KM Core Values

Tony Hsieh, CEO of, wrote a great endorsement of Twitter in his recent post, How Twitter Can Make You A Better (and Happier) Person. For him, Twitter was instrumental in the following four areas:

  1. Transparency & Values: Twitter constantly reminds me of who I want to be, and what I want Zappos to stand for
  2. Reframing Reality: Twitter encourages me to search for ways to view reality in a funnier and/or more positive way
  3. Helping Others: Twitter makes me think about how to make a positive impact on other people’s lives
  4. Gratitude: Twitter helps me notice and appreciate the little things in life

I’ll let you read his post to find out exactly what makes Twitter so wonderful for him.  However, for our purposes, I wanted to take a closer look at his discussion of values.  In his post he explains that living life in a public forum like Twitter means that there is a constant spotlight on him and on how he embodies his company’s core values in his daily life and his daily tweets.

The Zappos core values were created by the employees of Zappos working together to explain what mattered to them. Here are the values they identified as their “core values”:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

Now, take another look at this list and tell if you don’t think it would be a great statement of knowledge management’s core values?  We may not be delivering shoes and clothing, but these core values speak to our work as service providers and midwives to change.  In fairness, there are few businesses that could not be improved by following these core values so, in that respect, there isn’t much that is particular to KM in this list.  Nonetheless, I’d suggest that we haven’t always done a great job of embodying these values and that failure is reflected in our spotty results as a discipline.  As the economic news gets grimmer, it might be timely to think harder about what our core values are and how we live them out in our workplaces.  And then, we need to commit.

I’ll give the last word to Tony Hsieh, from his post Your Culture Is Your Brand:

We believe that it’s really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you’re willing to hire and fire based on them.

[Photo credit: bluedharma, Creative Commons license]

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