Deliberate practice. How you turn core values into culture.
Savage Brands’ Bethany Andell continues her discussion with Curtis Hite of IT services firm Improving. Curtis explains what he and his stakeholders are doing to rebuild trust in the IT community.
Bethany: Welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at purpose-led brands and their strategies. I’m Bethany Andell, President of Savage Brands, and I’m really excited today to welcome back my guest, Curtis Hite, CEO of Improving. Curtis, welcome back.
Curtis: Glad to be here, Bethany.
Bethany: Last episode was awesome because we were talking about Conscious Capitalism, we were talking about Improving’s purpose and your values, and I’d like to just go a little bit deeper today to talk about how those values and, I’ll call them behaviors, are showing up at Improving. I guess, to start, so our listeners are caught up, just quickly what is Improving’s purpose and what are your values?
Curtis: We have an ambition to positively change the perception of the IT professional. It’s very, very important to us. It has a bad reputation amongst CEOs, and that’s very important to us. We try to do that by focusing on a promise of trust. It’s a very ambitious goal, but we consider our first job every day to establish an environment of trust with all of our stakeholders, not just our customers or employees, but everybody.
Curtis: We have three core values that make up our identity: a commitment to excellence that is not an occasional act but a consistent habit; involvement that our success as a company is a consequence of our collective involvement, not individual; and then finally, dedication, thinking of others a little bit more without thinking less of yourself.
Bethany: What are some ways that you’ve put some practices in place? How does that show up? How do you make sure that is lived inside of Improving?
Curtis: I like to start with most people like to talk about their core values, they get stated, maybe they’re on the walls. It’s much more difficult to get those values to become true guiding principles. That’s very important and one thing that a lot of people don’t understand is it takes deliberate practice. It takes a conscious effort, almost an engineering, or maybe even an engineering to get those results. We actually try to put practices in place. Some of them are big, some of them are small, and maybe I can talk with some of the small practices. How do you get people to know and to start internalizing your guiding principles?
Curtis: We have a daily standup every day.
Bethany: Every day?
Curtis: Every single day that starts at 9:00, goes to about 9:15, and anybody can call in the company if they would like to and we answer a different question each of the days. On Wednesdays, it’s our core values and guiding principles day. Each person goes around and in 30 seconds or less, calls out a guiding principle, the value itself, let’s say excellence, and they restate what the value means and then they call out or lift up one person that’s been able to represent that over the last week. It’s a great gratitude moment yet at the same time it’s a great learning moment. That takes just 15 minutes around a pretty large crowd every week. You’d be surprised how many of our employees actually know our guiding principles, no just as lip service, but try to live them.
Bethany: That’s interesting too because you’ve talked about, and it just has always stuck with me since I’ve heard you say it, sincerity vs. seriousness.
Bethany: We always think we’re coming in with great intent and really sincere, but where do we walk the talk?
Curtis: Absolutely. There’s a big difference between being sincere and being serious, as you mentioned. Sincerity is around intent, and so many people have good intent when it comes to purpose, when it comes to their own behaviors and walk, yet being serious about it is where you actually bridge the gap between that talk and actually the walk. I think sometimes it’s difficult. We’re busy, so what small things can we be doing on a daily basis that allows us to do this? There are all sorts of practices. If you were to get creative, you’d be surprised what you can do in less than an hour a week in institutionalizing these, in making these pervasive throughout your company.
Bethany: That’s great. Well, thank you so much for being here, Curtis. In our future conversations I really want to talk about how you start to see results from living this way. That would be great.
Bethany: And that wraps up this week’s discussion with Curtis Hite, CEO of Improving. I hope to see you again soon.