Ethos and what it means

11 mins audio



Welcome to our Ten Ten Resources Ethos Course. I’m the current Director of Ethos, Rod Isaacs. Whether you are a longstanding Ten Ten team member or entirely new to the organisation, welcome on board. To begin with, please play the short introductory video.


The Aims of the Course

1. To explore the vision, mission, and values statements that express our ethos

2. To explore how those statements can be applied to different aspects of what we currently do and can guide our present and future work

Five Modules

1. What ethos is and why it matters – defining vision, mission and values.

2. Our Ten Ten vision, mission, and values statements

3. Applying our ethos to a specific project and issue

4. Applying our ethos to our working relationships

5. Quiz and Feedback


Why do we need an ‘Ethos Project’?

The Founders

Clare & Martin O’Brien


What is meant by ‘Vision’?

Vision is what a company or organisation wants to achieve not only now but in the long term. It’s how they see themselves in the present, but it is also the future state of affairs they want to see realised and the role they want to play in making that happen.

We can see how this works through the vision statements of well-known organisations:

“To be the most creative organisation in the world”

“To provide access to the world’s information in one click”

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”

“A just world without poverty”

“Spread ideas”

Each of these statements is about what that company sees as their defining present-day purpose and the future they want to realise more and more fully.

Having a vision statement will help Ten Ten as a company to know how to see itself today and what it is aiming towards in the future.


What is meant by ‘Mission’?

Mission is closely allied with Vision. It captures the essence of the concrete work by which the vision will be realised.  It needs to encompass all the things the company is doing in the present (or could do in the future) to move closer to making the vision a reality.

Both of these terms – Mission and Vision –  relate to the purpose of an organisation.

In his book ‘Getting Things Done,’ David Allen explains why the purpose of any organisation needs to be known, articulated and shared. He says:

The primary purpose for anything provides the core definition of what the work really is. It is the ultimate job description.

He says purpose encompasses the key question: ‘What really matters, no matter what?’

Allen says that everything, from the ultimate goal to actions to values, should fall under that primary purpose – the WHY of an organisation.

He comments that there are multiple benefits to thinking about WHY.


1. defines success
2. creates decision-making criteria
3. aligns resources
4. motivates
5. clarifies focus
6. expands options


What are ‘Values’?

Values are in some ways the easiest term to explain – values are about principles.

Values or principles like honesty or integrity are the guiding lights for the content we produce, how we operate as a business, and how we relate to each other in the workplace.

David Allen says:

Whereas purpose provides the juice and direction, principles define the parameters of action and the criteria for excellence of conduct.

We are going to think about principles or values under two headings

Content Values

(which Allen calls ‘parameters of action’) and

Working Relationship Values

(which he calls ‘criteria for excellence of conduct.’)

More of that later.


A word about personal values

Before we move on to the next module, a word about members of staff and the Ten Ten ethos.

  • As with almost all organisations, ethos is central. Being on the Ten Ten team means we are all called to respect the values that are part of the Ten Ten ethos.
  • The Ten Ten ethos is distinctly Catholic and our content reflects this.
  • Beyond this, the Catholic faith is personally important to many team members.
  • At the same time, we welcome team members from other Christian traditions or with other faith perspectives whose views on specific matters may or may not coincide with a Catholic perspective.

These are things we all need to be mindful of. Here are some attitudes we can strive towards to help us do this.

  • To be attuned to the unique insights that each person brings.
  • To respect the personal values of each person.
  • To have an appreciation of and be sensitive towards different faith backgrounds and perspectives.
  • To feel confident about expressing our concerns or unease if ever we (or others) are feeling marginalized because of this aspect of our ethos.
  • To engage in healthy discussion and disagreement without fear of being disapproved of.
  • To respect the privacy of each person regarding their personal beliefs.

Of course, all of this comes from an ethos that values good working relationships and seeks to develop them based on trust, honest conversation, and the desire to see and understand each other’s point of view.

We will see this fleshed out in the next module as we look at the two distinct (but interconnected) sets of values I’ve just mentioned – content values and working relationship values. Together, these underpin the Ten Ten vision and mission.

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