.
We get things right the first time.
We deliver things on time, as promised.
We strive for greatness by minding the details.
We never stop learning.
We share what we learn.
We nurture contemplative practices.
We are open and honest.
We care for the earth.
We invest in local communities.
We choose love over fear.
Hopefully this paints a picture of standards we measure ourselves by.
With consistent self-awareness and an unceasing commitment to excellence comes the condition of possibility for greatness.
We strive for nothing less than greatness in our work as we believe it is only through shared greatness — achieved by working together — that our planet and society shall be transformed for the betterment of all.
As you might gather from the topic of this post, we’ve been thinking a fair bit about greatness this week. This has been fueled by our first official coop membership manual nearing completion, the amazing international team of rockstar developers that have blossomed in 2013 and an inspiring talk I stumbled upon from Keith Yamashita of SYPartners.
Keith talks about greatness in the context of teams, organization culture and the ability to help others. I had to pick Rylan’s (CoLab co-founder) jaw up off the floor as he watched this video as we had yet to find a peer technology consulting organization where we felt a sincere alignment of values, talent, culture and ethics that harmonizes with our own. (If you know of others, please do hit us up on twitter @colabcoop ... This seems an appropriate place for a shout out to LIFT our much appreciated partner in seeding a culture of collaboration and cooperation in the world. )
Keith further notes that we often think of greatness as the solo effort of an individual, where in reality, the greatest accomplishments are done in ensemble as by working together we can remove blocks and see things that the other does not see. The most fundamental unit of an ensemble to Keith is the duo — the pair.
One of our Colabrs, Tomaž, puts it this way when speaking of pair programming, “It is magic because there is no way 2 coders are looking at one thing the same way, so there are 2 dimensions of thought on the same problem. The unity of those dimensions = the perfect combination.”
The first rule of creating a perfect duo is "know thy self."
Paraphrasing Keith here, he defines greatness as the act of being courageous enough to be yourself, fully and then surrender:
"Surrender to an ambition you share with others and go change the world."
Knowing thyself fully means knowing the natural gifts (aka superpowers) you can bring to a team, project or situation. Springing forth from these gifts is a higher purpose, in the form of ambition or goals that are packed with the potential to achieve greatness.
For us at CoLab the ambition is to change the world, and thus we define greatness as the act of being courageous enough to be ourselves, truly, and then offering this gift in the form and superpowers in surrendered service to changing the world for the better — as a team.
Here’s to making 2014 the greatest it can be.