Against company values

April, 2020

Technology companies love to talk about their values. Unfortunately the problem with values is that they are highly abstract and ambivalent constructs that mean different things to different people.

My personal hypothesis as to why the Web 2.0 world loves "values" so much is due to a fundamental lack of inspiring visions. When your company's purpose is to make people click on useless ads all day, you've got to come up with something else to inspire your employees. But humans are built with descent bullshit detectors and in practice this form of corporate jargon rarely works as a motivator.

Recognizing the above, I believe that organizations that have a meaningful reason to exist (ie something people can stand behind) should start the other way around. They should define their purpose, spend quality time describing and documenting the world they adhere to, and then reverse engineer from that.

An organization that strives to be fully aligned with its purpose, highly aligned with its day to day practices and loosely aligned in terms of beliefs and principles is more likely to create an inspiring environment for existing and potential employees.