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‘Sua Sponte’ and Taking Ownership at Stories Inc.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

We feel extremely lucky to be able to speak with many veterans at the companies we work with. It’s really powerful hearing stories from their service and how they’ve applied the skills they picked up in the military to their civilian careers.

At a recent client site visit, we spoke with a veteran who had served as an Army Ranger. Like many veterans we speak to, his experience in the military taught him leadership lessons that he’s been able to apply to his career as a leader in an IT organization.

…of Their Own Accord

He shared with us that the motto of the Rangers is Sua Sponte, which is Latin for “of their own accord.” He explained that the idea behind the Sua Sponte motto is that while the Rangers always go into a mission with a plan, the plan often gets thrown out the window as situations change, and so it’s vital that all Rangers — from a Private up to Sargeants and Colonels — be able to “go own it and execute and make the mission successful.”

The storyteller went on to describe how his IT team has adopted a similar mindset. “For us to be successful on our projects, we need everybody from the newest employee up to the most experienced to take ownership,” he said. “And part of that is when you see a problem, owning it, taking the initiative to identify it to the group, volunteering to find solutions for it, and then also volunteering to execute a plan—once one has been established—to solve the problem.”

Hearing him talk about Sua Sponte really energized me, because it’s exactly what we’re trying to convey with our Ownership core value. We’ve been very deliberate in making sure we surround ourselves with people who exhibit this quality, and it’s something we screen for in our hiring process.

It’s important that the Stories Inc. team takes ownership because we believe that it’s something that you, our clients, really value in us. We want the Stories Inc. brand to be synonymous with ‘takes ownership,’ among other things.

What Ownership Looks Like at Stories Inc.

Here are some concrete examples of how taking ownership can and should come into play in how we serve you:

  1. Taking initiative – We pride ourselves on our ability to identify themes organically during an interview day that may not have been considered beforehand and then—on the fly—adapt our approach to be able to dig into that theme more deeply.  
  2. Being self-sufficient – You have a ton on your plate already, so we want you to be confident that we’ll do a great job with minimal time investment required on your end. Our offer to take care of the scheduling of storytellers is just a small example of this.
  3. Holding ourselves accountable – Sometimes external factors come up that throw a wrench in an interview day. For example, if a storyteller has an expected meeting they have to attend, we’ll find a way to squeeze them in somewhere else in the day.

I was glad to learn that one of the most elite teams in the world, the Army Rangers, values the same characteristic in its team members that we do at Stories Inc. Of course, there is a slight contrast: for the Rangers, living the sua sponte motto can be the difference between life and death for oneself or a teammate, and so I’m thankful to current and past Rangers and to all those who serve and have served to protect our freedom.   

What do you think? Is taking ownership actually something you value in us? Are there characteristics of our team that you value more highly than taking ownership?