Invisible’s Core Values (2.0)

Invisible’s Core Values (2.0)

Greetings, Dragons!

I'm going to offer some general reflections on our newest articulation of the company values, recently shared by Ben and Francis in Barcelona, at the partner offsite, in May. These are not new values per se, but new ways of saying what we’ve always believed, just with different emphasis and inflection. I like the metaphor of old wine, new barrels. The container changes, but the substance remains. Any list or creed risks becoming stale and needs revisiting from time to time. Wisdom requires that we don't just assume the default. "What got us here, won't get us there." That's true for business strategy, for culture strategy, and for personal growth strategy. Our values are aspirational; they reflect the kind of company we seek to become.

Values 1.0

1. Ownership

2. Meritocracy

3. Self-improvement

4. Transparency

5. Service

6. Communication

Values 2.0

1. Myth & Wisdom

2. Strategy & Tactics

3. Ownership & Alignment

4. Self-Improvement & Excellence

5. Service & Partnership

You'll notice that words like transparency and communication have fallen away in the new 2.0 articulation; we still care about them, but we see these as contained in many of the new values. More importantly, you'll see that our values now come in pairs. The reason is that any value out of context can become a vice and needs to be balanced against another value. Ownership without alignment leads to chaos and confusion. Alignment without ownership quashes creativity, responsibility, and innovation. By putting values in pairs we're signaling that a value needs to be properly dosed. Knowing what dose to give to the right person in the right situation is wisdom, hence, our first value, the value of knowing how to weigh competing values. You'll also note that most of our values sound normal, except for myth. That's right; we want to be normal enough to be professional, but distinct enough to outcompete other normal, boring companies. With myth, we take our inspiration from companies like Disney that understand the enduring power of great, archetypal stories.

Myth and Wisdom:

Myth: We believe in being ambitious, in seeing ourselves as part of a story larger than ourselves, in living purposefully, in undertaking a hero’s journey. We want you to feel that your life is significant and that your time at Invisible is significant. Although we are a company that specializes in efficiency, we don't seek to be sterile. We want to encourage storytelling and imagination and identification with the grand and the enduring. We want you to think about your life's mission and we want to be a company that stands the test of time. Myths have proven their longevity and we seek to learn from them and tap into their enduring power. Myth is the wellspring from which our conviction and energy come. Without it, you can have all the analytical horsepower in the world, but you'll be operating on a lower frequency.

Wisdom: We believe in wisdom, not just specialized knowledge. Wise people make connections across domains. Wise people know how to call on multiple intelligences and know how to hold contradictory and conflicting perspectives. Wise people know how to balance forest and trees. Wisdom means having the ability to see exceptions, find nuance, and bridge theory (vision) and practice (execution).

Strategy and Tactics

Strategy: Strategy means knowing where you want to go and what stands in the way. A person who has goals but no sense of obstacles has no strategy. A person who simply responds to challenges but has no north star has no strategy.

Tactics: If strategy is about the big picture, tactics is about the day to day, the week to week, the month to month. Great tacticians know how to pivot in real time, responding to new information and new circumstances. Think of Waze: the app doesn't tell you how you're going to get to your destination, but it knows where the traffic is and how to avoid it.

Ownership and Alignment

Ownership. Owners take responsibility. Owners care. Owners win the upside of their actions and expose themselves to the downside. Owners don’t wait to be told what to do, but are proactive leaders. When you own something you treat it better. Renters don't care for their houses in the same way that owners do because they don't have skin in the game. An ownership mentality means that you feel that your work is yours.

Alignment means that we work in tandem with others, seek collaboration, and buy-in, and seek harmonization and standardization of efforts, processes, and goals. Ownership without alignment leads to chaos, confusion, and inefficiency. Alignment without ownership leads to death by consensus.

Self-Improvement and Excellence

Self-Improvement. We are all works in progress. At Invisible we seek to level up, and strive to become the best versions of ourselves.

Excellence is about setting and aspiring to high standards. Just because we are works in progress who need to be generous towards ourselves and others as we do our best doesn't mean we should let go of our sense of what greatness looks and feels like. Excellence may be far off, but it is worth striving for.

Service and Partnership

Service. Service-oriented people are givers who walk into a room and ask how they can bring light to it. How can I elevate every interaction? We want to be a culture of givers, helping each other out when we can.

Partnership requires mutuality, and reciprocity, as well as knowing your role and responsibility, as in an orchestra. Great partnerships require both give and take. Service without reciprocity leads to resentment and burnout, but a partnership that is purely transactional lacks soul. Great partners know how to dance and play music together. If you play the sheet music perfectly but lose everyone else, that isn't partnership. Partnership means we all win together.