January, 2015

What happens when you run a company based on principles instead of goals? How do the executives with business development responsibility perform without revenue numbers to meet? How is morale affected when no one knows if you’ve hit your growth targets? The answers to these questions might surprise you.

At Jabian, we operate our business based on our Ten Guiding Principles. These are our core values and represent the real measure of how we define success. The Guiding Principles are:

  1. Hire only the best people for a career, not a job
  2. Have fun
  3. Serve our local communities
  4. Balance what is right for the firm, our people, and our communities
  5. Be trusted advisors
  6. Be thought leaders
  7. Treat every interaction with clients, our communities, and our people as our most important
  8. Create rewarding career opportunities and strong teams
  9. Pursue the right work
  10. Take a marathon, not a sprint approach to everything


That’s it. That’s how we determine if we’re being successful. Missing from this list are traditional ‘success metrics’ such as growth of X%, churn of less than X%, quarter-over-quarter revenue increases, and so on and so on. Do we care about revenue, growth, and profit? Absolutely. Do we think it will  make our work, our clients, or our people better if they spend time focusing on them? Absolutely not. We are a principle-driven, goal-oriented firm, rather than the more traditional goal-driven, principle-oriented model.

Consider the following example. “Steve” is in a regular company meeting. During a presentation, the CEO tells everyone that revenue is down from projections and sales are critical over the next quarter. The next day a customer asks Steve about one of their solutions. Steve knows that this solution isn’t the best choice for the customer, but he also heard his boss say that they need more sales. What does Steve do?

An answer to that question might be, why even put Steve in that position in the first place? If Steve was acting in the best interest of his customer, he could have worked with them to find the best solution, even if it was a lower cost one. The result is a happy customer likely to do future business with Steve’s company. Alternatively, Steve could feel pressure about the sale, talk the customer into a poor decision, and never do business with them again. Short term gains result from short term thinking. Steve would unquestionably be better off taking a marathon, not a sprint approach.

When people are focused on doing their best work instead of profits first, a magical thing happens – they actually do their best work. And that leads to growth, revenue, and profit. As you think about your own organization, consider if you’re being driven by principles or goals, and what you could accomplish following the Jabian model.