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Recently I had the privilege to attend Verne Harnish’s Scaling Up Summit in Dallas. This three-day conference allowed us to analyze, strategize and plan how to provide the most value to our Sidecar members. There were plenty of takeaways that we’ll dive into in upcoming blogs, but one of our biggest was updating our core values. 

While it wasn’t an easy process, it was enlightening and is something that all associations can find value in doing. 

Why Are Your Organizational Values Important?

In his book Scaling Up, Verne compares organizations to successful athletes. They all need a strong core, which is critical for stability, power, and control. For associations, values create that core and help your organization stay focused in the face of adversity and keep staff and members engaged. 

They’re also critical for the day-to-day operations of your organization. “Core values are the rules and boundaries that define the company’s culture and personality, and provide a final ‘Should/Shouldn’t’ test for all behaviors and decisions by everyone,” Verne says.  

In other words, your organization's values are not only the promise you’re making to your members, but they’re also the gauge by which your team measures success, quantifies strategies and governs themselves. 

How We Rewrote Ours

After morning flights and our first full day of conference sessions under our belt, we sat down to talk through our values. While we already had values written out, we purposefully didn't look at them. Instead, we handled it like a discovery process.  

We took notes as we went, dropping them in a spreadsheet as a reference but not spending any time trying to craft them into well-written phrases. Instead, the goal was to think through everything we felt represented being a part of Sidecar – complete with adjectives and anecdotes. 

One of the key parts of that process was thinking through the things we like best about how our team functions. As Verne suggested, we asked ourselves: What moments have embodied who our team really is? When we’re at our best, what were we doing and how were we acting? And when something didn’t fit quite right, what was happening then, too? 

After some rest, we came back to them with a fresh set of eyes and started crafting our new core values. As Verne says, “don’t carve them into stone.” Instead, look to see whether or not those values represent the day-to-day organization. If not, they can be adjusted, but the key thing to remember is that everyone in your organization should know them. 

Sidecar’s Updated Core Values

So, now that you understand the mindset behind our values and how we workshopped them, here are Sidecar’s new core values: 

Ask ‘why?’ 

We know that it’s easier to just stick with something because “that’s how we’ve always done it,” but we think looking at the possibilities and experimenting is better. 

We sum this up with a simple - ask “why?”

Sure, not everything will be a success, but stepping out of your comfort zone, experimenting and asking questions – even when it’s scary – is how you can grow as an organization and as a professional. 

Seek the unexpected. 

There’s a lot to know and learn in the association space, but we also seek to gain insights and perspectives from outside our industry. 

From learning about the branding strategy behind Popeye’s Chicken to lessons on diversity from an old NFL rule, we like to think there are joyful surprises to be found in every corner of the world. 

Practice what we preach. 

At our core, we create professional development resources for association professionals. 


But we can’t ask an industry to change, learn or grow without doing the same. That’s why every team member takes courses, attends events and joins webinars. Not only does this help us develop our skills, but it also gives us fun lessons to bring back to our members. 

Stay weird. 

One of the things I’ve loved the most about joining Sidecar has been the freedom and fun that stems from all of us just being ourselves. 

So whether that means dog cameos in our daily huddles, fun GIFs in the emails you get from us or a bit of personality in the content we create – we like ourselves, we like each other and we’re not afraid to share that with you. 

Fly together. 

We’re all about hard work and innovation, but we also know there needs to be space to step back when we need it. 

So, our team “flies” in a V formation – when someone is ready to take the lead, they can, but when they need support, we always create an environment where they can step back and let the rest of the team keep them flying. 

Together, these carefully crafted values create our core purpose: growing leaders at every level, and that’s what you can expect when you visit our site, read our blog or join us for one of our events. 

Why You Might Need a Values Temperature Check

The part that I appreciated most in re-writing our core values was the honesty it took. While our OG values were carefully written when the company was founded – we had to understand that Sidecar looked, thought and felt a lot different today than it did a few years ago. And that’s likely the case for any organization. 

That openness allowed us to look at our team, explore our accomplishments, evaluate our goals and aspirations, and create values that represented precisely that. They’re the “north star” that helps us stay connected with our purpose while also acknowledging and appreciating what makes us Sidecar. 

Jose Triana
Post by Jose Triana
May 26, 2022
Jose Triana is a writer and creative focused on helping purpose-driven organizations learn and find value online. When he isn't working on content, you can catch him going for a run or resting with a good book.