Oct 112012

Return Path Core Values, Part III

Return Path Core Values, Part III

Last year, I wrote a series of 13 posts documenting and illustrating Return Path’s core values.  This year, we just went through a comprehensive all-company process of updating our values.  We didn’t change our values – you can’t do that! – but we did revise the way we present our values to ourselves and the world.  It had been four years since we wrote the original values up, and the business has evolved in many ways.  Quite frankly, the process of writing up all these blog posts for OnlyOnce last year was what led me to think it was time for a bit of a refresh.

The result of the process was that we combined a few values statements, change the wording of a few others, added a few new ones, and organized and labeled them better.  We may not have a catchy acronym like Rand Fishkin’s TAGFEE, but these are now much easier for us to articulate internally.  So now we have 14 values statements, but they don’t exactly map to the prior ones one for one.  The new presentation and statements are:

People First

  • Job 1:  We are responsible for championing and extending our unique culture as a competitive advantage.
  • People Power:  We trust and believe in our people as the foundation of success with our clients and shareholders.
  • Think Like an Owner:  We are a community of A Players who are all owners in the business.  We provide freedom and flexibility in exchange for consistently high performance.
  • Seriously Fun:  We are serious about our job and lighthearted about our day.  We are obsessively kind to and respectful of each other, and appreciate each other’s quirks.

Do the Right Thing 

  • No Secrets:  We are transparent and direct so that people know where the company stands and where they stand, so that they can make great decisions.
  • Spirit of the Law:  We do the right thing, even if it means going beyond what’s written on paper.
  • Raise the Bar:  We lead our industry to set standards that inboxes should only contain messages that are relevant, trusted, and safe.
  • Think Global, Act Local:  We commit our time and energy to support our local communities.

Succeed Together

  • Results-Focused:  We focus on building a great business and a great company in an open, accessible environment.
  • Aim High and Be Bold:  We learn from others, then we write our own rules to be a pioneer in our industry and create a model workplace.  We take risks and challenge complacency, mediocrity, and decisions that don’t make sense.
  • Two Ears, One Mouth:  We ask, listen, learn, and collect data.  We engage in constructive debate to reach conclusions and move forward together.
  • Collaboration is King:   We solve problems together and help each other out along the way. We keep our commitments and communicate diligently when we can’t.
  • Learning Loops: We are a learning organization.  We aren’t embarrassed by our mistakes – we communicate and learn from them so we can grow in our jobs.
  • Not Just About Us:  We know we’re successful when our clients are successful and our users are happy.

For the 4 values which are “new,” I will write a post each, just as I did the old ones and run them over the next couple months.  RPers, I will go back and combine/revise my prior posts for us to use internally, but I won’t bother editing old blog posts.


  • http://www.danielclough.com Daniel Clough

    Love how much importance you put on stuff like this.

    Have you ever outlined in a post before the process you took the company through in order to come up with these and how you manage values on an ongoing basis?

    Things that I would find interesting:

    – how you introduced the concept of this (before you had clear values)

    – process you went through (particularly related to collaboration and buy in)

    – how you rolled it out to the company

    – how you keep it in front of people and relevant

    • Matt Blumberg

      I didn’t, but I should and will!Matt

      • http://joel.is Joel Gascoigne

        I'd also love to hear more about the evolutionary side of the values, in terms of when you started to talk about them and write them down.

        Buffer is now 7 people, and we'll probably be 10 within 2-3 months, so this is something I'm starting to think about more and more. We have values, and early on I wrote some things down that helped me and my co-founder create a consistent voice/style over Twitter and other channels, but it's not something I've spent much time on actively since then.

        Was there a certain number of employees at which this became more important to do?

        • Matt Blumberg

          I'm not sure we are the role model for that. These values were crowd sourced from the entire company when we were about 120 people. Prior to that, I think we did roughly what you're describing. I think, if you've hired well, you can crowd source early and still retain some level of authority over final edits and wording.Matt

  • http://www.danielclough.com Daniel Clough

    Awesome – look forward to it.

    The way I see it is it's easy to come up with a bunch of values – even to build the list collaboratively. Actually truly making them the heartbeat of the company on an ongoing basis is totally something else.

  • Matt Blumberg

    We were very collaborative on the project.