How to Choose and 'Live' the Right Values for a Firm / Organisation?
Values are being revisited in many organisations - yet few manage to select the right values and then anchor them in their culture as virtues. Often because they simply don't know how. Other causes of poor organisational values
- WRONGLY CHOSEN VALUES: In a hasty attempt to get onto the vision and values bandwagon, organisations end up with values that are expected rather than what is core to their principles and their underlying assumptions. There is often a sameness about them. They represent what is basic to being in business rather than an exciting differentiation (like Zappos).
- CYNICISM: There are major behavioural disconnects from stated values (VW, Barclays, BP to name a few) that raise cynicism about stated values in general, and question their sincerity and authenticity.
- WRONG INTENT: There is a stampede to join the 'purpose economy'. Businesses see profit potential in embracing a higher purpose. They recognise that this can be a magnet that attracts talent and customers, enhances reputation, fosters engagement. Firms with a genuine motive (like Patagonia), are the exception. Purpose simply cannot be properly implemented without living the accompanying virtues.
- PRESSURE TO UPHOLD REPUTATION: Sustainability challenges prompt organisations to "up their good citizen game", and some adopt a 'radical adaption' approach - but again without the support of entrenched virtues.
- INCREASING DIVERSITY: Increasing diversity in the workplace puts pressure on organisations to develop cultures, values and behaviours where people are valued and looked after, and where differences become a strength and not (as is too often the case) a source of disharmony and discontent.
- NOT COPING WITH RAPID CHANGES: When the pace of change overwhelms, and things are done too quickly, then the result may be lower quality outcomes, harmed relationships, loss of community, and lack of interest in the values.
How to Implement and Live the Published Values?
What underlying beliefs and assumptions, ways of converting stated values to character virtues, and visible symbols, artefacts and processes will determine whether an organisation will succeed at living their published values? Do the answers lie in:
- More ethical and benevolent leadership;
- Distinguishing between types of values (core, threshold, general);
- A change process that develops shared core values and seeks to align organisation and employee values;
- Attaching behaviour indicators to decided values;
- Special methods and techniques for anchoring chosen values in the culture;
- Techniques for individual behaviour modification and reinforcement, measurement and appraisal mechanisms;
I'd appreciate your experiences and thoughts.
Williams, G; Fox, P and Haarhoff D., "The Virtuosa Organisation: The Importance of VIRTUES for a Successful Business", Knowres Publishing 2015
Chouinard, Yvon, "Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman", Penguin Books 2006.