Criterion’s work has, from the beginning, been driven by three core values: grace, hospitality, and invitation.
Grace compels us to assert that change is possible, even when others are overwhelmed, and to remain open to a variety of solutions and insights that often come from unexpected sources. Honoring hospitality allows us to make connections, bring people together, and seek the participation of a rich and diverse circle of conversation partners with respect for who they are and with the expectation that they will enrich us. We reflect invitation in the ways in which we think of ourselves as invited into this Criterion venture, which encompasses so much more than our core team, and as empowered to reach out to others. Knowing that an invitation is an event in itself, we take great care to invite people to consider unfamiliar ideas and to become leaders who exert influence and extend that invitation to wider circles.
Grace compels us to embrace the world as it is and see its problems as places where new possibilities can emerge. When grace is a fundamental value, we trust that there is a pathway to a better future. It comes as a gift, but we are partners in discovering it. We also experience grace in the way wisdom emerges from unexpected sources.
Grace allows us to meet people, organizations, and relationships where they are and to view everyone as someone with value. Our network is wide and inclusive. Grace means we welcome everyone, including people who walk through doors in many ways, from different places, and view the world through varying filters. Over the years, we’ve nurtured our relationships and seen amazing things happen. We trust the serendipity of connections and we operate our business to discover the rewarding possibilities that are created from the simple act of conversation.
We are not encouraging people to ask for power. We are helping them recognize and exercise the power they already have. We make connections visible so they see finance and the economy as a place where they can act, engage, and have influence.
Our mission is the empowerment of more people to participate in reinventing the economy. Through Grace, we equip people with different beliefs and from different communities to take up their authority and to see that they already have permission to take action.
To us, hospitality means lowering barriers to participation and making people with diverse perspectives feel comfortable in a discussion in the same room, as well as inviting those perspectives to mold the conversation in new and unimaginable ways.
The work of reinventing the economy excludes through subtle forms, such as the use of technical language that vets who is “in the know.” And cultural practices reinforce which imaginations are allowed and which are dismissed. Our understanding of enlarging the table includes a radical form of hospitality, in which we invite and engage the stranger, knowing the stranger will change us rather than expecting to change them.
Hospitality in this ancient definition protects a place for everyone to engage. We think about hospitable places, and ways that we can welcome a diversity of voices and outlooks into our work. While the hospitality industry might make you think this value is about making us look good when you visit, we value deeply the opportunity to be changed by you, to have our outlook changed through conversation, openness, and honesty. Hospitality lets people know they have been invited, and that they are valued.
We believe that the act of invitation begins relationship. Invitation powers Criterion Institute. Invitation is a form of power that does not coerce, but opens a door that allows the other to take a step they might not have otherwise. This form of power is potentially available to everyone.
We are as focused on the process of the invitation and how we make room at the table as we are on the conversations and actions that can take place when all are seated. While we often plan and execute events, they are only one way to interact. We know that a real invitation allows people to truly engage with us, our people, and our ideas, whether you can attend the event or not. Criterion welcomes you into real conversation. And we ask you, in turn, to invite the stranger in to change you. Trust grace to surprise you.