How we arrived at our company values

Dan Boultby
Aug 9, 2019 · 7 min read

Over the last two years working at Push Doctor, I’ve been fortunate to play a part in some exciting projects. It became immediately clear within minutes of my first day that working for a start-up was a far cry from what I was used to. There is nowhere to hide, and it is very much a case of being thrown in at the deep end at times — but with that comes a much greater sense of ownership and achievement.

Since I started, projects have come thick and fast, and although we have changed direction to varying extents, we have always been driving towards the same goal. With so much going on at any point in time, as a company we became quite conscious of the fact that things from the outside looking in could look quite hectic.

With that came one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on, establishing our brand values and what they mean, both internally to our employees and externally to our patients and stakeholders. As we scale, we believe it is more important than ever to make sure that we lay the foundations and communicate to our stakeholders with absolute clarity about what we are trying to achieve. We ran this project completely in-house and although we are far from finished, we wanted to share our progress — the process we have been through so far, where we’re at today, and how we plan to roll everything out when the time comes.

Brand values brain storm session
Brand values brain storm session

Starting out — Three questions

From the outset, one thing was clear. Our company values needed to be born from our people. The journey so far hasn’t been without its bumps in the road and we have experienced some very challenging periods. If there is one thing we can confidently say about Push Doctor, it is that we have great people throughout the business.

From our Tech and Marketing teams, to Design and CX, we see commitment and passion every day from people who are invested in Push Doctor, and know it inside out.

So with that in mind, the first step we took was to get every single person in the business to take part in a workshop arriving at 3 simple questions:

  • To you personally, who / what are we as a business internally and what are the key principles/characteristics we live by?
  • What impact are we having on our patients lives now and what impact do we want to have on their lives in the future?
  • What are you most proud of in working for Push Doctor?

The output

Typically, with sessions like these, half of the battle is encouraging people to speak up and get involved. Our workshops were no different. There were more than a few blank expressions to start with, with no one wanting to be too keen, and patiently waiting for someone else to make the first move. As soon as we reached the final question, things changed. People really started to open up at this point, particularly when I opened up to the room about what I are proud of working at Push Doctor citing examples of other amazing stories I had heard of around the business about the people in the room with me. People opened up so much to this question that we changed all remaining sessions to ensure this was the first we asked to kick things off.

What was clear from the output of these sessions was that our company values clearly already existed, they just may not have been written down on paper yet. Everyone had different, personal takes on a very similar idea of what we are striving for and what we are trying to achieve. What really struck me is that ultimately everyone feels very privileged to be working for a company that can potentially make a huge and positive impact on people’s lives. Most importantly, for me at least, it was clear that:

  • Overwhelmingly, our people believe in what we are doing and really do care
  • We want to empower our patients to lead a better life and our doctors to provide better care for our patients
  • We will always do the right thing to keep our patients safe, even if it has negative consequences for us
  • Ensuring we take the time to fully understand problems before we dive and attempt to solve them is of utmost importance
  • We want to be completely transparent and work together with our patients, our doctors and all stakeholders to make a difference

Creating the values — Phase 1 Pillars and principles

We took the above words, all of which were consistently used throughout our sessions, and combined them with a few other pieces we had pulled together including patient reviews (and complaints), doctor feedback and learnings from marketing campaigns we had run previously.

We started to separate the keywords to give them a bit more of a structure arriving at 4 key pillars which we believed everyone could remember, along with 3 key principles or behaviours which make up the pillars. Here is what we arrived at:

Whilst the meaning was there behind the pillars and principles we had chosen, we instantly thought there were far too many of them and as such, nobody would remember them. This kind of defeated the purpose of the exercise with us hoping to arrive at something everyone believes in, that the company is built upon and that could be our lighthouse in a storm. Most importantly for this to be the case, it was clear it had to be much sharper and snappier. A view which was very much backed up when we took this back to the business to do a sense check.

Brand values reserch session
Brand values reserch session

Clear, concise and memorable values

At this point our content team began to take more of a leading role. To ensure our values were memorable and meaningful, we decided we wanted to get to just 3 words with an internal and external meaning for each word.

Internal — What does this mean for our people. These are the values we aim to put into every project we work on, the values we protect within the business and which we recruit on.

External — What do they mean for our patients and how do we demonstrate them. How do we ensure that these values are reflected in every touch point our patient has with our people and our business?

On the face of it, this step should be the simplest, the leg work is done. In reality, distilling the meaning and sentiment behind the thoughts and feelings behind everything that had gone before it, and arriving at just 3 words proved much more challenging. It was very much a case of constant iteration, feedback and time spent debating in a meeting room until we arrived at what we now have.

But what are the meanings behind them? Our content team took the lead on this project to ensure that the feedback we had in the investigation stage was incorporated into the meanings. What they arrived at, we are really proud of and hope will live with the business as we go into our next stage of growth.

What empathy means within Push Doctor.
What empathy means within Push Doctor.
What empathy means within Push Doctor.
External empathy slide
External empathy slide
What empathy means outside of Push Doctor.
Internal ambition slide
Internal ambition slide
What ambition means within Push Doctor.
External ambition slide
External ambition slide
What ambition means outside of Push Doctor.
Internal resilience slide
Internal resilience slide
What resilience means within Push Doctor.
External resilience slide
External resilience slide
What resilience means outside of Push Doctor.

Patient Feedback

Touch points with the patient was a priority from the offset, but actually ended up being even more vital than we perhaps anticipated. Patient feedback and the direction it gives us is fundamental to the direction of the product, so it was so important to us that our patients are bought into the values we hold and the journey we are on. This (hopefully) comes through in one of the values itself, in Empathy, but steered the whole process.

We held sessions with patients throughout to arrive where we are now through our in-house research space, which we call the PoD. It’s a good job we did, because it really highlighted how easy it is to get caught up in your own
bubble if you don’t reach out for feedback. Feedback told us how, at points, we were underselling some of the key benefits of our product, and at others we weren’t being as clear as we thought. Case in point, on one or two occasions, the wording we had experimented with was deemed either “wishy washy”, or “like something Ghandi would have said”. It was clear at this moment that we needed to remain grounded and clear, never veering too far into the aspirational and intangible. We feel the explanations already presented straddle the two quite nicely.

We’ll be sharing more about the brand strategy process in the weeks to come. Next up, it’s well worth checking out Ellen’s recent piece for a thorough account of how we presented brand elements to the general public.

Push Doctor

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