We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
These words are from the US Declaration of Independence, written in 1776. You might think that it’s odd for me to be quoting these given that we are a UK company working with the latest technology, but they illustrate a point perfectly for me – it’s important not only to know what values you hold most dear, but to write them down, to publicise them and to hold yourselves accountable to them.
It’s this recognition that led to SIPHON’s senior management sitting in an unusual meeting room in the Founder’s Hub* in Cardiff several years ago, defining and describing the core values that we attributed not only to who we were but who we wanted to be.
Since then, we have tweaked our mission statement and we are constantly working to improve how we implement that vision, but the values themselves have stood fast. It is the nature of SIPHON and its people to question the status quo – we wouldn’t have people describing us as innovative and dynamic if we didn’t question it constantly – but the values are something that seems to resonate with everyone in SIPHON and, unusually for us, have not been modified since the day we wrote them.
Since the day we started talking about these values with our staff, we’ve also talked to our partners about them – both customers and suppliers. We are proud of what we do and what we achieve and so talking about our values helps people understand what drives SIPHON – what’s in our DNA. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be talking a bit more about our values and telling you how we live those values daily.
SIPHON has been helping people for over 7 years, so what happened 3 years ago to make us write those values? Until 2013, these values were self-evident. The company had grown organically, one person at a time and the values that we held were clear in everything that we did. New staff couldn’t help but see and be part of that as they were immersed in it. But in 2013, SIPHON acquired VCOMM and that brought with it a sudden influx of staff and systems. Virtually overnight, we had to assimilate two cultures and provide a common frame of reference for every member of staff to work to.
I have been through a number of acquisitions and I have seen how they can affect the culture of the organisation. We were keen to ensure that this didn’t happen here – we felt that we had a winning recipe, but we also recognised that this was a period of fundamental change for SIPHON. It was those realisations that led us to that room in Cardiff – a room so far detached from the typical corporate boardroom that we were able to be free and open with our thoughts and conversations.
These days, every new person who joins our team is introduced to our values and is asked to challenge us to ensure that we keep to them. We have reminders around the offices of the values that help us focus on them and I have at least one conversation each week that involves a discussion on our values.
Over the past 3 years these values have provided a solid and unshakeable foundation for us as we brought the two companies and cultures together and emerged from the acquisition with a company stronger than the two that entered into that agreement. It has helped us through day-to-day work, through major shifts in the economic and political climate and will continue to help guide us in future decisions, I’m sure.
* Sadly, Founder’s Hub closed in 2015.