We’ve had an informal set of core values since I started this business nearly 14 years ago, and they really haven’t changed.  As we continue to grow, it’s critical for us to provide a consistent contextual framework, clarity and guidance across the organization as to the behaviors and actions that are expected and rewarded at W2O Group companies.  By formalizing and codifying our values, which must remain genuine and authentic to our organization, and backing them up operationally, they can serve as a critical filter for how we choose and evaluate both talent and business.

We strive to be the best in the business and want to be well known for our approach.  We seek to stay at the forefront of and continue to innovate in marketing and communications, and that means pushing us into new, sometimes uncomfortable territory.  It means staying scrappy and not worrying about hierarchies.  It means staying open to what’s possible and adapting to change – mastering the art of the pivot.

Ultimately, we are in this business to partner with our clients to enhance their businesses.  Clients are at the center of our world, and everything we do is in service to them.

Accordingly, our values tie back to providing the best client service possible by fostering an environment that supports that – meaning we create the space for ideation, knowledge sharing, collaboration, partnership and mutual experimentation – what we like to call pragmatic disruption of the status quo.   And, above all, we do everything we can to get the job done and done well and with total integrity.  We do what we say we are going to do . . . every time.

Value: Make it Happen 

If we were on a desert island and had only one value, this would probably be it – it’s about getting the job done for our customers and our colleagues with no excuses or caveats.  It’s simple.  And if barriers are slowing you down or holding things up, it is expected you will raise your hand, respectfully step on some toes and work diligently to solve and deliver.  This value speaks directly to our individual and mutual sense of urgency, doing what we promise and the power of perseverance.

#MakeItHappen from WCG on Vimeo.

Behaviors – Act with purpose and good intention, do what you say you will do, be scrappy and fail fast, breakdown silos and hierarchies

Value: Deal With It

We’ve been through extreme bouts of change over the past few years in terms of significant growth, innovation, evolution of business priorities and integration of services and teams.  But there are some things that will never change – including our commitment to excellent client service and best in class work.  In order to thrive in our marketplace, we have to be nimble and flexible – even as a mid-size organization, and that means change is inevitable.  People here do best when they “know thyself,” act and think like owners, take responsibility for their own career path and trajectory, can handle ambiguity, and who adapt to their environment to produce optimal outcomes for our colleagues and our clients.  To be clear this value does not mean “tolerate it” — especially at any cost — but rather get in the line of fire, pivot with the changes, hit the key issues or activities head on and get to solutions and resolution always versus grinning (with cold teeth) and bearing it or worse yet hating it.

#DealWithIt from WCG on Vimeo.

Behaviors – Get comfortable with change and adapt, leverage the diversity and blended expertise of your colleagues, be resourceful in approach and developing solutions

Value: Why Suck?

This goes hand-in-hand with “Make it Happen” because what’s the point of getting the job done if it’s not done well?  We’re not always perfect, but we should strive to provide the best product possible and deliver with flawless execution – always.  I have a nameplate on my desk in the office that says, “A+ or Nothing” and that motto still motivates me, but I also don’t let it stop us from growing and scaling.  To Become the Best, mistakes will happen and the route home can be circuitous.  As long as communications are clear and transparent and expectations are set with your clients and colleagues, slightly less than perfect can often be the perfect solution.

#WhySuck from WCG on Vimeo.

Behaviors – Follow your instincts and talent to achieve awesome outcomes, provide clients with epic work; strive to wow, be accountable to your clients and teammates and own the outcome

Value: Let’s Hang

Collaboration and camaraderie allows us to produce the best possible work for our clients, and that’s what this is all about.  It’s the reason we invest in experiences that bring our teams together outside the office – so that our people can share information and learn from one another.  Our direct communication style sets us apart from other organizations.  I discourage my team from withholding feedback; people deserve to receive timely and constructive feedback so they can improve.  We intend to create an environment of mutual coaching, responsibility and accountability and one where we are helping each other to succeed in the best interests of our clients and our collective self.

#LetsHang from WCG on Vimeo.

Behaviors – Collaborate with colleagues and clients to innovate, learn constantly from your colleagues and on your own, share what you learn for collective knowledge and growth, coach your colleagues

Value: No A**holes

I do believe it’s all one Web and one community:  Clients, Channel Partners, Consultants or Colleagues.  We live in an increasingly small world and the way we treat others – especially one another — will be remembered and comes with requisite consequences, good and bad.  In terms of behaviors, I recognize it is aspirational to “leave your ego at the door.”  It takes a lot of ambition and drive to come in and do what we do every day, and we should honor that.  But the way we show up for each other every day is really important, and we need to recognize that it’s not about “Moi.”  It’s about “we” and our clients. People should want to be here; we don’t want anyone here who has to be here or is here for the wrong reasons – making everyone miserable including themselves.  We have low to no tolerance for A**holes here, at our clients and with partners, so if direct communications and coaching doesn’t work to rectify it, then seek help from management to resolve it.  See also #ChooseHappiness.

#NoAholes from WCG on Vimeo.

Behaviors – Treat teammates with respect and expect the same treatment in return, we’re all here because we want to be here, leave your ego at the door

Value: Choose Happiness

It’s all a matter of choice:  The way you approach your work, the way you react to challenges, interact with colleagues and clients, friends and family.  We must encourage and create the space for creativity, innovation and work that really wows our clients and the industry.  While we expect full presence of mind and total engagement from the entire team, we encourage you to do so in the spirit of “get it done” optimism and aplomb that inspires and motivates versus pessimism and fear-driven directives that shut people down.  Let’s assume all of us have the best intentions at heart and in mind.  And that every member of the team is showing up and playing to win on behalf of themselves, their colleagues and, above all, our clients.  Only by working together and collaborating with a positive attitude and best intentions toward one another — while still pushing each other to do their best — will we produce the best work and outcomes.  Instead of sniping, complaining or cutting people down, let’s coach each other to play our best and get to the solutions and great work and work experience we all came here for.

#ChooseHappiness from WCG on Vimeo.

Behaviors – Remain curious and open to what’s possible, create the space for inspiration and creativity, step up and engage

I believe these six values and associated behaviors support our Integrity as a business and our goal to Become the Best.  Let’s keep it real, always.  And let’s own and take pride in who we are instead of apologizing for or compromising on it.  Let’s “bleed orange” together.

I want to thank all of you across the organization for helping us to define and articulate our values more concretely.  Many are core tenets that I’ve been talking about since Day 1 and really serve as the backbone of this organization. I was gratified, but not all that surprised frankly, to see that W2O Group’s teams not only agreed with these key tenets as being authentic to our organization, but also as important motivators for individuals when they thought of what attracted them and what has kept them here.

As we evolve, grow and scale and more new people enter the company, some of what got us here is exactly what we need to reinforce and use as a filter for hiring, selecting clients and retaining talent to truly Go.Ahead.

What’s your Why?  Why Matters.  What value do you identify most with? What experiences have you had recently that tie back to one of these?  Share your views in upcoming Town Halls, on the web and soon in our video competition – more details to come on that.