The Social Entrepreneurs story – Values leadership, Scalability & Entrepreneurship

This is the second in a series of small business stories talking entrepreneurship, marketing & technology – bringing you ideas and insights to help your business growth

Today I had the pleasure of talking to a social entrepreneur, Andrew Cochrane who founded Decodeu to change the way organisations and individuals discover and align their values

Inspiration for a business often starts with the founder wanting to solve a problem they experience. The idea for Decodeu came over years of working with different teams of people. Some performed well. Some didn’t. But why?

Once I started doing some research into the reasons behind the variances in performance it became clear that having shared purpose and values has a big impact on the performance of a team and whether they are 100% engaged in the task.

Andrew was determined to develop practical tools to help businesses solve this specific problem. He was motivated by a belief that this would have a positive impact on the performance of businesses and equally importantly enable individuals to make career choices that are better aligned with who they are and what matters to them.

Values drive our behaviour

It begun a two year journey of discovery and research. Looking at world class organisations, high performing teams and the organisational and positive psychology that drives the way we behave the way we do and ,the reasons we connect with some people and not others.

He concluded that the critical factor was having alignment between your values and actions. Where there is not alignment between what we believe and what we do , disengagement is the outcome. Values create our culture & drive our behaviour .When we are not acting in congruence with our values we undermine our performance and potential.

The space between practiced values + aspirational values is the “disengagement divide.” It’s where we lose people’ Brene Brown

Values are the bedrock of culture

By discovering values and their alignment we can address issues of engagement and enable organisations to build great cultures. It’s not always easy to know who will best fit with your organisation or team especially in terms of ideology and belief systems.

Yet attracting and developing the talent that fits your organisation is a critical contributor to its performance, productivity and growth. Hiring the right people is greatly enhanced when you begin with understanding their values .

It could be one team member always meet deadlines, are a stickler for detail & follow the rules. Yet another is a great problem solver who always look for a different and better way to do things. They are not especially fond of following company rules and resist being over managed. The two individuals core values are very different.

When you understand each other’s values, you work better as teams and as a business you can recruit people with values that align with your culture as well as job roles.

What can we, as fellow entrepreneurs and business owners, learn from this start-ups experience?

Lesson 1: Entrepreneurship is a journey and whilst the destination may remain the same the means may change

Decodeu has a big why and a clear purpose which drives everything they do

To unlock human potential to transform individual and organisational wellbeing through discovering, understanding and aligning our values with our actions

It’s motivating and inspirational to everyone involved. And equally the organisations Decodeu are now talking to about applying that in their business are engaged by the company’s vision.

However, the original ideas have changed – they needed to adapt to the needs and stage of the market. The tools had to have scientific rigour. This meant that during the research and validation phase some ideas had to be abandoned because they couldn’t prove the organisational psychology behind the concept. The technical development has been a continual process of -Test, Iterate, Pivot, Change, Win, Test, refresh. And it has taken time to go through that process.

It’s a tough call to stay objective about the ideas you believe in. Andrew has stayed true to his purpose and been prepared to change and adapt his ideas to see that purpose become a reality

I want people to want what I offer because they believe in the purpose behind what we do

Lesson 2: Entrepreneurs don’t follow fads and fashions, they create them – purposefully, starting with WHY

Our issue isn’t just one of economic / social / ecological concerns as in sustainability, but rather is psychological. We need to start with our values and beliefs as the way we see the world defines how we treat the world and nature in general.’ David Suzuki

Sustainability is my ‘big hairy audacious goal’ that’s what motivates me to do what I do each day. Decodeu is how I can positively impact both people and the planet

“This is the meaning piece that keeps me turning up. I believe we need to understand our values first to drive authentic behaviours that in turn can deliver us a sustainable planet and future for generations to come. For me it’s about serving something greater than one’s self and constantly asking the ‘for what purpose’ question with every decision. “

Big ideas, deep thinking! And to see these concepts become a reality at every level of an organisation requires brave choices and a commitment to doing something that isn’t just empty promises or a list of values pinned to a letter head. It requires education and change. It’s a shift in mindset – placing humanity at the forefront of relationships and as the start point for planetary sustainability.

Great businesses don’t follow the rules. They disrupt things to get to a better solution

Lesson 3. To scale on world stage, focus on big problems, ones that the world needs solving

Decodeu is the one of the first tools developed specifically to address the problems of engagement at work and improving performance of teams.

Employee engagement is a massive problem around the globe for organisations large and small. According to a Gallup survey only 13% of people are actively engaged at work. The impact on productivity and performance is immense and Gallup estimates that this costs the US alone $350 billion P.A in lost productivity

Decodeu’s mission is to address this problem. Everything begins with knowing what matters to you .When you are in a job that is incongruent with your values you feel dissatisfied. When you are in a team that doesn’t ‘get you’ you underperform. When you join a business, whose values aren’t aligned with yours you aren’t happy long term.

Lesson 4 Technology enables the business to scale and stay human

Decodeu is a digital business. Andrew runs his business from his Microsoft surface device. Everything sits in the cloud. The big benefits to tech start-ups like Decodeu is that technology enables the business to scale and reach a global audience. Its accessible anytime anywhere. His vision is a flexible mobile workforce with team members anywhere in the world – agile, connected and engaged.

United by their shared purpose and aligned values technology becomes a tool to empower rather than control.

What’s different from many tech start-ups is that Decodeu is looking for scale but with humanity at its core. Whilst the tools are machine delivered the experience is high touch as well as high tech. Decodeu want to use technology to offer a better customer experience.

“I believe that when there is synchronicity between the business mission, team contribution and the technology we can grow at a much faster pace. I can make a bigger impact because the business is agile and able to scale growth at the same speed as I can imagine it”

Lesson 5 Back yourself every day

Being an entrepreneur is both an exciting and a scary journey. You must stay open to learning – to be coachable because you meet so many interesting people with different perspectives from your own. And with an open mind you find solutions. Fear kills more dreams than action ever will! How you overcome fear is a lesson for everyone embarking on their own entrepreneurial journey – be patient, vulnerable, authentic and curious.

You need to believe you are ready, that you are good enough, that you are worthy. It is hard work and to succeed you need to back yourself every day.

No one can see the possibilities as you do. You really have to believe and commit to making it happen”

And as to Andrews values ; top of the list are innovation, collaboration and adaptability. Discover yours with Decodeu’s free app and get your values signature today

Sarah Denby -Jones is a Business Mentor & Strategic advisor for impact driven entrepreneurs. She’s also a Microsoft SMB Ambassador helping small businesses understand how technology can help them market more effectively.

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