How we work

A manifesto for a good organization

I’ve been considering what appeals to me in certain organizations. These characteristics outline, for me, what a good organization looks like—the kind of place I’d like to work at or support.

  • We do few things, well.
  • We know that everything we do impacts people. As a result, we meet and work with those affected by our work, as dignified equals.
  • We’re conscious and deliberate about why we exist—what and how we work flows clearly from that why.
  • We don’t do work we don’t believe in, because we recognize that association is endorsement.
  • We work with other people, but without too many layers—ours is a model of independent collaborators.
  • We work alongside smart, extremely capable people who we can consider friends.
  • We have a physical presence: in each others’ lives, in the lives of those we serve or work with, and in our community.
  • We value sustainability and continuity. We’re not indispensable, but people work with us because we do excellent work. Furthermore, the planet isn’t hurt by our success.
  • We value enduring quality—even if at our short-term disadvantage.
  • We’re not precious about process or tools—we focus on outcomes, achieving them however best suits the situation. That said, everything we do is informed and constrained by our values: though we adapt our approach, we insist on respecting some ethical lines.
  • We deliver concrete value—people walk away satisfied, without needing to justify their experience or expense.
  • We do enough to get by, happily.
  • We enable others, facilitating their success.