ESnet Unveils Core Values

May 6, 2024

By Bonnie Powell

Large group of people sitting and standing outside

The ESnet team at the January 2024 All-Staff Retreat. Photo: Paul Porter, ESnet

ESnet is proud to share its five core organizational values: 

One Team, One Goal
We're deeply committed to our core mission of serving and partnering with the science community.

People First
Our well-being and how we treat each other are foundational to mission success.

Partner with Integrity
Recognizing ESnet’s trusted role in many communities, we always act with transparency, honesty, and authenticity.

Lead with Humility
Learn from all, share knowledge with grace.

Progress over Perfection
We prioritize continuous improvement and innovation in every role.

These statements represent more than a year of careful work by ESnet’s all-volunteer Values Committee, engagement across the entire organization, and input from ESnet’s executive leadership team (ELT). This process was informed by Berkeley Lab’s core values, and the end result is remarkably aligned in spirit, reflecting the strategic alignment of a Department of Energy user facility and the national laboratory that stewards it. 

“I am proud of the work that our staff has done to arrive at this set of shared values,” said ESnet Executive Director Inder Monga. “They articulate what is collectively most important to ESnet staff in our work together. They will help us not only to stay in sync on our strategic priorities internally but also to clarify how we engage with all of our stakeholders, in order to fulfill our mission to accelerate scientific research by building an interconnected global laboratory.”

A project of ESnet’s Culture & Engagement initiative, the goal of articulating ESnet’s values was inspired by feedback from the 2022 all-staff survey and follow-on listening sessions. The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with rapid and mostly remote staff growth due to the demanding ESnet6 project, had strained ESnet's traditionally strong culture. An article that Columbia Business School Professor Paul Ingram and College of William and Mary Assistant Professor Yoonjin Choi coauthored for the Harvard Business Review, “What Does Your Company Really Stand For?,” provided a persuasive summary of the value of values work:   

“When you align your organization’s values with both your strategy and the values of your employees — creating what we call values alignment — you reap all sorts of benefits: higher job satisfaction, lower turnover, better teamwork, more effective communication, bigger contributions to the organization, more productive negotiations, and, perhaps surprisingly, more diversity, equity, and inclusion.” 

The article also outlined a clear roadmap to follow — and Professor Ingram even agreed to serve as ESnet’s guide for the entire process: 

    • Step 1 - Define Personal Values: To define their personal values, all ESnet employees were invited to attend a Values Definition workshop organized by the Values Committees; 110 people attended the three workshops, an almost 90% participation rate.
    • Step 2 - Capture ESnet Strategy: The committee and Prof. Ingram assessed how ESnet’s strategic goals, Berkeley Lab’s stewardship values, and other organizational inputs might factor into the values. 
    • Step 3 - Create Values Candidates: The Values Committee drafted approximately 40 values candidates that represented both ESnet staff’s most common individual values and the organization’s strategic goals. 
    • Step 4 - Assess Values Candidates: All ESnet staff were invited to weigh in on the values candidates using iterative pairings generated by a collective-intelligence tool.
    • Step 5 - Generate Final Set of Values: The Values Committee worked closely with the ELT to finalize a set of values and accompanying statements that they collectively felt reflected the majority of voices as well as those values uniquely suited to advance the organization’s strategic goals and mission. 
    • Step 6 - Integrate: Develop a plan for integrating the values into the organization.

“I was wowed by the creativity, dedication and integrity that ESnet staff brought to the process of identifying values,” said Prof. Ingram. “This dedication and diligence is not only critical for effectively identifying values, but will also serve ESnet very well as it goes on to breathe life into the values, to the benefit of all of the organization’s stakeholders.”

ESnet’s values were unveiled and discussed at an all-staff retreat at the end of January 2024: the response was celebratory and positive. Since then the Values Committee has drafted a plan for how to weave these values deeply into the fabric of ESnet (Step 6), by proposing activities with which to establish norms at the individual, department, and organization-wide levels. 

The official steps may end there, but the work will continue. “We believe that our shared values will guide the hundreds of decisions we make in our day-to-day operations. This will ensure that we can innovate and adapt quickly, while also staying aligned to what matters most,” said Jon-Paul Herron, who led the Values Committee work and heads ESnet’s Network Services department. “While we celebrate the work we did as an organization to develop these statements, it’s really just the first step. As our value of Progress over Perfection makes clear, we will always be iterating, clarifying, and evolving our core ESnet culture.”