Establishing a Foundation

By Dana Morey

In the wake of a global pandemic without a clear end point and facing a new decade full of unforeseen challenges, here at Morey we have chosen to double down on vision. It is my sincere belief that as a company, we have successfully navigated the twists and turns of the past eight decades because we have had clear purpose. But over time, that purpose can become cloudy or fuzzy. Today, as a 3rd generation family-owned American company with a history of innovation—I want to talk about our renewed vision, and specifically focus on the importance of the core values that define who we are and how we act as a company, team and family.

As a business now running fully on EOS—or the Entrepreneurial Operating System—our vision consists of both our Core Focus and Core Values. At Morey, our Core Focus is very simple: We exist to enrich people’s lives, and accomplish this through smart, connected solutions. Establishing this focus is critical to our continued success throughout the next decade and beyond, not only because it gives us a north star but because it directly informs the ways in which we interact with each other and our partners—our culture and values.

Every one of us has some critically important things in common when it comes to our work experience; things that we want and need to receive from our work, things we hope to bring to it and things that we definitely don’t want.

  • We all want to be part of a great team that wins. Winning is in our blood. Here in Chicago, it’s why we get so excited when our city has great sports teams. We emotionally join the team and feel like somehow we are a part of their success. I still see Chicagoans bragging about the ‘85 Bears like they were on the team—because they wish they were! Everyone wants to be a part of a great team. 
  • But on that team we want to work with good people; people that share our values and that we can trust and depend on. If you cannot trust those around you to treat you with kindness, respect and to have your back when things get tough, you simply won’t stick around. 
  • We all want our work to matter. That is, we want to be a part of a worthy vision that will make a difference in the world. Our careers take the best hours of our days for most of our lives, and we want it to mean more than just a paycheck. Teddy Roosevelt put it this way:

“Far and away the greatest prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

I really believe that to be true.

Some are things that we want practically:

  • Because we want our work to matter, we want to understand how our role and our efforts are helping the team achieve our collective goals. 
  • We want to do an excellent job, so we need to know what is expected of us and if we’re on track or not. We want to be able to see the scoreboard so we know if we’re winning or losing.
  • And we want to see the fruit of our labors, so we desire to be noticed, recognized and rewarded for our efforts and successes—both emotionally and financially.

But we also want more than that. 

I believe that we all have a desire built into us by God to do something great; something special, that’s hard yet important. Though it’s nice when once in a while things are easy, easy gets boring because we really weren’t created for easy. We were created for great. Again, Teddy Roosevelt: 

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life.”

We want to be challenged. We want to be tested. And we want to be pushed, because the satisfaction of success is so much greater when the journey is hard. There is a certain universality to the principles that are important to us in our work, and the key to having all of the things we really want and very little of the stuff that we don’t is something that we have to create, together, as a team. That is our culture. 

Culture is about the way we view and treat one another. It is about the ways conflicts are handled. It is about how we celebrate successes, and how we overcome failures. It determines our attitudes, our work ethic. It is about how (and how often) our team communicates. It is about a shared commitment to reaching goals in a way that everyone has agreed on.

Some prefer to lead with strategy—”Culture is all well and good, but how are we going to do this? What’s the plan?” To them, culture sounds too soft and fluffy. It isn’t. Here’s what Peter Drucker—arguably one of the leading business strategists of our generation—said when he compared leading with culture versus leading with strategy:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

And Louis Gerstner, former CEO at IBM, had a similar revelation:

“I came to see in my time at IBM that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that we don’t need a strategy; but I am arguing that if you want it all, strategy is far less important than the culture that your strategy is being executed in. I’m not suggesting that we all dress alike or start a company softball team—those things may reflect some aspect of a company culture, but they aren’t culture. 

I’m defining culture as a reflection of the collective values that we are actually living. Because a culture is actually about shared values. A value is something you place special importance on. If you are not clear about what is really important, then you don’t have a guide to choose the right directions and make the right decisions. It is these values, then, that determine what behaviors will be expected, celebrated, tolerated or not tolerated.

In the coming weeks, I am going to unpack and dive deeper into the values that we have established at Morey and that we commit to live by. These of course aren’t all of our values; there are many things we believe are important that are far too numerous to put on a list. But the values we have identified are critical—or core—to our vision. And I believe as we practice them, they will create a culture that continually empowers and inspires us to pursue our purpose.

Our Core Values:

  • Commit to Honor
  • Own It
  • Value Each Other
  • Embrace Creativity
  • Build Partnerships

Does your business already have a list of core values, or are you currently figuring out how to identify and solidify them? No matter where you are on the journey, we welcome engagement, collaboration and feedback.