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Why And How We Defined Our Values At Corporate Rebels

Joost Minnaar
Written by Joost Minnaar July 30, 2017

We started Corporate Rebels with the mission to make work more fun. Actively chasing our mission has led to some great things over the past 18 months. In the last few months, our movement for better work started to grow significantly around the globe; we even started to slowly build up our own company as since March this year Freek joined Corporate Rebels on a full-time basis. Many things have happened since, here's a quick overview.

Growing the movement

  • The Corporate Rebels movement kept growing steadily. We surpassed the number of 10.000 monthly unique users on our blog earlier this year and surpassed the 1.500+ newsletter subscribers some months ago. We also welcomed 750+ fellow rebels on our Slack channel to connect and share ideas!
  • We kicked off our Rebel Tour and already had successful events in Eindhoven, Berlin, London, and Utrecht. In two weeks, we’re leaving for Australia to continue the tour down under with stops in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
  • We continued to visit many inspirational Bucket List pioneers and shared unique stories like the ones of Koldo Saratxaga & ner group, Harm Jans & bol.com, and Jos de Blok & Buurtzorg.
  • We featured great guest blogs from fellow rebels on, for example, Schuberg Philis, Makers Academy, and how to reward in self-managed teams.
  • We published many articles on our own blog but we also appeared in other media channels like Forbes, BBC, Huffington Post, Virgin Media and Humans of New Work.
  • We started to put serious efforts into writing our upcoming book: the first 20.000 words are on paper.
  • We gave a long list of keynotes around the world and performed various workshops to make work more fun in organizations such as Hugo Boss, TMC, ING, Adecco, and Rabobank.
  • We started to actively support organizations and teams in their quest to make work more fun, and shared some of our tools, like the Corporate Rebels Canvas, on the blog.

With such diverse things going on at the moment and with more rebels joining the team in the next phase of Corporate Rebels, we felt an increasing need to define a set of core values for ourselves. In this blog post, we share what our process looked like and the results that came out of it.

The process

The basics

We scheduled a full day for this exercise. We allocated some time to gather input and some more time to turn that input into a description of our values. We kicked off the day with a good cup of coffee and thereafter went through a couple of predefined steps:

The steps to define our core values

  • At first, we started with Ari Weinzweig's hot pen technique. Armed with a bunch of post-its, each of us wrote down our most important personal values (with no maximum amount). We took 30 minutes for this step.
  • After 30 minutes of writing, we joined forces again. In turn, we all took the time to explain to the others which values we wrote down and why those particular values are so important. The others asked questions if certain things weren't clear. This step took us about an hour.
  • After hearing everyone's personal values, the next step was to cluster the most common and important ones. In our case 5 clusters of values arose, so it was kind of straightforward to select this number of values. This step took us another 30 minutes.

After we selected the 5 values, we directly realized that choosing just words as values didn't capture properly what we wanted to achieve with this exercise. After a small discussion, we decided to create more content around the words explaining what each value meant to us. We added a few additional steps to the process.

  • As a group exercise, we first turned the words into short sentences that represented the absolute minimum essence of each value. This step took us about an hour.
  • Next, we set out to add the right *feeling* to the values. We wanted to take enough time for this particular step so we decided to pause the process for a bit.
  • A week later, we picked it up again and first discussed what we all had come up with. Subsequently, we tailored, shaped, and fine-tuned the sentences to describe our values.
  • The discussions were maybe even more important than the outcome itself. It aligned our ideas on what was most important for us to live by as Corporate Rebels. Especially because Freek had joined later, it was very powerful to have such discussions among the three of us.
  • After two hours of deep discussions, we had defined our set of core values.

The result

Our set of core values

It is the following set of core values that we came up with:

  • Dare to change the world

The bigger you think, the more you achieve. When you think big, you have to act big. Don't over-analyze, don't be afraid to make mistakes, and act right now.

  • Be a rebel

Be bold, be a pioneer, and be an adventurer. Try new things, explore uncharted territory, and challenge the status quo. We trust our gut feelings and our common sense. Only dead fish go with the flow.

  • Do crazy shit

Having fun is our drug for success. We laugh, make fun, and do crazy shit to create mind-blowing memories.

  • Be an awesome team

We help each other to be great and value people for who they are. Together we celebrate success and support each other in difficult times.

  • Trust like a madman

We trust each other slightly more than feel comfortable. We are all free and do not control. High degrees of freedom go hand in hand with responsibility and accountability. Just be an adult and do what feels right.

Teach it, talk about it, do it

As with a purpose, it's not just about defining it. It's about making it come to life in the day-to-day business; the decisions you take, the projects you work on, the people you hire, et cetera. How we actually make our values come to life is something we will write about in another blog post. And that is not only the harder part, but also the more fun.

As with a purpose, it's not just about defining your values. It's about making them come to life.

Learning how to live our values will demand focus. We will do our best. And we will share our successes, our mistakes, and our learnings.

Written by Joost Minnaar
Joost Minnaar
Co-founder Corporate Rebels. My daily focus is on research, writing, and anything else related to making work more fun.
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