Core Values

Does your team have “Core Values”?

Are they written down somewhere, manual, painted on the wall, or website? Are they taught anecdotely?

Do you think it is important to write them down?

If I asked anyone on your team would they know them?
Would they know them as “Core Values”?

How well do they align with FIRST core values?

Feel free to list them if you care to share.

Mid-year reviews on goals, a friends post on another site, and a book I am re-reading have me thinking about “Core Values”.

On the Robowranglers we always say our highest value is “Professionalism at all times.”

Ask almost any wrangler, and they’ll tell you this. A few years ago, we started to notice that when asked “What is our highest value” our students would happily parrot this back as the answer, but didn’t really know what it meant. We started asking them: “Ok, so what does that mean? What IS professionalism?” Some of the answers we’ve received are pretty cool. Go ahead and ask them at competition. My favorite answer: “Volunteering to sweep the shop.” :wink:

Does this align with FIRST Values? I would say – absolutely. Unfortunately “gracious professionalism” has been (imho) twisted by some people in a lot of ways that don’t really align with what I believe Dr. Flowers originally intended.

The “professionalism” part of gracious professionalism seems to have been lost by some people…

What we like to do alot of the times in to find out what everybody wants to get from this. Everyone on our team could possibly value their time in FIRST differently from one another. One of my main core values is to help younger students be inspired by FIRST like FIRST has inspired me. That is for me personally though. Other students believe that their years here should be spent spreading the word of FIRST or just leaving the team better off then it was before. Always moving, always progressing. I think that when you take each and every vaule that each student/mentor on our team stands for you get Frog Force.

1712 (and the larger LMHS Tech & Engineering Club) has adopted a few important values/ideals/notions as we’ve grown over the last 6 years. Here are the most important…

A. our team name “Dawgma” combines our school mascot, a bulldog, and “dogma” which refers to a strong belief system.

B. our motto has been “Designing on all Fours” for the past four years which, again, ties our school mascot with the four ideals or “legs” we stand upon:

  1. Passion
  2. Leadership
  3. Perseverance
  4. Community

C. For the past two years we’ve worn Chinese symbols on our shirt sleeves that loosely translate to “favorable energy” which has many ties to FIRST ideals of coopertition and GP as well as provide a reminder of something simple that all people (and robots) could use.

D. As part of our business plan this past year, the team also published a mission statement for the first time:

  • “To inspire socially conscious leaders in STEM and related fields”

As for informing the team/others:
Every time we “name” or “describe” something about ourselves we take great care to do it with meaning, and inform/educate members along the way. We publish documents for the public and ourselves that help in this process as well as hang grapics/signs in our lab, and frequently build our Chairman’s entries around these core values/key phrases.

We work hard to build all that we do around our mission, name, and ideals and, personally, I cannot imagine helping to run any organization that doesn’t make every effort possible to ground its efforts in what’s most meaningful for its members. As I tell the team, "… otherwise, we’re just a bunch of kids playing with expensive toys … "

If I am correct on where Isaac is coming from with this, another important question might be: How did you go about defining your team’s core values?

  • Respect- Respect for one’s self, and others.
  • Unity- Working together, whether it be as a sub-team, the whole team, multiple teams, and anyone and everyone we meet. Whether it be working on a task or just being friendly working to have a good time
  • Spirit- Doing everything in the “spirit” of FIRST, i.e. being GP, working as a team, general politeness and respect for the comptetion, etc.
  • and Heart- Never giving up, even when the going gets tough or things seem hopeless. It’s better to try and fail than to never try at all.

These are the Core Values under which Team RUSH (get it?) operates.

Our team motto, which I realize isn’t specifically a “Core Value” per se, also serves as a guide for our members: “Fail faster. Learn more. Focus and execute.”

We also have our Team Mission Statement which is: “To develop leadership skills and increase real world experiences in an exciting environment so that our members become leaders in a global, 21st century knowledge economy dependent on math, science, and technology.”

Now to answer your questions Ike.

Our core values are virtually inescapable if you’re a member of Team RUSH, since their part of our team’s name, and as such, along with out motto and mission statement, are documented fairly extensively.

If you asked any member of our team what our core values were, or what our mission statement was, I’m confident that every student would be able to provide the above answers.

Though our core values were named before my time on the team, I know for a fact great effort was put into making them line up well with FIRST’s core values. I know for a fact our mission statement was developed with FIRST’s mission in mind since it was created at our 2008 (or maybe 2009, I can’t remember for certain) team retreat.

I actually just posted a list of my core values while I was on vacation in July:

It was an interesting exercise. I recommend everyone take a few minutes and try it for themselves.


Our Mission Statement summarizes our values,

The mission of Hart District Robotics is to promote education in science and technology through an engaging, student led, mentor guided, high school robotics team.$@# The program emphasizes team work, self confidence, gracious professionalism, and leadership. It demonstrates the value of individual diversity, combined creativity, and positive achievements not only in our program but also in our society.

In other words our values are:

  1. giving back to the community
  2. understanding that everyone can contribute something to the team
  3. teaching our team members skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

Basically our take on the mission of FIRST

I don’t think the Killer Bees have explicitly written down our core values, but it will likely be an exercise we will be doing this fall.

The importance of core values is like the foundation of a home. With a solid foundation, you can always rebuild the upper structure and have a good stable home. With a poor foundation, no matter what you do above ground, issues will arise in the long run. You can build a beautiful house with a poor foundation, that will be a disaster site as soon as some settling occurs. What causes this settling? Time, weather, earthquakes, general usage…

There is another thread about a team where some members want to have fun, some want to compete better, and the two groups seem to believe these are conflicting values. If they had a strong set of core values, they could review their actions and results vs. their values and distinguish discrepancies.

If you read any business development or leadership book (Good to Great, Built to Last, Tribal Leadership…) you will find a section on the importance of core values or something similar.

On a side note, JVN did a core values exercise that is really powerful. There is a similar exercise that most people find truly unbelieveable.

Write down the priorities in your life. The things that are most important to you in a ranked order. I would recommend limiting it to a Top 10 to Top 20.

Then make a couple more lists. These are how you use your resources. Resources like time, money (if you have a job)…

Compare the lists, or if you are especially nerdy, make some pie charts in Excel. What you will often find is their is something you believe to be a priority that you are applying too little of resource too.

As team 2062 C.O.R.E. we of course have core values.



I would like to add this to the discussion. It was a thread that was started in our team fora in our team website, LASA, and we included it in our “ABOUT” (us) on the home page.

This is a quote taken from one of the posts by our lead mentor, Mr. Bertucci, that I think helps explain our growth and development as a team and leads to a few thoughts about the Servant-Leader aspects of our team:

After having had the year that we have had, I find time to reflect on how we have gotten here and where do we go from here? I believe that we have come here because we have adhered to the concepts of leadership and service while applying a good work ethic and a consistent effort.

2009 was a big year for LASA Robotics and it gave Mr. Bertucci and those of us who have been with the team for a while, time to think about, and reflect on, what helped bring the achievements and successes to the team. As the team has grown and matured over the years into a veteran team and role model for our community, we’ve realized that the Servant-Leader description/philosophy dovetails nicely with many aspects of our team that have always been valued and, hopefully, reflected - by our membership. By including it in our website in the section about us, we are inviting those who want to know more about LASA Robotics to have additional insight into our core values. As the founder of LASA Robotics, Mr. Bertucci, led the team alone for a few years before he began gathering mentors, parents, alumni, supporters and sponsors, who have stood by the team through thick and thin through the years, and who have helped to strengthen our core values and share them with the communities that we are all a part of.

I have a couple of thoughts that I’d like to share regarding how we, as a team, mentor new members and help them understand the value of our core and the integrity of the team:

It’s Not Easy Being Green
sung by Kermit the Frog

It’s not easy bein’ green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you’re
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green’s the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean
Or important like a mountain
Or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why
But why wonder, why wonder?
I am green and it’ll do fine
It’s beautiful!
And I think it’s what I want to be!

I’m not sure why these lyrics sprang to mind when I began to try to find words to describe working with teenagers and parents that are new to the team. Mr. Bertucci and Danny Diaz are probably not going to be happy that they said I could talk about the core values. It will make sense (at least to me) in a little bit, I hope.

Being on LASA Robotics means that there is continual change, year in/year out due to the fact that the students on the team are in high school and as they enter the team, often their parents do, too. When they graduate, their parents often leave the team with them. We think of it as cyclical and we’ve learned to understand the cycles and to try to maximize their strengths and work with the weaknesses that continual change brings. Part of that is presenting the new members with a clear understanding of what our core values are and will be through their time on the team. Our hope is that the values come to mean something as the members develop into veterans and eventually alumni of the team. We have often heard that being on LASA Robotics is a lot different than belonging to other clubs or organizations. Some of the parents have told us that they appreciate our travel rules and expectations; that they know they will be followed and met, by and large - and that there are consequences.

That said, there is a huge learning curve involved when core values and team expectations and rules are new to a student or parent. Like all things, some catch on pretty quick and some catch on more slowly. Some never catch on. We’ve learned over the years that that doesn’t mean the core values, rules, guidelines change; instead, they remain a constant during the change. Here’s the tricky part - change, itself, will season the values, allowing for tweaking - finding the strengths and weaknesses, as the team continues to develop and mature. That is what takes the green (or purple in our case) from ordinary blending and changes it into being cool and friendly-like and it’ll do fine: taking the time to understand your core values and realize that they are important to the develop of the individual, the team, and perhaps, the community.