Blog posts

Team values

Alignment of goals and values is essential for the team’s performance.

I love teamwork, and I really enjoy it. While I was still active in scouting, we would do all sorts of beautiful projects. Projects that one could never complete alone. We supported and helped each other. OK and annoyed each other. Or maybe I was the one annoying others :) Not sure.

So when I tried to get my first startup idea called Technology Dreamers of the ground, I couldn’t understand why the team didn’t click. I was puzzled by that for almost a year. Then I realized.

Goals & Values

In every scouting project, the purpose was clear. The goal wasn’t arbitrary. It could be described in one sentence. The values of the team were aligned. We were all volunteers. So we forged on towards the finish line no matter what. Team alignment happened naturally. Active volunteers in scouting had their values already aligned.

But in the case of Technology Dreamers team interests were not aligned. Neither were our values. Every team member had a different vision, was willing to commit a different amount of time and money to the cause.

Our goal was arbitrary, and we kept chasing our tail. As the team lead, I was too democratic.

How is that a bad thing?

Well, if there’s no clear goal, someone has to provide a clear direction. I didn’t. I thought I didn’t have to.

But honestly, when you build something from scratch, not everyone will agree. Not everyone will be willing to take on the same amount of risk. Later on, when we hit the wall with our idea, the team was lost. With no clear path in sight. Eventually, we broke the team off.

While trying to lunch Technology Dreamers, I realized that I didn’t want a startup neither a team for my freedom business. Unfortunately, when it comes to creating a business that supports your lifestyle, it’s hard to get aligned. Hack, I have a hard time aligning with myself. Aligning values with multiple people? Forget that.

Finding values

But how do you find your own values? Well, not overnight. The list didn’t come out of thin air. I had to repeatedly observe and see what I liked and disliked. I asked my self multiple times:

What’s driving me? What’s my motive for this? What’s the life I want to live?

For now, my top list contains:

Often I thought I found my motives. Then later realized that the real motive was something else. So I kept digging. I’m not fooling my self that I’m done. As I wrote in Chalanging status quo I always poke around to find another angle. Sometimes that’s a gift sometimes a curse.

Lesson for a team?

Finding values might sound simple. In fact, trivial. But when you actually go through the process of creating something, you’re puzzled why things didn’t work out. If our startup team was 100% aligned, we would have crushed it. Yet we didn’t. The lesson for the next time:

If stuck: Check that team values are aligned.

Then check the values again and again.

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