Framing Enable’s Values (Literally)

One of the learning principles we espouse is inclusion, and as often as possible, we try to bring in as many voices as possible. A little more than a year ago, we re-branded, and really wanted to get our team involved in identifying and living our values as a company. We wanted to share an activity that not only helped us to understand who we were as a group, but also helped us find a way to work this into the design and feel of our office. It was collaborative, creative, and fun (coincidentally, all of these align with our values). We used it in a business setting, but it could just as easily be used in the classroom or the training room.

Here’s what we did:

  • We spent a lot of time honing a list of values that we held dear as a company.
  • We gathered together a whole lot of quirky, retro, black and white images, all of which suited our company culture (we like quirky stuff around here).
  • We stuck the images up on the walls of our board room, in no particular order.
  • We gave every team member a set of sticky notes with our company values on them and asked them to choose the image that they felt best represented each one. Some team members did this on their own, and some worked together and discussed their choices.
  • When everyone had had a chance to choose their favourite images, we adopted the ones that were given the most votes.

Here are some variations:

  • This exercise could be done with any kind of image (nature, cartoon, architecture, abstract), or with any kind of 3D artifact as well. If you have an artist on staff, and they’re comfortable contributing their images, that works too.
  • You can make it as formal or informal as you like, although we found that an informal setting made people a little more comfortable with discussing their opinions.

This activity has not only helped us create an interesting and informative think piece for visitors to our office, but it’s been a useful touchstone for us as a company. We use it to open every company meeting as well. As we transition into our new office space this summer, we’ll be thinking of new ways to feature these words and images.

What values and corresponding pictures did we come up with? Well…