We’re now a couple years into growing Fahren and we’ve got a real business. We’ve got the first quarter of our 2020 plan squared away and we’re just a one deal away from getting the second quarter into the “win” zone. We’ve got people calling us with projects, an important milestone. It’s gone so fast!
As founders, Joe and I are moving into intentional “company building” mode. Since the beginning, we’ve been conscious of the split between working in the business – billing, doing the client roles – while working on the venture: building processes, systems, etc. Frankly, we’ve been heavily focused on the former but that’s starting to change as we work on the business more intentionally:
- Clarifying how we position Fahren
- Refining who we see as our target audience
- Listening to the market to see if we’re still offering the right things
- Working on how we communicate with each other at Fahren
The thing that’s tying it all together is the set of values we put together in the fall. It’s probably the most important thing we’ll work on, the thing that will make all the other things go:
- We’re consciously referring to them when we’re making decisions
- We’re using them to guide our interactions with each other so each interaction helps us get better
- We’re being explicit about them when we collaborate on projects
- We’re using them to help us determine which projects we want to take on and which consultants we want to work with.
Ultimately, we are using them to help us get better each day by learning by and with each other.
I think a lot of companies do the work to develop their values, but i wonder how many firms put the values to the test in the mix of day to day work. It’s hard to make them real, to actually mean something.
I’ve seen some companies get it right. The culture of GoKart Labs was exceptional before i joined because of their full commitment to the values and the strong advocacy from the CEO on down. It meant the difference between a “typical” culture and a great one. We weren’t perfect, but everyone at GoKart knew the values were our secret weapon and a tool for us all to use. The team knew the values could make the business different and better.
We Want to Be Different, and Better
We already know we’re trying to pioneer a new business model for ourselves, our consultants and our clients and that will be it’s own challenge. A company like the one we’re building will require a set of guidelines for making decisions, dealing with disagreements, navigating cloudy situations and delivering great work for our clients.
Our plan is to use the Fahren values aggressively to build a different kind of company.
When i look 10 years out into the future, i envision a gathering, a party, where the Fahren team and everyone that’s ever worked at Fahren gets together to check in and celebrate progress. I hope there will be dozens (hundreds?) of people who have built successful consulting practices, doing the best work of their lives. I’m excited about the work, about the client outcomes. But, I hope we’ll hear about the way our values helped people grow as leaders and as humans. We aspire to be the kind of place where you can do meaningful work in a high integrity way and i believe our values will get us there.
But, for now, we’re still in start up mode and the culture building phase is underway. I see us working on our values for the next couple years as we bring more people into the fold and we road test them. We’ll each work on making them “stick” in the culture, and because we’re all aiming high and are committed to getting better together, we’ll help each other apply them understand them by measuring ourselves against them.
That’s what it means for us to build the culture as we work on the business: Aim high, helping each other get better, together, every day.