Introducing Our Key Agreements

Jan 14, 2020

A few years before we even launched, the feeling of what The Key was going to be -- and lines it wouldn’t cross -- were clear.

The Principals and I talked about those feelings and lines as we leapt from the secure into the unknown, and with each iteration and repetition, the commitment deepened to telling a new story.

Having grown from concept to experiment to company, we spent much of 2019 building a scaffold of processes and best practices to ensure that we live our intentions each day. We broadened the discussion to include our Associates and Apprentices, so we could create something in which we’re all invested and feel ownership.

To turn a vision to which I was already married into a series of steps I couldn’t see was humbling and inspiring. It required dependence on partners better suited to their design: we leaned into our strengths-based model to empower our internal team to drive process development, and hired outside experts to facilitate.

Among the outputs, we came up with a series of Key Agreements to which each person commits, in how she cares for herself, works with teammates, the media and with clients. Here’s a quick timeline of the process:

The Key’s First Offsite (2017) - focused on the values we felt day-to-day that we wanted to maintain and bolster as we grew. Five of us and a first-time facilitator gathered in a Livermore farmhouse and reinforced ourselves and each other as we prepared for rapid growth.

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Early iterations of our Key Agreements (2018) - were part of what came out of our bougiest offsite to-date, where nine of us gathered with the Lead with Love team (Thank you Jadah Sellner and LaKita Williams!) to really dive deep into what brought us together and where we hoped to go. It let us flex our artistic skills as well:

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And in 2019, we finalized the language and art that now center us in our work. They hang on our wall, work into our presentations, and guide us as individuals and as a team.

Here’s a peek; we’d love to know your favorite:


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A lot of complexity comes from an unwillingness to commit to the things that insight and understanding surface.