When my business partner Brian and I started Avalution in a Starbucks 11 years ago, we didn’t spend much time agonizing over what we wanted this firm to be about. It was a quick conversation – and it didn’t really focus on business continuity! We envisioned a firm of great problem solvers. We were both most comfortable with business continuity, so we considered that a great place to start. Throughout the years, we’ve had many quick conversations to determine the path forward for Avalution.
Since then, we’ve grown on average 20% per year to now nearly 30 people all over the US. As we’ve grown, we’ve also learned a lot. Over the last 6 months, we’ve been focusing on more clearly defining the ‘unmovable core’ of our company. We’ve spent time discussing and reflecting on how all of our team members can be aligned for us to move forward. For us, this became essential around 15 employees – we found that we could no longer have quick conversation to get everyone on the same page. As we add more people we need clarity on what is expected from everyone at Avalution.
Compared to our quick conversations in the early years – this has been a slow process. It’s taken dozens of conversations that spanned all our employees to thoughtfully hone in on what really makes us unique. We could have done it faster, but we wanted to ensure we heard what everyone in the firm was thinking.
The result has been a set of values we’ve established that drive how we work. Our goal here wasn’t to have a set of values that we could hang up on the wall – but to really define what makes Avalution unique. Our commitment is to hire and fire based on alignment to these, and our recruiting and evaluation processes are being reworked to incorporate them. Most importantly, these values are not ‘aspirational’ – they reflect who we are today. We’re excited to share them with you.
A few quick thoughts on each of our values:
Much has been written about the benefits of taking ownership of your situation. Choosing to own it means limitless influence and opens us up to new ways of serving each other. It also facilitates great growth by reflecting on our struggles and empowering us to make things better.
I believe that true genius is the ability to take the complex and make it simple, elegant, and engaging. This is true in science, architecture, software, management, etc. We really value that capability in our team.
We must get better every day. Otherwise the world will pass us by! We also favor small steps and experiments rather than giant initiatives. They are easier for everyone to get behind and seem to succeed more often!
Listening is one of the most important skills a consultant can have. But we take this much further. ‘Hear It’ means being OPEN to new ideas. We demonstrate this by asking questions with a sense of curiosity to understand alternative points of view. We know folks have good intentions, so before we judge an idea, we first try to understand it from the other’s perspective.
At Avalution, we have a deep commitment to transparency. As a company, we share all the details of how we’re performing to help align everyone to focus on what’s important and hold ourselves accountable. Individually, we also value transparency: straight talk and honesty. We’re not afraid of difficult conversations
Avalution’s culture empowers our team members to learn and grow – stretch one another. We truly want our team to enjoy what they are doing every day and to never forget to have fun along the way.
We tend to cover deliver it last, but it’s one of the most important. All of the above doesn’t matter if we’re not delivering to customers. This value is action oriented and a reminder that what we do is help our customers be more successful.
Beyond defining our core values, we’ve been reorganizing our operations to facilitate our continued growth and to build a flat, flexible organization. More on that in a future post!