Garry Shutler


Establishing team values

May 15, 2009 · 2 min read

One of the biggest things I took from the Progressive .NET tutorials was the idea of establishing a set of values for your team.

This was raised in David Laribee’s session Towards A New Architect where he asked whose team had a set of common values. In a room of 30 or so people, I think 3 or 4 raised their hand.

As soon as it was mentioned it made sense to me. A shared identity and core set of values can only benefit a team. To that end I’m going to run a similar session to the one I participated in in order to establish a set of values for my team.

I thought I might share the format I’m going to use so that others might do the same:

Set up a 1 hour session for discovering your team’s values

5 minutes explaining what we are doing and what we want to achieve:

  • bring common values to the fore
  • give a common identity to the team
  • create a catalyst for improvement


  • 5 minutes writing words or short phrases down
  • 5 minutes converging to write all the different phrases on the board by going round the group
  • 2 minutes dot voting
  • 1 minute selecting top 3-5 by votes


  • 10 minutes to write a sentence explaining why each phrase is important (each person doesn’t have to do each one)
  • 10 minutes coming together, taking each word in turn and sharing sentences all written on the board
  • 2 minutes tweaking and eliminating duplicates
  • 2 minutes dot voting each group of sentences
  • select the favourite sentence for each phrase

Your team now has a set of common values.

Thank the team and tell them you are going to get them printed to put up on the wall. The important thing is that they are visible and prominent.

Important points

  • the number of values should be low – the messages should be simple and strong
  • the values should be visible to the whole team, all the time
  • everyone should be empowered to act to strengthen the values

I’ll blog about what values my team at Open Projects have chosen next week.

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Hey, I’m Garry Shutler

CTO and co-founder of Cronofy.

Husband, father, and cyclist. Proponent of the Oxford comma.

As well as longer form thoughts here, I post shorter thoughts, puns, and bad jokes on Twitter.

Cronofy is hiring! Check out our Engineering Roles.

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