Dice HQ

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything

Words by Patrick Duffy

Values are essential to understanding who we are – yet oh-so tricky to get right. Our Executive Creative Director, Patrick Duffy, reflects on how we defined DICE’s core values.

Let’s be honest, the term ‘company values’ has a bit of a bad reputation. It can conjure the image of yawn-inducing buzzwords blazoned across corporate walls and websites, or be associated with businesses who’ve been caught not practising what they preach. Like Enron, who famously listed its values as ‘Respect, Integrity, Communication, Excellence’. Even more famously, it committed accounting and corporate fraud, went bankrupt, and its executives were sent to prison. But they’re not the only ones guilty of hypocrisy – we’ve all interacted with companies who lean on ‘teamwork’ and ‘trust’ and ‘innovation’ as their values, yet don’t necessarily apply them to the day-to-day running of their business.

We
actually
value
values
more
than
we
realise.
In
fact,
we
all
grew
up
with
them.

While values barely get a mention in music (I did a quick search on my phone: 20 songs with ‘believe’ in the title, zero songs with ‘value’), or literature (I didn’t do a search of all my books but I’m pretty sure none of them talk about values apart from the boring corporate ones), we actually value values more than we realise. In fact, we all grew up with them. Although we may not have had a Core Values Statement carved into our front door or printed in a manual, our parents, guardians and teachers likely had a values system they lived by, and encouraged us to live by, too. ‘Be polite’, ‘Don’t talk to strangers’, ‘Look out for your family’. These codes of conduct, for better or worse, influenced how we lived our lives and gave us a sense of how to behave in the world. We may have even had the opportunity to define our own values, in opposition or rebellion. Ultimately, we figure out who we are by figuring out what we believe in, and we form connections with others who share the same beliefs.

We
figure
out
who
we
are
by
figuring
out
what
we
believe
in,
and
we
form
connections
with
others
who
share
the
same
beliefs.

Figuring out who we are and what we believe in was the guiding principle behind establishing DICE’s own values. We knew that this wasn’t just a creative writing exercise – the values that we would codify had to reflect all of us, and give us purpose and pride in what we do here at DICE. So, we started with some conversations. 

Representatives from different teams answered simple questions about what they value about DICE. What did we respect about each other? What did we appreciate about the products we make? The idea was to capture opinions from across the business to make sure the values we defined would resonate with everyone. One of the big themes was passion. Hearing all the positive things people had to say about the company, and the enthusiasm they have for what we do here, was a pretty magical experience. We talked at length about how energising this can be, and how it spurs us all on to do better work. The fact that the company was ‘people-centric’ and ‘human’ also came up a lot. It sounds obvious – most companies are composed of human people, after all – but it was great to hear that they felt valued as individuals; this was something we knew we had to protect. Everything we do at DICE is aimed at bringing people together to share real, unrepeatable experiences, so it’s essential that this value runs through the organisation, too.

We
talked
about
how
energising
our
enthusiasm
for
the
company
can
be,
and
how
it
spurs
us
all
on
to
do
better
work.

The last big theme was support. As a team, we all valued the idea that there could be someone to reach out to and ask for help, whether that’s for a personal or work-related challenge. Being inside a fast-moving company with such big ambitions can be daunting, but recognising that we aren’t perfect and we can count on one another for help – or when we mess up, because we most certainly will – makes all the difference. By sharing the load and never letting a culture of fear develop, we can make that fast-moving environment a happy one. 

All these conversations led to a lot of great data and a bunch of real insights, but now we had to transform them into something tangible that we could all stand for, proudly. We went down the tried-and-tested route of picking the words that most represented what we valued – passion, support, gratitude – but although the sentiments of the teams were represented, it wasn’t particularly inspiring… and it all felt a bit Enrony.

Recognising
that
we
aren’t
perfect
and
we
can
count
on
one
another
for
help
or
when
we
mess
up,
because
we
most
certainly
will
makes
all
the
difference.

Phil, our Founder and CEO, suggested thinking about what these words really meant in a practical sense and how we could translate them into language we can all relate to. So, we sat down together and created the following core values and behaviours that define what DICE stands for as a company.

We have each other’s back

  • We give each other the freedom to call out politics, challenge authority and experiment
  • We are inclusive
  • We show gratitude
  • We listen actively
  • We are there when our colleagues need us
  • We support each other’s passions

We are actively responsible

  • We ask ‘how can I help to solve this?’ 
rather than ‘why did they get it wrong?’ 
  • We are all empowered to call out problems
  • We fix problems as they occur, not later 
  • We are actively anti-racist 
  • We communicate our mistakes in order to learn from them
  • We show respect for other people’s time
  • We prioritise the mission above personal or team goals

If we say it, we do it

  • Nothing is impossible 
  • We don’t let our teammates down
  • We maintain focus 
  • Great ideas are only valuable if they’re well executed
  • But remember: not everything will work (and that’s OK)

As well as these three core values, we codified something else that has always guided what we do as a company. It’s a phrase that you’ll hear repeated more than any other at DICE, and so we defined this as our Golden Rule.

Our only customer is the fan.

Now, this isn’t intended to be literal. We work with artists, venue owners, promoters and festivals, and we’re trying to make the industry better for all of us. But at the heart of everything we do, and everything our partners do, is the fan – and no matter what we’re working on, it always, always has to be for their benefit. 

The road ahead is littered with challenges, and navigating them will require constant commitment. We’ve made mistakes and we’re bound to make more. But knowing that we’re working together, with a shared set of values that we can truly believe in, makes those challenges seem less challenging. Who knows – maybe tackling them could even be fun.

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