Creating New Company Values (and Why Yours Might be Wrong)

Here are four reasons your company values may need an overhaul and five steps to make it happen.

Company Values

Recently, we, as a company, took a look at our values and decided that they just didn’t quite feel right anymore. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but they just didn’t…fit anymore. So we decided to revamp them.

It might be time for your company to do the same. Why? Here are a few reasons:

Reason 1: You’ve got too many

George Miller of Harvard University published an article in 1956 that said most people can hold seven or so objects in their short-term memory. Nowadays, it’s surely less. So the more values your company has, the less the chances your employees will remember them!

Reason 2: Your values are actually attributes

Value: principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important

Attribute: a quality or feature regarded as characteristic or inherent

Many companies will employ words such as “loyalty,” “transparency,” and “trust” as part of their published set of values. However, these are not values. They are attributes, according to the definitions of the words, respectively. In the end, they are outcomes of what your values should be, they are not your values themselves.

Reason 3: Your values aren’t simple or actionable

Values should be written in simple, non-jargon language that is easy to understand and action. They shouldn’t be written for a single team…they should be understandable by everyone at the company.

One word? Too short.

A full sentence? Too long.

A whole paragraph? No. Just no.

Between two and six words? Juuuuust right.

Reason 4: Your values are too different from how you are

A company value should do one of two things:

  1. Help you articulate who you are right now
  2. Guide actions to enable you to be a certain way in the future

Values are not a magic wand that you can wave and magically change your company culture. They can guide behavior, but they can’t change behavior overnight. If an employee can look at your values and not see themselves there, what do you think they’re going to do? Leave? Unlikely. They’re just going to ignore the values!

Values should be aspirational. They should help you strive to be the best person, team and company that you can be. But if they’re too different from how you actually are, then no one is going to follow them.

After some self-assessment and soul-searching, we came up with our brand new set of company values. Hopefully, they can be a guide to a revision of your company’s as well (if that’s needed)!

Bring the weird 🃏

We value and embrace what makes us different.

  • Embracing fun, play and spontaneity gives us access to different ways of connecting and working with each other
  • A sense of play helps us find cool ways to surprise and delight our users ✨
  • Don’t be afraid of sharing our weirdness with the world—it’s what makes us distinctive

Be real with each other 💚

We acknowledge the whole human, not just the role.

  • Through empathy, we can all feel safe and seen
  • Be honest about how we’re going, and be willing to help each other
  • Seek and provide timely feedback in a kind and constructive way
  • Communicate clearly and openly with each other, our partners and our users

Empower others 🤝

Our teams are diverse, and our people are distributed — we provide everything they need to do their best work.

  • We acknowledge and embrace our differences, and give everyone a chance to flourish
  • We give every team the context and direction required to do their jobs
  • We trust everyone to make decisions and get things done
  • When we make mistakes, we learn from them, fix them and move on
  • Our tools help users solve problems in their own way

Maintain momentum 🚣

Continuous Delivery is all about shipping quickly and often, and we embody this in how we approach our work.

  • Shipped is better than perfect—we value momentum over perfection
  • Drive a sense of urgency and energy in the work you do
  • It’s okay to break production, but not people

Build it together 👯‍♀️

Magic happens when we collaborate directly with our customers, with our colleagues, and with our peers across the industry.

  • By helping foster a strong and vibrant community of pro developer tools, we help the world discover and fall in love with us
  • We treat our users like peers by supporting them well and building great relationships
  • We work closely with users on our product’s direction


Eleanor Toulmin is Head of Business Operations of Buildkite, the fastest and most secure way to test and deploy software at any scale. The company’s continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD) platform allows teams of all sizes to run fast, secure and scalable pipelines on their own infrastructure. Founded in 2014, the company was the first to introduce a self-hosted agent model and now supports over 1,000 customers across the world.