For the 15 start-up businesses chosen to be on the VeloCITI 2008 program, today, March 18, was a truly inspirational and profoundly introspective day.
See more about What VeloCITI is?
We started off at 9 waking up to cups of coffee and a round of congratulating each other for making it onto the program. It was great seeing the familiar faces from the bridging course 2 weeks ago and re-connecting. I feel this year will unlock some really special relationships and it seems it already has.
We were introduced to Judit from PeerPower, our facilitator and mentor for the day who was later joined by Mignon(PeerPower). I think I can speak for all when I say we were rearing to go and eager to find out what the topic of focus for the day would be.
First off we completed a quick introductions/interview exercise in which we each interviewed one of our VeloCITI peers and had to introduce them to the team. We then focused on setting some guidelines going forward in terms of rules of engagement and how we as a group think we would need to work together to produce the best results within the team over the next 7 – 8 months.
We agreed that in order to participate fully we would need to:
- Get to know each other
- Share our experiences & challenges
- Help each other (peer mentoring)
- Honour the diversity of the group
- Focus on our commonalities
- Not be judgemental
- Be open, interactive and curious
- be constructive in our criticism
- sometimes agree to disagree
- be aware
- not be oversensitive and tip toe around each other
- allow ourselves to be challenged
Some of the expectations we had as a group for the program:
- Gaining Valuable business knowledge
- Gaining soft skills
- building business relationships
- Experience Intelligent business growth
- gain a 3rd eye view – hear others’ perspectives on our biz
- Make friends
- Grow personally
Finding our Core values
Next we were given an exercise which interrogated us on our values and what we deem to be important as individuals. As Mignon and Judit pointed out, business exists within the context of the rest of our lives and not the other way around, so our businesses need to align well with our values or we would be bound to experience conflict.
The questionnaire asked questions like:
- What do you value most
- What do we want our lives to look & feel like
- How do you want people to see you
This was coupled with a speech we were asked to write for our own funeral. These exercises were designed to expose those things which make us who we are and are dearest to us, our Core Values. The importance of knowing ones Values in business cannot be overstated. For me specifically it has driven the majority of the decisions I have made over the last few years with relation to my work and relationships I have formed.
Aligning your businesses values with your personal values makes for a sustainable relationship. A misalignment would ultimately result in conflicted directions between ones personal and business objectives.
For the 15 participants, values were varied and ranged from freedom, independence, balanced lifestyle, collaboration, religion, ethics, the need to make money or to be of benefit to others. We identified CORE VALUES which did not change or at least rarely changed, and aspirational values, which are negotiable and could change depending on the need. The core values are those which will cause us to walk away from something like a business deal, a partnership, a relationship etc.
The Bigger Picture – Defining your PURPOSE
Next we split into groups and discussed what we understood by the word purpose. There were a few angles which came out of the group and we explored the difference in meaning between reason, aim and Purpose, but ultimately we agreed that Purpose was a much more profound concept which related to our reason for existence. Purpose is the motive or driving force and our Purpose is informed by our Values.
The next exercise had quite an effect on me and got us all thinking really deeply about what we do and why we do it. We were asked to define in one sentence what our businesses do.
I said my business unlocks and communicates the real value which companies & organisations offer their markets.
We then had to reply to to this with another question, Why does that matter. and repeating the same question another 4 or 5 times until we reached a point where we uncovered the Purpose behind all of this which was informing our behaviour. My answers became increasing deep and reached quite a profound point reaching deep into the core of why I do what I do.
At this point in the session it was clear that quite a few participants were already focusing on the deeper meaning and purpose behind what their businesses were doing.
Some research which Mignon shared with us from a book called Built to Last by Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great, showed us that companies which were driven by more than just profitability and had purpose informing their actions were thousands of percentage points more successful than their profit only focused counterparts.
Also see – Make Meaning in Your Company – Guy Kawasaki