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  • Writer's picturejoshlevine


Updated: Jun 7, 2022

What are the guardrails of an organization's culture? Values. Values encapsulate a company’s core beliefs and establish the behavioral expectations of employees and leaders. Below is a story shared with me from Maggie Spicer, of the brand strategy and creative agency WHISK.

At WHISK, Maggie has focused on enriching workplace experience, company culture, and designing engagement through a deeper understanding of the brain sciences and wellbeing.

Let the best people of your culture help define your values (free tool)


Beginning in the early days of our company, we started articulating the core business values. At WHISK, our values include high performance, trust, intentionality, health, creativity, and authenticity. We came to these values by storytelling and sharing some of our highest wins, and lowest lows. To do this, we worked with a partner who interviewed us about these experiences. As we shared stories and insights, they took note of adjectives used to describe the experiences. From that exercise, we then had a generous list of values and qualities. From there, we honed in on our top ten strongest, most deeply felt values, and from there, narrowed our list down to 5–6 core values.

As the team grew, we led a workshop to help each team member articulate her personal values. We charted any significant similarities and/or discrepancies in individual team members’ core values, and those of the business. If there were any significant differences, we talked about the implications of what those might look like, then planned both at the day-to-day level, as well as the long term for values alignment across not only team members and the business, but team members amongst themselves. This was instrumental both in being able to efficiently pair up team members who share similar values, and also to place them onto client projects whose values were in alignment. We repeat this process twice a year, as values can evolve.

We’d encourage anyone seeking to help steward and guide their culture to begin with identifying and discussing core values. They will serve as the helm for the journey ahead.

Credit: Thanks to Maggie Spicer for sharing Whisk’s approach to connecting your team to your company values.

WHISK is an experience design firm based in San Francisco and New York City, with global capabilities.

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