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Consortium for Service Innovation

Culture Prompts

Consortium Members compiled this list of values that creates conditions for adaptive teams. This is offered as a jumping-off point for a conversation about the culture around “how we want to work together” in your organization. It is not meant to be prescriptive or exhaustive, nor is it meant to be a list of values to impose upon a team.

Note that we are referring to values as the KCS v6 Practices Guide describes them: “...the rules of conduct: the guiding principles for our activities and behaviors in achieving the purpose."

Use this list to consider these questions with your team:

  • Does this list reflect the way we want to work together?  What’s missing?
  • How do these intersect/overlap with our stated corporate values?
  • What do these things look like in our environment now?
  • Is there anything here that we need to get better at or think about differently?  How about in times of stress or chaos?


Each value listed below includes examples of how the value might be evident in how we work together.

Be Curious

  • Search for knowledge, seek to always be learning
  • No one has all the answers; ask questions with an open mind
  • Data and analysis override opinion
  • In complex environments, multiple things can be true; paradox and ambiguity invite inquiry.

Be Brave

  • We can do hard things together.
  • Calculated risks are encouraged and failure is one way we learn.
  • Engaging others with different opinions is one way we build bridges.
  • We aim for strong opinions loosely held; we are brave enough to change our minds.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Judgment and flexibility are required. There will be exceptions to the rules/norms.
  • Be thoughtful and explicit about where priorities conflict.

Be Empathetic

  • Recognize colleagues and customers as humans worthy of care, who are whole, capable, and resourceful.
  • Act with good intent and assume positive intent from others.
  • Show appreciation for others: respect their individuality and knowledge and value their time.
  • Listen. Seek to further understand other perspectives while recognizing we may never fully understand other perspectives.
  • We practice patience and understanding over frustration and judgment with all interactions (context is as important as content!) 

Be a Collaborative Teammate

  • Collaborate beyond boundaries: engage anyone (including colleagues and customers) that can help deliver the best outcome.
  • Clarity is kindness. Clarify intent and expectations. 
  • Aim for collective success over individual success.
  • Embrace generosity and reciprocity.
  • Value collective experience: recognize we are each here for a reason and have something to contribute.
  • Seek to understand before seeking to solve: demonstrate diplomacy.
  • We embrace feedback, especially as it relates to the outcomes we’re contributing to.
  • We take our work seriously without taking ourselves too seriously.

Share What You Know

  • Participate and contribute wherever and however you can. Your big picture view is different from everyone else’s; bring what you know to the table.
  • We disagree (discuss) and commit.
  • Communicate; keep stakeholders informed.
  • Capture knowledge and share it freely. If it’s interesting to you, it’s probably interesting to others.
  • Search early, search often. What do we collectively know about this question already?
  • We share good news AND bad news / mistakes.

Be Accountable

  • Own the responsibility that comes with your job even if there isn’t a clear roadmap. 
  • Focus on making an impact instead of just staying busy. Deliver what matters. 
  • Exercise judgment.
  • Ask for help when you need it.   
  • Know and live our brand promise and values.
  • Be willing to surface topics that need discussion, don't shy away from discomfort.

Cultivate a Growth Mindset

  • Challenge yourself.
  • Take initiative. Be a “maker.” (We take action on what we can.)
  • We invest in ourselves and in the organization.
  • Mentor and be mentored; be willing to share what you learn, and learn from others around you.
  • We are thoughtful and explicit about plans for learning and growth.
  • We value and encourage self-improvement.       
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