When Alex Gibb and Greta Monstavičė started Katalista Ventures, the values discussion happened on Day 1. Together, they defined three values they wanted to live by in the new organisation: Everlearning, Resilient, and Triple Top Line. Instead of having quarterly KPIs review, which was more reflective of what they DO, they created values follow-ups, which spoke more about who they wanted to BE.
If it weren’t for such an approach, the startup journey would have ended around the 1-2 years mark. Back then, sustainability and triple top line thinking were an unexplored area, with little interest from startups and large organisations to be more sustainable. However, the values served as a guiding compass to build a pipeline, expand the sustainability ecosystem in Lithuania, and build our expertise and credibility in the area. Values, not KPIs, made Katalista Ventures last to this day.
Photo: First pen & paper values follow-up
Values follow-ups are an essential way to connect and reflect as a team
Almost five years later, Katalista Ventures is a diverse team of startup, sustainability, and innovation experts. We hosted multiple accelerators with impact-driven startups globally, we are active players among impact investors and accelerators in Europe, and we constantly work to create ways to scale and measure the impact of our startups and organisations we work with. To this day, quarterly values follow-ups are an essential way we connect and reflect as a team.
For half a day, we gather together as a team in a picked location, which is different than our usual office setting, be it a cafe, a coworking space, or someone’s yard. We spend several hours looking back at the past three months to reflect on the occasions when we learned something new, exercised our resilience muscle, and had a positive impact on People, Planet and Profit. We dedicate time for individual, as well as group reflection, sharing our experiences and learnings with each other in a safe space based on trust, openness, and vulnerability. The sessions are almost therapeutical, leaving us feeling more connected and motivated to continue working on our mission.
Photo: July 2022 Values Follow-up
Photo: Example of a values follow-up
Aside from the quarterly values follow-up, we strive to reflect and integrate our values into our strategy and our daily activities. Reflecting as a group at the end of big projects or particularly tough meetings allows us to see how we can learn from each other. In order to be more resilient, we also need the right set of skills and expertise that allows us to adapt quickly and bounce back from setbacks. This led us to map a skills matrix to plan our individual career growth. The Triple Top Line serves as a lens for choosing startups and projects we want to work with.
Knowing your personal values first makes it more likely to connect to your company’s values
Developing the company values when you are just getting started or, if you are in a large organisation, doing it together with your direct team builds the foundation for a strong, high-impact culture and provides tools to make decisions and set priorities. An important aspect that makes company values effective is how they align with each team member’s personal values. If you know your own values, you are more likely to connect with those of your company. SelfLeaders’s Values Tree is a great tool to define personal values, and start reflecting on what culture you want to build in your team.
Once your company values have been defined, it’s important to be intentional by dedicating time to reflect on them. We found that quarterly follow-ups work best for us, but it can be different for other teams. Equally important is seeking opportunities to exercise your values regularly. It could be a 5-minute reflection after a meeting, a weekly checkout with the team, a debriefing team call after a project, and so on.
The most important lesson we learned on this journey of building a resilient and impactful team is to do things collaboratively and to rely on our values to bring on the positive change we want. This would not have been possible had we boxed ourselves in narrow definitions and KPIs. Being able to connect with others as individuals driven by common values is at the foundation of an organisation that can adapt to challenges, innovate quickly, and thrive in uncertain times.