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In search of values

Here's a collection of value statements at diverse companies, as Agaric considers defining some more public values ourselves.

Nava PBC has a comprehensive set of well-thought-out values, entitled Nava's Core Values:

Be Active Stewards

The work we do impacts the lives of millions of people. The stakes are extremely high, so the standards we hold ourselves to must be even higher. In order to meet them, we must always listen closely to the communities we serve, and strive to develop a nuanced and insightful understanding of their experiences and needs. We must then continually advocate for these voices, both to ourselves and our partners. Only with great care and humility — a willingness to be wrong — can we build the tools that will be lasting, accessible, and truly helpful to the people who need them.

Pursue the Root Cause

We are here to build better foundations, not just better facades. The problems we solve are very complex, with broad social, cultural, and civic implications. This means we must always resist the quick fix in favor of pursuing the underlying cause. Getting at the root of a problem is not easy — it requires active listening, practiced empathy, and great tenacity – but it is absolutely necessary. Where we rebuild roots, we are able to effectively and efficiently remake systems from the ground up.

Think Long-term

We work to make basic government services effective, efficient, and responsive to the needs of millions of people. This is a continuous process — one that will outlast election cycles and resonate across lifetimes. We can’t and won’t think about our work in terms of the daily news cycle. Instead, we recognize that it benefits from, if not requires, taking a profoundly long-term perspective.

Build Together

True partnerships are truly collaborative. Our government partners bring decades of knowledge, experience, and policy insight to the table. We have our own set of specialities in technology and design. By bringing these skillsets together, our work becomes more impactful, the systems we build more resilient, and the tools we make more comprehensive. In order to achieve this collaborative spirit, we invite feedback early and often, always provide context for our choices, and share and receive knowledge with equal levels of enthusiasm. We are committed to always working in step with our partners in government.

Inclusion is Essential

Outcomes are unequivocally better when they incorporate a diverse array of insights and expertise. Recognizing that, we will always deliberately and thoughtfully pursue the widest range of viewpoints and life experiences possible. This helps us do the necessary work of recognizing and questioning our own assumptions. It also helps us find stronger and more holistic solutions to the problems we are striving to solve. The people we work with, and the range of experiences they bring to the table, should be directly reflective of the communities we serve. We cannot do our work well otherwise.

Progress Takes Work

Progress takes enduring commitment and extraordinary effort. It is composed of small, daily steps — not necessarily big leaps. We celebrate the difficulty of our daily work and aspire to its undertaking with enthusiasm. That often means tackling tasks that fall outside of the job description. It also means knowing how to thrive under pressure. We believe the future belongs to people who are willing to make change happen, and we are grateful to play our part.

Colab, a large worker-owned digital agency we admire, simply cribbed all their values from the United Nations Global Compact ten principles and the International Co-operative Alliance's definition of the seven cooperative principles.

The Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact

Human Rights
  1. Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  2. make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
  1. Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  2. the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
  3. the effective abolition of child labour; and
  4. the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
  1. Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
  2. undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
  3. encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
  1. Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

The Co-operative Principles of The International Co-operative Alliance

Voluntary and Open Membership
  1. Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
Democratic Member Control
  1. Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
Member Economic Participation
  1. Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Autonomy and Independence
  1. Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
Education, Training and Information
  1. Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
Co-operation among Co-operatives
  1. Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
Concern for Community
  1. Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

Perhaps taking the position that living your values is more important than stating them, Palante Tech's about page simply describes what they do:

Palante Technology is a worker cooperative that provides tech consulting services to progressive nonprofit, social justice, activist and community organizations. Through this work we've developed a deep understanding of nonprofit tech needs. We have also been long involved with activism and organizing in non-technological capacities, including involvement with many of our client organizations. This breadth of experience allows Palante Tech to provide services that are tailored to meet the specialized needs of nonprofit community organizations.

Red Hat, likewise, does not have a single values statement but talks a great deal about "the open source way", with other value statements paired with actions taken sprinkled throughout their about page, such as:



  • Way down on Buffer's about page, beneath their philosophy, they offer "The 10 Buffer Values" which they say were influenced by Dale Carnegie (née Carnagey):

    1. Choose Positivity and Happiness

    • You strive to approach things in a positive and optimistic way
    • You avoid criticizing or condemning team members or users
    • You avoid complaining
    • You let the other person save face, even if they are clearly wrong
    • You are deliberate about giving genuine appreciation

    2. Default to Transparency

    • You take pride in opportunities to share our beliefs, failures, strengths and decisions
    • You use transparency as a tool to help others
    • You always state your thoughts immediately and with honesty
    • You share early in the decision process to avoid "big revelations"

    3. Have a Focus on Self Improvement

    • You are conscious of your current level of productivity and happiness, and make continual changes to grow
    • You have a higher expectation of yourself than Buffer does of you
    • You regularly and deliberately do things that make you feel uncomfortable
    • You practice activities and develop habits that will improve your mind and body

    4. Be a "no-ego" Doer

    • You don't attach your personal self to ideas
    • You let others have your best ideas
    • You approach new ideas thinking "what can we do right now?"
    • You are humble
    • You always ship code the moment it is better than what is live on our site - no matter what

    5. Listen First, Then Listen More

    • You seek first to understand, then to be understood
    • You focus on listening rather than responding
    • You take the approach that everything is a hypothesis and you could be wrong
    • You are suggestive rather than instructive, replacing phrases such as 'certainly','undoubtedly', etc with 'perhaps', 'I think', 'my intuition right now'

    6. Have a Bias Towards Clarity

    • You talk, code, design and write in a clear way instead of being clever
    • You over-communicate, repeating things more times than you would intuitively
    • You use more words to explain, even if it feels obvious already
    • You don't make assumptions, you instead ask that extra question to have the full picture

    7. Make Time to Reflect

    • You deliberately find time for reflection, because that's where your life-changing adjustments come from
    • You have a calm approach to discussions and ponder points in your own time
    • You find time to jump out of the trenches into the higher level thinking that will move the needle
    • You understand the value of patience and treat it as a muscle which needs practice to grow

    8. Live Smarter, Not Harder

    • You value waking up fresh over working that extra hour
    • You always aim to be fully engaged in an activity, or resting
    • You single task your way through the day
    • You are at the top of your game, as you focus on expanding capacity of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy
    • You choose to be at the single place on Earth where you are the happiest, and most productive, and you are not afraid to find out where that is

    9. Show Gratitude

    • You regularly stop and are grateful for your circumstances
    • You are grateful for the work co-workers do to push the company forward and help you move faster
    • You approach customer conversations with humility and the knowledge that it's a privilege to serve these people
    • You have gratitude for platforms, tools and open source that laid the foundation for the possibility of the company: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" - Isaac Newton

    10. Do the Right Thing

    • You choose what's best for customers and the company in the long-term
    • You correct the mistake even when no one would notice
    • You strive to provide the best solution, even if that means foregoing profit
    • You get excited about opportunities to help others

    Slack hides their core values on their career page, and doesn't elaborate on the one-word (plus emoji) per principle, beyond a brief introduction, which is a little depressing when you realize helping people "bring more of themselves to their work" is probably the best purpose you can have while being wildly successful under capitalism:

    Our core values

    These are some of the values we live by, as a company. We work by them, too: we’re building a platform and products we believe in — knowing there is real value to be gained from helping people, wherever they are, simplify whatever it is that they do and bring more of themselves to their work.

    Empathy emoji Empathy
    Courtesy emoji Courtesy
    Thriving emoji Thriving
    Craftsmanship emoji Craftsmanship
    Playfulness emoji Playfulness
    Solidarity emoji Solidarity

    Agaric doesn't currently have a values, statement of purpose, or anything else publicly.

    This is the closest we have on our present long-neglected web site:

    Agaric helps people create and use powerful web sites. As a collective of skilled workers, we collaborate with you and free software communities to develop tools and build platforms that meet your needs.

    I've floated "the most power possible to all people over their own lives" as a statement of purpose, but that's what i put down for everything i do— it's not unique to Agaric's particular ways of helping people gain control (let alone liberty and justice, to the extent we get to do that).

    Agaric's inward-facing values, defined in a process led by Mauricio Dinarte and captured under the heading "Culture", are really solid and I think ought to be broadcast and lived more:


    • We prioritize health and family over work.
    • We work for the benefit of the group.
    • We encourage continuous learning.
    • We appreciate and welcome new ideas.
    • We give back to the communities we are part of.
    • We value long term relationships.

    7 Cooperative Principles

    Agaric is a cooperative and we work under these principles.

    • Voluntary and Open Membership
    • Democratic Member Control
    • Members' Economic Participation
    • Autonomy and Independence
    • Education, Training and Information
    • Cooperation among Cooperatives
    • Concern for Community

    And as you can see we do our own summary of the seven cooperative principles; i think we decided NCBA had our favorite restatement of the seven cooperative principles but their link is broken.

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