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The importance of knowing how things are done

You've probably got your vision sorted. Your company mission too. And you know how important your purpose is. But how about your philosophies?


A business is broader than its mission or vision statement. As you grow, when new people join your team, they need to know how things are done across every aspect of the organisation. Instilling your overarching objectives and future vision are important, but your philosophies will help your team fulfil them.

Guiding principles

A business philosophy is essentially a set of guiding principles that reflect your values and align with your purpose, mission and vision. They should steer actions, decisions, processes and culture across the business.

So where to start with crafting your philosophies?

What it shouldn’t be…

It’s not a place for buzzwords or industry jargon. It’s also not a place for conceptual statements or ethereal thinking – try to keep your inner Plato and Aristotle at bay.

What it should be…

You want your philosophies to be something your team can really live, that can steer their behaviours, approach and how they get things done across the business.

That doesn’t mean it needs to be stuffy and staid – we’re not talking health and safety policy here – it should be motivating and galvanising.

Google take an interesting approach with ‘Ten things we know to be true’. Boiling their philosophy down into ten truths that govern everything they do:

1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.

2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well.

3. Fast is better than slow.

4. Democracy on the web works.

5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.

6. You can make money without doing evil.

7. There’s always more information out there.

8. The need for information crosses all borders.

9. You can be serious without a suit.

10. Great just isn’t good enough.

Patagonia are a brand that do things right in so many ways. They think “The philosophy of clothing design is really no different from that of other products, including buildings.” When they are creating a new retail store or office building, they always look to optimise function, responsibility, and aesthetics – a philosophy you can see reflected in their products too.


Some practical steps

Ready to get your philosophies down on paper? Here are some first steps:

Review your vision, mission and purpose

This is where everything will stem from, make sure you’re 100% happy with them.

Ask philosophical questions

Not the meaning of life, but questions like how do you want people to feel? (internally and clients) What does day to day success look like? What’s your culture utopia? Start with the big thinking and then ground it.

Think about what will unite your team

Your philosophies need to be something everyone can get behind and unite on. What will strengthen and motivate your team?

Get feedback

Make it a collaborative exercise, bounce ideas off your leadership team, test ideas with the wider business and even ask trusted clients if your philosophies are authentic and recognisable.


The well-oiled machine

When everyone knows why they are doing things (purpose), what doing the things will achieve (mission and vision) and how to do things (philosophies) you get a well-oiled machine. A cohesive, energised, focused and efficient team who can operate with autonomy and are empowered to do their best work.

Is philosophy the missing cog in your well-oiled machine? They could power a bigger and better future for you and your business.