Since I spend a considerable amount of my client work time dealing with value systems and their much needed translation into behaviours, it is only natural that people has asked me, many times, about my own value system and that of the company I lead, The Chalfont Project.
I have been very good at avoiding an answer, perhaps, in part, to avoid the confrontation with ‘words on paper’ of the type I challenge. But, fair enough, to those who ask, here is my list of unreasonable non-negotiable.
- Loyalty. There must be a better word, but I don’t have it. Loyalty to ideas, to what we do. I can’t inject passion, I can’t expect passion, but I am very bad at accepting the lack of it. The ‘a job is a job’ people have no place in my organization, but they will get a free list of phone numbers of competitors to call and apply.
- Sense of urgency. Life is not sequential. If you don’t like the world multi-tasking, don’t use it. But life is multi-something. We live in parallel worlds. Our clients live in parallel worlds. Work ethos is non negotiable. I need people faster than me, around me, working with me.
- Care. Also known as ‘we are all in this together’. The organization is not a family; this is a false analogy. But either we care for each other or we don’t care for anything. To those who say ‘work is not personal’, we say, you wish. If it’s not personal, we don’t want it.
- Ambition. People who multiply, don’t just add. Maximising our potential is equal to living a true professional life. Mr Michelangelo comes here all the time. I am embarrassed to keep quoting what has been written thousand times in PowerPoint, posters, mugs and t-shirts: ‘The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark’,
- Imagination. People who have all the answers are disqualified. The following positions usually trigger a no go/sorry/not here/wrong place/I think you have a wrong number: ‘I /we have not done it before’, ‘give me a database’, ‘we don’t have a process’, ‘I assume, ‘I need a case study’, ‘tell me what to do and I’ll do it’.
- Critical thinking. Intelligent, smart people welcome. Critical thinking must be a habit, not a genetic predisposition. We don’t fool ourselves, at least not consciously. We don’t fool clients.
- ‘Remarkable’ Our implementations have to be slick, memorable, remarkable. ‘Good’ and ‘interesting’ are not interesting. We don’t ‘deliver’, pizza companies do. We and the client work together. We have the expertise, or we should not be there. And if we are, we shoot for remarkable.
- Look out. We cherish people who can hear and see and feel the market, trends, ideas, the next thing.
- Independence. No recycling, revisiting, postponing, accumulating orphan ideas. We are absolutely terrible and hopeless at spoon-feeding. The ‘corporate support system’ is called the world out there, and the official headcount for the support system is that guy you are looking at when you have a mirror in front of you.
- Sense of the whole and the purpose . People who have a portfolio view, helicopter view. ‘Why we are doing this’ is so present that we don’t even have to ask, but, just in case, we do.
The above list makes working with us either a dream or a nightmare. Nothing in between. The list has not changed in years, the order has, the nuances of the lines have.
The package is aspirational. We are not there. We will never be there. I pray we will never have arrived.
Because it is aspirational and because we want to travel that way, many things may sound and feel unreasonable. But the reasonable aspirations have already been taken by the traditional consulting firms, so we could not occupy that space. Thanks for the favour.