From the inside out

Sticks of seaside rock with writing running through them. Symbolising the way our values run through everything we do.

Lab COO Rebecca Sumner Smith on the importance of the Lab’s culture and values for our work.

“Any organisation’s ability to create change externally is constrained by its own internal policies, practices, and resources, its relationships and power imbalances, and the tacit assumptions of its board and staff.”

Kania, Kramer & Senge, The Water of Systems Change

The Lab works on transformative systems-change. Our vision is a financial system that serves people and planet; one which is democratic, sustainable, just and resilient. From the earliest days of the Lab this work has been underpinned by the belief that people created the financial system and people can change it, and so our work focuses on deep, lasting change that impacts mental models and power dynamics.

This approach – a key part of the Lab’s systemic lens – has significant implications for how we operate internally, and working to model what we hope organisations serving people and planet might look like is an important part of our identity.  One way of framing this is to ask: do we feel like a part of the old system, or a part of the experimentation and learning demonstrated by those who are building the new? What does it mean to consciously build a culture – and by extension, our policies and practices – in this way?

This is something the Lab has been working on since (and even before) it was founded. Here’s how the Lab’s founders described this back in our 2015 document A Strategy for Systems Change:

“Codifying our culture, being explicit about our principles and the behaviours we want and don’t want, has helped us embed this into the DNA of The Lab and has been crucial to our success. It has become the shorthand that allows us to work efficiently…”

Living our values in every aspect of our work is something which defines us as an organisation and – we hope! – something which helps elevate both our impact and our credibility. It’s something we are deliberate about, and give continual focus, and we aim to share more about this in future. You can read more about our values and related behaviours here – and if you have thoughts or feedback, I’d love to hear from you.