Thursday, February 4, 2010

Your values

I happened to be at ACRS at the EDI Leadership Conference where Chee Chew, an engineering director at Google gave the opening keynote. At Google, Chee leads a team of 300+ engineers. I never met Chee, but he came out in a blue sweater and jeans and gym shoes. "So what," you say? Well read on as what he wears says something about his values.

He started off with showing us pictures and asking us which we related to most.

Picture series A

Blue sky bridge vs a Sunset (Blue)

Timex vs Rolex (Functionality)

Hooded sweatshirt vs Tuxedo (Functionality)

Grand Piano vs Electronic Piano (Maintenance)

Washington DC vs Rome (New adventurous places)

Key: Chee's picks (Chee's Values)

I picked the sunset, rolex, hooded sweatshirt, grand piano, and Washington dc. I am sure other folks picked something else. As it relates to Chee, he chose the Blue sky, the timex , the hooded sweatshirt , the Electric piano , and then Rome .

He later described why he picked the pictures he chose, an indication of his values. He chose the Blue sky picture for blue; the timex for functionality; the hooded sweatshirt for functionality; the Electric piano for its easy maintenance, and then Rome for his love of adventurous places.

He then showed us another picture series and asked us to pick the pictures he would choose based on his given values. Which ones do you think he picked?

Picture series B

Red Acura vs Blue Honda (Blue)

ChoiceDek Recycled vs Wood Deck (Maintenance)

Knife vs utility knife (Functionality)

Gym Shoe vs Dress Shoe (Functionality)

Africa vs Seattle (New adventurous places)

Key: Chee's picks (Chee's Values)

I admit, I struggled a bit as some of my values got in the way. Knowing his values, it was a bit easier for me to pick the pictures that would he would pick.

Chee then dialogued about meetings he attended for his group and watched the decision making process. In the earlier part of his career as he grew into management roles, he admitted that he was more hands on yet the bigger his team got, this management style didn't work for his worklife balance as he spent a lot of time fixing issues and he had to be in the room to make decisions.  He realized that this process didn't scale as his team globally grew. He had to state his values to his team so that they could speak to what Chee would decide if he wasn't there.  (The exercise above demonstrates this.)

The lesson to be learned with Chee is to be open about your values and to be self aware of your management style meaning are you hands on or are you consistently sharing your values to help your team make decisions?


Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle

Additional Links:

○ Google, Inc.:

○ Executive Development Institute:

○ Asian Counseling and Referral Service:

Authentic Leadership by Bill George:

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