Company values – why bother?

Values at Spotify circa 2013

Back in 2013, at Spotify, we had value mantras. Some of them I could relate to, but certainly not all of them. A couple felt completely alien – like forcing on a pair of jeans that weren’t the right cut, when the shopping assistant hadn’t even asked my size.  

The mantras dated back to very early days at Spotify, so they’d been around for some time. An internal team was brought together to decide what we were all about and they came up with five statements that told us how to act.

There was one that was often quoted and still resonates today. I hear it’s echoes bouncing of the corridors in all our offices, even at Intro Days, where new band members come to hear all about #LifeAtspotify. That means only one out of the five is still true to us. And, to be honest, I can see why.

I joined Spotify fairly early on and it just didn’t (and still doesn’t) seem right that a small team of people decide on mantras for all of us. Values are supposed to be the guidelines for the way we should behave, and the beliefs that we should all buy in to, but there were many of us that didn’t know the deeper thinking behind the ‘tagline’ that was the end result.

Switching to Core Values

So in 2013, when the HR team at Spotify really began to up the game, we started looking at values from the beginning. How should our company’s values be decided? What’s the point of values? Should we have mantras (taglines) or core values? How do we get the more skeptical Spotifiers, to give it a go? Should we even bother?…

We’d added more than a thousand new Spotifers to the band, we’d opened new offices all over the world, and launched our product in 57 countries. And the strongest companies are the ones that recognise that buy-in from each and every one of its employees is essential for something so integral. Of course we should bother!

But we knew we’d have to do it differently this time. It was obvious to us that we needed to ask for help from each and every Spotifier to redefine our values. It was absolutely crucial that we made sure they would truly reflect who we were at that time, and who we wanted to be in the future. We had to do this from the roots up. The Spotify way.

The Spotify Passion Tour

In early 2014, the Spotify Passion Tour was born: a series of workshops held across the Spotify offices around the world. The tour was created with the knowledge that the Spotify culture is one of our great strengths. And we would not create value mantras, but instead, core values. There would no longer be cheesy taglines, but well thought-out, descriptive and aspirational values, that are absolutely true to us.

We would all wear the same cut of jeans – one that we all liked. And even if they needed some adjustments – each one of us would eventually end up with a comfortable fit!

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