Declaration of Our Fundamental Corporate Values
A company is simply an organization of individuals who have come together to build something more than they could by themselves. Just like the individuals which organize it, the company must have it’s basic needs met: it must turn a profit, it must operate within the confines of the law, it must account for inflows and outflows, et cetera.
It is not the purpose of an individual’s existence, however, to meet only her basic needs. Blood exists for the body, but the body does not exist for blood. In the same way, a collection of individuals—each with their own driving purpose, but kindred enough to band together in an organization—does not exist to merely meet basic corporate needs. We band together to build something bigger than ourselves, to solve problems that cannot be solved by anyone alone, to create value in the lives of people around us, to generate purpose in our own lives—confident that, collectively, we will leave the world better than we found it.
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To accomplish this purpose, we must deeply believe in and cherish these basic principles.
Power of innovation. Whether in the slow slog of ideas, the travel down blind and dead-end alleys, the intellectual meanderings of directionless thought, the sudden breakthroughs of a puzzle falling into place, or the subtle adaptation of an old idea, mankind only progresses when ideas are put into action. Innovation is not some luxury, it is existential to humanity.
We acknowledge that innovation is messy. Innovation is built atop a foundation of failure. We value that repeated failure. We value attempts fallen short. We value ideas, ideas, ideas. By valuing these, we value success and innovation.
Honesty. First, we must be honest with ourselves. Innovative ideas require honesty of intellect, and the development of every other virtue carries honest self-reflection as a prerequisite. Whatever is built under self-deception will be riddled with flaws—flaws that cannot be repaired because our own dishonesty will have blinded us to them. Irreparably flawed work cannot make the world better, nor will it stand against the harsh weathering of time. And so, self-honesty is required to build something bigger than ourselves.
Second, we must be honest with each other. We have joined together as individuals because we can accomplish more by leaning on each other’s expertise. We do far less good for one another when dishonesty dominates our cooperation. Honesty with each other, then, is required to build anything in the world.
Third, we must be honest with our customers, stakeholders, shareholders, and with whomever else we interact. Only through honesty with others can we build meaning into our own lives and the lives of those around us.
We value honesty in all we do.
Fairness. In all our interactions, we will treat others fairly and demand the same in return. We will not accept deals that are unfair to another, and we will not accept deals that are unfair to us.
Because we seek to build lasting good into the world, and because only fair deals are lasting, we value fairness.
Wisdom. The balance of myriad interests that is required when individuals work together cannot be codified by simple rules for all time. Ultimately, it is the people making up the organization who must employ wisdom in their day-to-day dealings. Only a collection of wise individuals can organize, operate, and build meaning in the world around them. Wise people make wise choices and wise choices build a wise company. A wise company is a lasting company.
We therefore value wisdom and the development thereof.
Engaged charity. Money is a component of any charitable endeavor, but it is the physical presence of real people in real moments of harshness and pain that cultivates virtue.
When confronted with unfamiliar and harsh challenges, individuals demand fairness, innovation, honesty, and wisdom. By holding those values dear and seeking their increase in ourselves, we necessarily value engaged charity.
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We, like all individuals, can always and only ever strive toward our ideals. Our values motivate pursuit, but they are not a destination. We commit to strive toward them in steps both small and large, day by day by day.