Ethos Behaviour Manifesto

Since the Ethos journey began in 1999, we have been experimenting with our behaviours through work and how they relate to social justice.


We Work Out Loud (WOL) Value Exchange is an interpretation of Working Out Loud (see this article) that has been practised by Ethos and its founders since 1999.  Making work a self-directed activity brings many benefits to individuals and organisations including resilience, effectiveness and efficiency. The ethos of Value Exchange is putting the individual at the centre of work design to ensure that work is meaningful and purposeful to the maximum extent possible. 

Trust  Trust is an essential ingredient in achieving outcomes that are not mediated by contracts alone.  Even where there exists a tight regime of metrics, processes and work rules, trust plays an important part.  By encouraging trust as a “default” value we hit the ground running.  Where trust breaks down (it can, it does, it may well do!) it needs to be carefully managed.  This can be done effectively in a ‘working out loud’ culture as there is normally an easy answer to why, when and how trust breaks down.  This enables individuals to manage or close any alignment gaps more easily. You are responsible for your own words and personal data. 

Collaboration We seek collaboration, we don’t want silos. We must align with our fellow humans regularly; it benefits all.

Moderation of self interest is a legitimate behaviour for people and organisations. We always seek to balance and moderate those interests.  By working out loud, trusting by default and collaborating readily we hope to “out” the inevitable self and organisational interests as soon as possible.  Doing this enables them to be intelligently managed, mitigated or removed.  Keeping interests hidden is the root of many failures, frustrations and unintended consequences. 


We use open work platforms to conduct our work. We avoid over-using emails to communicate. We focus on solving issues by looking first at the people then the organisations and finally the opportunities that enable us to solve real world problems that are invariably “social” ones.  This is especially so for system problems. currently uses Agile/Scrum, Clickup, Slack and Google Workplace to get their work done which they find provides a powerful combination.  They encourage external organisations to adopt these tools in order to facilitate an open, sharing and working out loud environments. Most importantly the way we conceive, design and implement socially valuable innovation is Human Centered (HCD). Putting the individual (and their communities) in the very center of things is an essential part of our practise. Sometimes in the UK this is referred to as Asset Based Community Development (ABCD).

Value Exchange needs to remain current. Each participant needs a current Value Exchange. Value Exchange and Value Recognition are not “once and done”.  You are only as good as your last “Value Exchange”. We recommend that newcomers do Value Exchange monthly and that seasoned hands revisit theirs every three months. You cannot really claim you are a Value Exchanger unless you practise this behaviour. 

We are kind. This is definitely the best way to get good engagement. It’s an old one but a goodie – treat others the way you would want to be treated.

We respect each other’s wellbeing needs. When we are well we are all more productive.

We welcome and respect diversity. More than this we seek it out. Diversity in all its forms: gender, LGBGTQ+ and neurodiversity are some of the hot topics as we write.

We have a “no blame” culture. Things go wrong, balls get dropped, what matters in these instances is finding the solution and moving forward and learning. If something goes wrong we want to know about it asap and we help fix it. We talk about “learning fast” rather than “failing fast”

We permit real flexibility. This can slow things down, but with effective communications and awareness of each other’s availability it is something we accept and promote.

Constructive challenge is encouraged. It can help personal and organisational development and growth. BUT it must be done in an appropriate way,  respectful of stakeholders and within the context of your individual Value Exchange. It can be difficult to define when a challenge is not acceptable, but we encourage you to: be sure you have enough context, try to anticipate objections, rehearse, don’t immediately react, be mindful of when and how you raise your challenge and accept your challenge is just that, a challenge, not necessarily the chosen way forward.

We work remotely when that makes most sense. This has its ups and its downs. We all enjoy the ups (eg. no commuting) and have experienced all different kinds of downs, it affects individuals differently. We want to help make this the best way to work for everyone, so share your story when it’s not working and we can try and address it. 

We give permission for work to be phun (our spelling) we insist on some phun at work! Phun is not enforced. It’s a moment of genuine joy.  It promotes good endorphins. Resilience and productivity.  Genuine enjoyment has to be good for everyone!

It’s OK to STOP, we positively encourage it. We recognise the danger of becoming fundamentalist about this philosophy.  It won’t be right for everyone.  It won’t be a good course of action all the time.  Therefore we must be tolerant of stopping and starting as the situation suits. We don’t want to build a big perimeter fence or boundary between those that Value Exchange and those that don’t.

We encourage everyone to live by these values. If you have suggestions for improvement, please work out loud to improve this manifesto 😉


Last update 14/08/2023 (strap line change)