We’re a values-driven group of people and we’re a values-driven business. It’s hard to be a values-driven organisation without clearly articulating them. So last year we started to write down our values. Despite our best intentions they were too generic. Unintentionally they had ended up not sounding like us, so we changed direction and instead we wrote down the positions we hold on certain issues.
This has allowed us to be a bit more pointed and more timely. Positions can evolve over time. These are of course informed by our values but these positions feel like a clearer, more direct articulation of them. They better reflect who we are as an organisation.
One of the reasons for doing this is to help us navigate who we partner with and who we work with. Given the nature of the work we do and the size of our ambition there are no simple or easy answers here. So we have also created Criteria to help us evaluate new opportunities and an Ethics & Risk committee to discuss borderline cases. We will blog about that separately.
One of the positions we hold is that ‘openness is something all organisations should value and practice’ therefore today we are publishing our positions in full here and they will live permanently at public.digital/our-positions.
Public Digital positions
Public purpose defines us and our work. We want to do work that benefits the world and improves lives. We’re not interested in projects that are simply about selling more unsustainable goods, or for the financial benefit of a small number of already-wealthy individuals. We want to work on things that matter, because they help ordinary people.
Working at scale is the best way to make that positive difference. We work with presidents, prime ministers and CEOs because they influence large budgets and large organisations. Focusing on the biggest problems will have the greatest impact for the largest number of people.
Optimism counts in an era where pessimism is prevalent. We have worked with too many good people, in too many different parts of the world, to see the world any other way. We believe that most people want to do the best work that they can, to improve the lives of as many people as possible.
Internet-era ways of working are the key to successful transformation. They are often not that hard to implement, if they have support and explicit encouragement from the people at the very top. Most teams know what they need to do in order to change; what they lack is permission to get on with it.
Community and consensus were the values that shaped the internet from its earliest days, and we think they matter. We don’t blindly follow the high-paid person’s opinion.
Teams are the fundamental unit of delivery. If you want your organisation to deliver, and to truly transform itself for the internet era, you should start funding teams instead of projects.
The best teams are diverse teams. We value and encourage diversity. We recognise that the Public Digital team is still not diverse enough, and we’re striving to improve that.
Honesty is a valuable asset. We tell our clients what they need to hear, even if it’s not necessarily good news, or news they want to hear. Even when it’s not in our best interest to tell them. We believe our clients benefit from openness and candour.
Openness is something all organisations should value and practice. We’re as open as we can be without breaking client confidentiality. We believe that making things open makes them better.
We’re pragmatists; we know not everything can be perfect, all of the time. We know that circumstances and events can sometimes interfere with the best-laid plans. We accept that the real world sometimes gets in the way; that’s why we advocate agile ways of working.