Welcome to the jungle
In 2013 ASP sought some strategic advice and it became clear that in order to plan for our brave new world we must first identify our core values.
The management team put our heads together and discussed how this could be done. Do we have an idea about what are core values are? Should we get everyone in the company to give us their suggestions? One thing for sure was in order to get everyone engaged there was no chance we’d force our ideals on everyone else as law.
We quickly came to appreciate that we’re in a lucky position at ASP where we already have an established culture. Forget the orange branding and our logo appearing at various events, there’s definitely a certain recognisable ASPness about us (evident in the way we support each other in the office and interact with our clients for example). We proceeded to list what this culture was and eventually settled on a selection of words that described us and what we hope to portray. We slept on it and came back to whittle this down to 5 key words and gave each one a carefully-worded strapline to sum up what it means:
Learn & Evolve – We love to learn, listen and continually strive to be better
Honesty – We don’t over promise or under deliver
Responsibility – We are open, honest and want responsibility
Team – We work as a team and have each other’s backs - no matter what (unless it’s criminal!)
Pride – We give a sh*t because we take great personal pride in everything we do
Great. We loved them as a reflection of ASP, our tone and our promises. Now we needed to think about how to make them memorable.
Sitting in his garden over the weekend Luke had a brainwave (he’s our Creative Director for these very situations). We’re coming up with a new strategy because we’re in a competitive market and need to survive and thrive. It’s all about survival of the fittest. Let’s relate it all to being in a jungle. And that’s how our Welcome to the Jungle campaign was born.
We associated each value to an animal, helping to make it relevant to the theme and memorable:
Learn & Evolve – Chameleon
Honesty – Eagle
Responsibility – Gorilla
Team – Ant
Pride – Lion (yeah, we know lions don’t really live in the jungle!)
This was all very exciting for us and we were thrilled to be able to come up with a strong set of values that encompass our culture and then wrap them into a fun concept (back to that certain ASPness). But we were very wary that we had yet to get everyone’s buy-in. After all we were firm in our belief that once in place these values would be used to hire and fire. Without everyone being engaged it would not be possible to fully implement this new standard.
We decided to do a full company presentation. For this we hired out a private cinema so that we could all be away from the office and either flew in or skyped in colleagues from our other offices. We were very serious about this! The cinema was dressed up in the jungle theme (think trees, foliage, life-size gorilla) and the management team entered the stage to Guns N Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle. The mood was set.
Being transparent and honest was key. We told everyone about our plans for the next 5 years. What’s happened up to now? Where are we as a business? What do we want to achieve? What’s our vision? What is expected from everyone? All managers spoke about each value and then came the important part – what did they all think? On the night we were told we got it spot on and even after giving everyone a couple of weeks to think about it and feed back their thoughts it was unanimous that those 5 values are ASP.
Another great thing about the jungle theme is the ability to extend the branding. After the presentation we grabbed food and drinks at the Rainforest Café. Upon entering the office the next day everyone was met with the same décor as seen in the cinema. New mugs were delivered bearing the values as animal icons and postcards depicting the vision and values were placed on everyone’s desks and in all meeting rooms. No excuses not to remember!
Of course it wasn’t all so easy and fun. Revisiting our promise to hire and fire based on the agreed values it was clear that two people actually did not share in this way of thinking. The values enabled us to pinpoint our dissatisfaction with them and theirs in us and allowed us to part ways smoothly. The boost to morale in the office was incredible.
Now some time down the line and with everyone on board we can rely on each other to be pushing in the same direction. Furthermore, using the values in recruitment has allowed us to filter candidates and has even given us a competitive edge when great people have chosen us over alternatives. We continue to think of ways to make ASP a great place to work and give more reasons for us to be a desired supplier to work with so there’s loads more to come, but valuing values was the first and perhaps most significant step for us.