FIP 85: Audience Stories – Emily Woods from Sanivation

Today, we speak with Emily Woods of Sanivation on how one episode of Finding Impact helped her re-think how her company’s culture and values were created and defined.

On this episode:

  • Emily talks about the process of defining the company culture and establishing its values in advance of a high growth phase. The first time they had done this exercise was in 2015 when the company had 15 employees. At the time, they established seven core values but it seemed that these were too numerous for employees to remember and act upon.
  • They decided to do a second exercise to define the company’s purpose and values,  which was inspired by FIP’s Episode 63 with guest Ayla Schlosser. Multiple people within the company had recommended the episode, and Emily found that Ayla not only gave a clear description of her organization’s purpose but also really showed why company values are important.
  • She realized that Alya’s hummingbird story was really great for Resonate, but would not work for Sanivation. Emily noted that the story of the sanitation sector was that people were always looking to solve a problem, but not necessarily thinking through how to do it in the clear and best ways so the hummingbird story would need some adaptation.
  • Emily employed Ayla’s process for drafting company values in Sanivation, including making sure that everyone at the company was consulted and asking everyone what they are proudest of about the company.
  • Sanivation’s culture creation process focused on the management meeting with each team to discuss the current core values, if they remember them, and how they use them. That information was taken from each team to a day-long workshop with the managers, where discussion continued. Emily learned that it takes a while for people to think about what they are most proud of and would even recommend that companies take even longer with this process to ensure thorough feedback.
  • For Sanivation, the outcomes of the second company value creation workshop reduced the number of values from seven to three. Sanivation’s corporate values are: passion for impact, putting people first, and delivering results. From these core values, Sanivation wants to go on to create competencies upon which evaluative KPIs can be used, as well as decision principles for staff to use in everyday operations.

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