Crisp DNA

The inner workings of a rather different consulting company

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Industries that we avoid

Currently we avoid the arms industry and the surveillance industry, and some others on a case-by-case basis.

Why do we avoid these industries?

Our two core values “Freedom” and “Heart over Wallet” can sometimes collide. For example when it comes to which industries we work in. Some Crispers feel very strongly against the arms industry and the surveillance industry - for them, “Heart over Wallet” means avoiding those industries even if it means a loss of profit, and they don’t want to associate with a consulting company that works with these industries.

On the other hand, our “Freedom” principle means that people can work with whatever they want, and some of us have no moral qualms with these industries.

So what gives?

To maintain a happy home with mutual respect, we’ve agreed on this compromise:

  1. Crisp doesn’t work with industries that at least one Crisper has a strong opinion against (currently Arms and Surveillance).
  2. If someone really wants to take on such a client, they must do so outside of Crisp.

How do we decide which industries are blacklisted?

If you are strongly against any specific industry, bring it up at the next unconference (or better yet, before joining Crisp). The decision boils down to how much you hate that industry vs how much others love it :o)

A useful mental model is for each person to classify that industry:

  • Green: “I love that industry, and I would be really upset if I’m not allowed to work with that”
  • Grey: “I’m OK with that industry, but if someone has a very strong opinion against, I’m OK with avoiding it.
  • Black: “It’s not OK for me to work with that industry. I think it will contaminate the Crisp brand, and I’d rather leave in that case.”

If an industry is on your Black list, and it isn’t on anyone else’s Green list, then we add it to the list of industries to avoid.

The only problem we have is if the industry is Green for one person and Black for someone else. That’s never happened so far though. The industries that are Black to some people have always been Grey for everyone else (and therefore OK to blacklist).

Is it OK to take an assignment within these industries?

Through Crisp, no. Outside Crisp it’s up to the consultant. But no Crisp material is allowed to be used in that assignment, no connection to the brand Crisp at all. The consultant needs to take that through their own company. “Off the record” so to speak.

What if these are industries that I want to focus on?

If you are a new candidate and one of our blacklisted industries is Green for you, then Crisp probably isn’t the right place for you.

If you are a Crisper already, you have some options:

  • Option 1: Convince the existing Blacks (people who hate that industry) to change to Gray.
  • Option 2: Adapt your stance. Change your own Green to Gray, and accept that the industry is blacklisted at Crisp.
  • Option 3: Leave Crisp.

In practice this has never been a problem though.

What happens when a client from these industries “knocks on the door”?

By default we turn them down, and describe our policy.

One exception is public classes, since we don’t have the bandwidth to screen each course participant for which industry they comes from. Another exception is if one of us specifically wants that job, and is willing to do it outside of Crisp. But that’s quite rare.