Mantras reflect teams and culture

George Brooks

Business

Human cultures and traditions have used mantras to create focus and clarity throughout our history. Buddhism and Hinduism believe that mantras are spiritual or mystical, and produce focus for a distracted mind. Christianity uses mantras as worship and adoration. Repeating scripture or words of praise to keep oneself focused on God. Ancient stories became mantras as they are repeated and passed down through generations.

Mantras in business

Bill Murray meme

In a team, mantras do much of the same thing as they have in history. They give the organization and culture repeatable and memorable sound bites for focusing on how to make themselves and the team better.

These mantras might be different than your mission/vision statements or your core values. Thought they will likely point back to these things. Mantras are usually statements that the team naturally starts to use themselves because they reflect a value or belief inside the culture of the company.

Mantras we hear around Crema:

product team working together

“We are in the business of people we just happen to build apps”

If you are thinking this way then just copy and paste the first part of this, and then drop in whatever you do at the end. This is true of every business. We think that because all we do is think about our products or services that these things exist in their own universe. They don’t. Everything we do is to help humans be better, do better or enjoy more.

“What if?”

a man taking a leap of faith off a rock into the ocean

As we grow internally or work with our clients, we always have the attitude of experimentation and validation. So by asking “what if”, you allow yourself and the team to say, lets maybe try it and see what happens.

It’s an experiment, we’ll see what happens.

a lizard taking a leap of faith

This is often times what we’ll say walking out of a strategy meeting after saying “What if”, and then putting together some tactics to try towards our what if goal. It gives a sense of hope and opportunity to try. Try and fail, maybe. Or try and succeed. But either way. Try and learn.

“What’s best next?”

planning what's next

This is a mantra that we encourage our team to use to think about the generosity of their time. As each person looks at the many tasks on their plate and starts to think about how to tackle it all, the question, What’s best next gives focus to what is in priority quadrants. Focus on big rocks versus the putting out the fires all day every day.

“Option 5 it!”

skydiving

Years ago we started to put together a system for how we qualified out leads or potential clients. What’s the best fit? We went through four different unique clear and well thought through plans of how to say yes, to the right thing with the right people, and how to say no to the wrong thing, that may become the wrong opportunity. When the first four options don’t really fit perfectly in the neat box of opportunity planning, then you go with “Option 5.” Say YES, and figure it out.

“Don’t recreate the moon”

phases of the moon

This was the beginning of a bunch of statements I would say that were just wrong. I have a tendency to combine two different mantras or statements. The point I was trying to make here was, “Don’t recreate the wheel” as we “Shoot for the moon” But why say more words when you can just mash up a sentence like this. The team will still use this.

“Client’s gonna client”

client meeting and agreement

Actually, this is a t-shirt that we keep saying that we are going to make. This going back to our first mantra that we are in the business of people. The reality is that our job is to work within the goals, desires, longings, constraints, and distractions of our clients. It what we do. And sometimes our clients do things that rather than us getting mad or frustrated, we just have to say, “Well, Client’s gonna client”

“Let’s validate it”

test tubes

We often use lean methodologies or vocabulary to look at ways that we build better products and experiences. We try to hold things loosely so that we can test our assumptions and prove to some extent that we are headed in the right direction.

“How can we iterate on this?”

abstract light

Building custom software is hard. Especially when you want to shoot for the moon. In order to break it down and look for ways to release faster and learn, you have to think about how you can boil your idea down to a simple approach that can be refined and iterated on. We also do this for ourselves. Our language. our tools.

“Ignorance is bliss”

team work

Right!?! Sometimes it’s the scariest thing to realize that you don’t know what you don’t know. But sometimes that ignorance lets you move forward with no fear to hold you back. This is one reason we love hiring fresh young talent. They have no reason to think that going big isn’t an option.

What are your mantras?

Whats the repeatable things that you say that shapes your culture? They might change over time, but do you have that statement or saying that gets thrown out on a regular basis that the team rallies behind?

Originally posted on Ideas by Crema - Medium, Sept 21.2017

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