Index

OUR NON-NEGOTIABLES:
A LOOK BACK

A year and a half ago, we introduced a blog series on our company’s Non-Negotiables. At TGG, our Non-Negotiables are six traits and characteristics that guide us in our everyday interactions with each other, our clients, and our communities. They are the pillars on which we have built, and will continue to build, the company. 

The Non-Negotiables came about in a particularly organic way. We did not sit down in a “strategy session” to “identify our Non-Negotiables”. They came about naturally as we thought about the values that are important to us, how we wished to create, cultivate and maintain relationships, our culture, and most importantly….the traits and characteristics we saw really successful TGGers demonstrating. The Non-Negotiables became an articulation of how we were already living. 

Our Non-Negotiables are reflected not only in our day to day interactions, but in our recruiting, our professional development, and our feedback process. They are our framework for holding ourselves accountable in our work and relationships, and it is our greatest point of pride that our team consistently reflects them.

Our six Non-Negotiables are:

  1. 1. Collaborative
  2. 2. Integrity
  3. 3. Intellectual Curiosity
  4. 4. Thrives in Ambiguity
  5. 5. Emotional Intelligence
  6. 6. Grounded Confidence

When we began this blog series, we asked different members of our team to write each of the six blogs, and we are really proud of how they turned out. The authors reflect a group of individuals with different backgrounds, varying years of experience (and time with the company), diverse perspectives, and different working styles. We also sat down and filmed the historical context of our Non-Negotiables and how they guide our focus as we grow our firm. 

Little did we know that half way through this blog series, we would find ourselves in the middle of not only a global pandemic, but also significant societal upheaval in the ongoing fight for equity, inclusion and racial justice. 

We knew how our Non-Negotiables guided us in “normal” times, but how would they hold up in such uncertain and stressful times? 

The answer is that we have relied upon them even more heavily. We focused on taking care of and supporting each other (Integrity, Emotional Intelligence).  We engaged even more deeply, and in many cases with more flexibility and an even stronger sense of service, with our clients (Thrives in Ambiguity, Intellectual Curiosity, Collaborative, Grounded Confidence). We also revamped our recruiting and evaluation processes to further embed these characteristics and traits (all six).  

We believe the increased level of depth and focus on our Non-Negotiables has been motivating and rewarding for our entire organization. It has also furthered our commitment to putting people and culture first in times of prosperity and uncertainty alike.

Our Non-Negotiables continue to be the most accurate representation we have of our company’s culture. They reflect who we are and who we will continue striving to be as we build our team and company.

We hope you have enjoyed this blog series as much as we have enjoyed sharing it. We encourage leaders and teams to think critically about the aspirational and lived culture you desire for your organization and orient everything around bringing it to life.   


About the Author:
Mike is passionate about client service and leading people. He enjoys watching people grow, develop, and discover their true path. Mike is a visionary and forward thinker with extensive multinational experience and a proven track record of serving clients. With more than 25 years of business leadership and consulting in a wide variety of challenging and ambiguous environments, Mike got his start in the industry at Deloitte Consulting and has since held executive leadership positions in consulting, supply chain services, and public education organizations.

A LETTER FROM OUR FOUNDING PARTNER

I founded The Gunter Group in 2011. Like many people that start companies, one of my primary motivators was to create an organization that could reflect my own values and interests. Integrity, trust, service to clients, authenticity, transparency, leadership…all of those were (and are) important to me. 

Many people that joined TGG early on are still with the company almost nine years later, and have been joined by many more talented, energetic, and awesome people. On my team, not only do I know the TGGers, I know their spouses, partners and significant others, kids (many since they were born), and a bunch of pets. That’s the way I always wanted it, and I have always felt a strong sense of responsibility for my team.

We have built an incredible group, we have the privilege of serving a wonderful group of client organizations, and we are deeply committed to supporting the communities in which we work. We have built TGG into a sustainable company with a solid foundation and we had a great start to 2020.

And then, COVID-19 happened. The universe saw things differently.

As I write this, we are completing our seventh full week of stay-at-home orders and 100% remote working. Now that some of the initial adjustment shock has worn off, I have spent some time reflecting on our purpose as an organization, the actions we have taken, and some of what may lie ahead.

First, what brings us TGGers together is a shared purpose: we exist to help our team, clients, and communities thrive. The mechanism that gives us the means to achieve our purpose is our company, and we need to survive current circumstances and come out the other side intact for us to continue to be of service. We have taken several steps to ensure the continuity of our business. We applied for the SBA Paycheck Protection Plan loan, and ensured our line of credit was up to date. We signed up for regular communications and updates with government officials in our markets. We formed a COVID-19 focused subgroup within our leadership team, are constantly sharing and discussing information we see, and forming our action plan for going forward. 20% of TGG team members are veterans, and we are leaning on their experience leading in times of crisis (we will share those experiences in an upcoming video).

Second, we have focused on the health and well-being of our team. Transparency is important to us and we have been radically transparent with our team about what we are doing. We have increased communication significantly, and have weekly all-company video calls in addition to written updates. Our leaders have stepped up the frequency of 1:1 meetings with the people on their teams. We have virtual happy hours to keep everyone across the company connected.

Third, we have doubled down on client service. It goes without saying that our clients are our lifeblood and serving them well is what we do best. Some of our client companies are struggling, and it has been painful to experience that with them—they are our colleagues and friends. We have gotten creative wherever we could to ensure continuity of work, working alongside our client teams. We have shared our own experiences in dealing with things like working remotely and in being adaptable wherever helpful. One of our senior consultants recently joined a client team to manage workstreams in their centralized task force setup to manage COVID-19 response efforts.

Fourth, we are considering what comes next. We are thinking deeply about our services, how they are delivered, and what will be most impactful in the future. We are sharing best practices for working in a more digitized world with our clients and networks. We are deepening several of our partnerships with other firms. We are continuing to recruit and look for exceptional talent to join our company when the time is right. In short, we are trying to straddle the line between being realistic about the uncertainty of our current circumstances, but yet remaining optimistic and hopeful about working our way through it.

There is tremendous uncertainty regarding what happens in the next few months, and beyond. I do not believe we will quickly get back to what used to be normal as soon as we start to reopen. I think there will be a slow transition back to something that seems more normal than the circumstances in which we currently find ourselves, but there will be lasting impacts on how we get work done. I think there will be a lot more remote working, video calls, and less travel. There will be more distributed teams. Leaders need to be ready to help people make the transition and be compassionate in their support. For those of us with kids, there will continue to be disruption in childcare and education, and that will reverberate into the workplace. Flexible arrangements will not only be a benefit, they will be necessary.

But there are silver linings in what we have learned. As contrary to inclination as it sounds, our team is communicating with each other better than ever, and in a deeper, more productive way. We are strengthening our most important relationships in our networks outside the company with our clients, partners, and communities because we are working together more closely than ever. And we are not the only ones: we recently conducted a survey and facilitated a webinar on change management in uncertain times in which 70% of respondents said many of their relationships have been strengthened in the last six weeks. I have found it has been helpful just having people in your network to talk to and understand shared experiences.

As we navigate our way through the circumstances caused by COVID-19, we remain focused on our shared purpose as an organization: to work so that our team, our clients, and our communities thrive. Our core values at TGG—honesty, integrity, radical transparency, ability to thrive in ambiguity, taking care of each other—are the pillars on which we lean to navigate through uncertainty. The pillars are more important now than ever. No one has all the answers right now, but whether you are facing a critical moment today or not, we would love to talk to you about our experiences and how our team might help. We remain ready to serve. 


Mike is passionate about client service and leading people. He enjoys watching people grow, develop, and discover their true path. Mike is a visionary and forward thinker with extensive multinational experience and a proven track record of serving clients. With more than 25 years of business leadership and consulting in a wide variety of challenging and ambiguous environments, Mike got his start in the industry at Deloitte Consulting and has since held executive leadership positions in consulting, supply chain services, and public education organizations.