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January 26, 2012

New Core Value: Freedom

January 26, 2012

Recently I introduced Freedom as SmallBox's 8th core value. Here's an excerpt from my recent 2011 wrap up speech:

Starting February 1st, 2012 we now declare all SmallBox employees to be free.

  • Free to come to work when they want for however long they want. Free to take as much vacation time as they need for whatever reason. Free to work and live the way they want to.
  • With freedom comes responsibility. The responsibility to do our best work. To hit billable goals. To go above and beyond when needed. To thoughtfully communicate. To plan ahead. To think of others. To hold each other accountable when we stop growing or lose focus.
  • If you need help knowing where the lines are, ask. If you want personal structure, create it.

Unlimited vacation days? Am I losing my mind? No more tracking PTO/vacation/sick days, etc? Am I actively trying to push SmallBox out of business? No, I think I'm just acknowledging that we are adults and can be trusted. To me this is the next logical step in handing over control of SmallBox to the team. They have earned it and I'm happy to cede more control and freedom to them as a result. I also trust that they will hold each other, and myself, accountable.

I don't think every company is ready for this kind of freedom. Also, there are more mature companies who are able to enjoy even greater liberties. The key is to understand where your team is in terms of development. Much like a child growing into a teenager then adult, companies take their own path from birth to maturity. If you give a toddler the same liberties as an adult you know disaster is bound to strike. Same with a business, sync your team's liberties to its maturity. Some companies will mature more quickly than others.
I realize some may note the similarities with ROWE (Results Only Work Environment). I would agree. Companies like SpinWeb have been thought leaders in this area and I applaud their trail blazing ways. My only push back on ROWE is that it's not right for every company since the cultural maturity has to be there first.
I'm excited to see how the team uses this new core value to grow and do their best work whether it's at home, the office, the Speakeasy or on a road trip.

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