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Compounding Core Values

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Since we’re all about stories here at Stories Incorporated, I’d like to start off this post with a classic tale, one that’s been used in many a math and finance class: The Legend of the Chessboard.

It’s a short but powerful story.

“Interesting story, indeed,” you might be saying to yourself. “But, other than it being an example of compelling storytelling, what does it have to do with this blog?”

Your initial reaction is fair. After all, we’re not in the business of teaching finance lessons. When we dig a little deeper, however, the story illustrates a concept that can be applied way beyond the realm of finance. That concept is compound interest, and I’m going to apply it to our core values.

While our core values are still a work-in-progress, there are two (among others) that have been there from the very beginnings of our conversations on core values. It turns out that these two core values are really exciting when we look at them together and in the context of compound interest. They are:

Relentlessly Improve * Take the Long View

We’re proud of these core values and recognize their importance as two principles, respectively.

Relentlessly Improve is constantly on our minds—in the planning and strategy for each project, the production of each project, our client service, our industry expertise, hiring, operations, personal growth, and all other aspects of our business. We’re always looking to improve in everything we do.

Similarly, we often remind ourselves to Take the Long View. We understand that our business’s survival will depend on our ability to maintain long-term relationships with our clients and to continue providing value in the long term. This goes along with our purpose statement; we want to be an inspiration for and supportive of our clients and employees as they continue to grow in the long haul.

Taken on its own and in the ‘short view,’ the idea of incremental improvement does not necessarily pack a big punch. It was in the short view that the young prince in the Legend of the Chessboard focused. The early increases in the number of grains of wheat he paid the Vizier—in, say, the first two rows of squares on the chessboard—was still insignificant to him. Similarly, a minor incremental improvement in how we craft our solutions or operate our business may not appear significant from one project or process tweak to the next. If we Take the Long View, though, the compounding of all of those incremental improvements will be massively significant.

It’s really exciting to me to think about what the long-term compounding of improvements will make our company look like in five or ten or twenty-five years.