How Disco Created Unique Company Values And Why They Work

Disco co-founders Jeremy and Justin Vandehey share how they created Disco's values and explore why they are effective.

How Disco Created Unique Company Values And Why They Work

Disco co-founders Jeremy and Justin Vandehey prioritize having meaningful company values, but why?

"Company cultures are like fingerprints. There are no two cultures that are exactly the same." -CEO Jeremy Vandehey

This individuality creates an exciting opportunity to come up with unique company values that perfectly describe what your founders, leadership, and employees value that sets you apart from your competition in the industry. These unique values set the tone for how work gets done. This tone impacts everything from internal meetings to interactions with customers, so it's best to make it your own.

"Your values are the written statements and commitments you make to communicate internally to employees and externally to customers, investors, and shareholders on what matters most to the organization and team you're building, as well as how you plan to work together." -CEO Justin Vandehey

Justin thinks about company culture in terms of building a house. There are 1,000 different possible variations, all depending on the different blueprints, tools, and how you build it. In business, these factors are the company's mission, values, and actions.

  • The company mission is the blueprint
  • The values are the tools you have to build
  • The way you use those values is actually building the house

At the end of the day, the actions are what matter most. Whether or not your actions map back to the mission and values you outlined determines how successful your culture is. If the actions you take when building the house do not match the tools and blueprints you have, your house may not end up looking right.

So what can companies do to ensure people actually embody their values?

  • It's important to hold values that are memorable and actionable.
  • In our data we found that the most engaged organizations have between 3-5 company values.
  • It's a delicate balance between picking values that you currently hold and values that you aspire to achieve.

How did the Disco founders select their core values?

Keeping the ideas above in mind, the Disco founders relied on a tactic they learned at Intuit called "Going broad to go narrow." This involved a broad brainstorm of all the values they believed in. They used a whiteboard to write down the beliefs that mattered most to their core team. Then, they defined language that they felt would be memorable and lasting for Disco as they grew and scaled through the earlier stages of their company's growth.

Finally, they narrowed them down to the four most important values that they felt were important to every aspect of the business.

What are Disco's Values?

The 4 company values the Disco founders created were "bring energy," "make cupcakes," "open mic," and "pioneer."

The "bring energy" value is Justin's favorite to receive because he believes that optimism is everything in a startup and positive energy is infectious!

Disco's technical team really embraces the notion of building small, "bite sized" features that delight customers. "Making cupcakes" avoids having to build an entire "wedding cake" before you're able to make customers happy.

The open mic value is typically awarded to great communicators, those who make their thoughts and feelings clear to others.

This value is Jeremy's favorite to receive because he is a product person at heart. He loves to challenge himself and his team to push the boundaries and status quo for employee engagement and HR technology.

Naming the values

Disco has some quirky value names, but that is not necessary for engagement. What matters most is that the value names fit the company! If part of your culture is quirky, then it would be weird to have stale or non-descriptive values. Having said that, creative names (that aren't too long) definitely help employees not just remember what the values are, but also how to apply them to their day-to-day.

Here are some examples of values that work for other companies:

Tweet @TryDisco the story of how you came up with your company values!