Our Core Values
Our Operating Model
We have deep faith in the transformative power of Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Transparency with others, and Vision, Resilience, Dynamism and Rebellion in ourselves
These core values are at the core of each of us
The Foundation’s core values are not enshrined in a laminated card in people’s pockets; we each live them, even if we each might describe them in different words. Nor were they codified by a committee, nor are they the result of a glorified voting process, nor a set of values we wish we had but don’t. They are the core values of our two Founders, who selected a Council that fitted those values, who in turn automatically ensured that their shared values drove every aspect of The Foundation’s strategy and dealings with others.
Importantly, our values drive more than just how we do things; they also dictate the essence of what we do, including our overall strategy. A crucial example of this is The Foundation’s approach to AI.
Find out how Human-Centric AI fits tightly with our core values.
OUTWARD-LOOKING CORE VALUES
What’s really needed is DIVERSITY of Thinking
This is about far more than ticking boxes against a list of newly fashionable minorities. Indeed, to maximise inventiveness and vibrancy, Diversity needs to be defined very much broader than just gender. Or ethnicity. Or any other of the classic tick-boxes. What’s really needed is Diversity of Thinking.
That means that it is unlikely to be enough for a team to merely look diverse – they may nevertheless share remarkably similar backgrounds and mindsets. What is needed to add a true richness to the team thought-process is sufficient variety not just to avoid Group Think but also to stimulate ideas that might never otherwise arise.
That demands far more nuanced Diversity criteria than most organisations usually consider.
EQUALITY means ensuring everyone has equal opportunities
This is about far more than respecting people as equals. Diversity and Equality are two sides of the same coin; there is little point in encouraging Diversity if the members of an apparently diverse team are not treated equally.
Upholding the value of Equality does not mean insisting that everyone is equally intelligent or talented or productive. But it does mean ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities, whoever they are. This includes cyborgs.
Achieving such a genuine meritocracy typically demands actively breaking down unquestioned barriers, bypassing subtle but systemic discrimination, seeking out and embracing differences in background, and luxuriating in the opportunities for innovation afforded by richly various inputs.
INCLUSION must deliver true involvement
This is about far more than having a place at the table; to be of any use to anyone, Inclusion must deliver true involvement. And that is a two-way street. Only ever passively listening and asking is just as unproductive as only ever actively talking and persuading. Hardly ever asking questions or pushing a contrary viewpoint is the least productive behaviour. Yet it happens all the time. Even highly creative individuals maybe feel intimidated or embarrassed by the thought of making a fool of themselves, or feel they don’t really belong or have the right to be heard, or their viewpoint seems to disagree with everyone else’s and so ‘must’ be wrong, or they’ve simply been told to keep quiet!
For all these reasons, Inclusion means removing fear and alienation, ultimately by empowering people. Sometimes this means by educating them. Sometimes by giving them access to the right tools to not only easily contribute but also easily diverge from the majority and still be heard. Ultimately, Inclusion is about alignment rather than uniformity, healthy debate and overall agreement rather than diktat and forced consensus. Everything else defeats the whole object of Inclusion at all.
TRANSPARENCY is about clear, open, simple, accessible, trustworthy communication
This is about far more than openness. Anyone who’s tried to understand the legalese of an impenetrable contract they’re expected to sign knows that you also need clarity so that everyone fully understands what you’re actually being ‘open’ about. Sometimes (as with the occasional legal document) the confusing language is deliberate. But often it’s simply the unintended consequence of people using the jargon of their workplace or profession – having long ago become desensitised to just how far removed it is from how people communicate in the real world.
In practical terms, Transparency is about building trust and support using global collaboration and open-source tools, helping individuals to better their lives and create a healthier society and planet by means of clear, open, simple, accessible, trustworthy communication.
Those of us in The Foundation who spend our lives in the worlds of science, technology and medicine are very well aware that our professions can be the worst offenders when it comes to people speaking in secret languages. We promise to try not to.
INWARD-LOOKING CORE VALUES
VISION is a guiding beacon that pulls people both towards it and together
This is about far more than conjuring the image of an alternative future, or inspiring people to change things, or outlining the road map by which they can reach a better outcome. Vision is about providing all three: Aspiration, Inspiration, Perspiration.
Ultimately, Vision is being able to generate a guiding beacon that pulls people towards it and together, even as other forces try to pull them apart. It is being able to see a creative idea as the kernel of an important change initiative. And it is ensuring that each major vision has supporting visions that help it come true – a cascade of mutually reinforcing aspirations, inspirations, and perspirations, together changing everything.
RESILIENCE: How you respond to a set-back ultimately determines whether it was a set-back at all
This is about far more than being strong in the face of failure. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to act tough at all; it’s perfectly OK if you’re reduced to a blubbing mess when everything goes horribly wrong. It’s what you do next that matters. As far as you’re able, as quickly as possible, you need to spring back rather than wallow too long in self-pity.
Holding true to the value of Resilience has important implications. For a start, it means that you get the headspace to learn from failure. If you become skilful at bouncing back with renewed energy and determination, then show-stopping failure becomes less a dead-end so much as the opportunity for a radical detour. Even major failure becomes a numbers game – each whopping set-back brings you closer to a far more creative success than if the going had been easy.
But most importantly, Resilience brings the opportunity to turn liabilities into assets. The point is, we can each be at our most creative, resolute, human, when chasing rainbows. But the rainbows will sometimes be obscured by a storm. When they are, we should light a beacon, shine it into the deluge, and make our own rainbows.
DYNAMISM is far less about energy as it is about using energy wisely
This is about far more than being energetic. Indeed, expending too much energy on unproductive things makes you, at best, tired. At worst, it makes you stubborn. And wrong. The key to leveraging Dynamism is to be dynamic, in the sense of being flexible and responsive – just as much as in the sense of being energised. That means you should not work harder; you should work smarter.
It’s incredibly easy to waste energy. The reality is that some things we can choose to tackle are likely to be far easier than others, and some will likely have far more potential impact. Dynamism means choosing wisely even as circumstances change.
Of course, the first things to focus on as the world tilts are the easy tasks that will have a big impact. But this ‘low-hanging fruit’ will often already have been picked. Or it may never have existed. That leaves the temptation of the remaining easy tasks. But they’re a waste of time because they’ll only ever have low impact. They should be given a wide berth. The tasks to focus on are the ones that will have a major impact even though they will be a struggle. And the most important thing to do is to add a new task that will make these impactful tasks easier to pull off.
Effective REBELLION is about selectively breaking rules to forge a new destiny
This is about far more than just breaking rules indiscriminately. Rebellion is about breaking free of the past and rewriting the future in a particular way – not change for the sake of change. So, to avoid being swamped by unintended consequences, challenges to the status quo need the precision of a rifle shot, not the collateral damage of a scatter gun. Tempting though it is to pick a fight on every injustice of the current system, effective Rebellion is about choosing the right battles. The most difficult skill can be to let things pass – until the time is right.
But even more importantly, it’s about being willing to ruffle feathers when necessary. To stand up to bullying behaviour, even when the bully is a powerful elite, an unquestioned authority, the Establishment.
Too many leadership teams – especially in charities – are addicted to risk avoidance, focused on keeping their key constituencies happy, scared of ‘rocking the boat’. They fixate on Risks rather than Opportunities. But this is not leadership. It’s a victim mentality. Ultimately it fails the very people the organisation should most protect. In contrast, our commitment is that The Foundation will always show Leadership, always Rebel, and always bring Hope.