What are the “Values” (Part 2)

In Business, Business Management, Culture, Improvement, Leadership by Stephen Rogers

In Part 1, I discussed how I had recently observed some organisations revising their values based on the need to feel fresh or because someone external to the business thought it was a good idea.  I also mentioned that the previous values of these businesses were not wrong but reflected the essential characteristics and culture of the business.

I believe all organisations no matter how small should have documented values that workers and customers can see regularly. The values mirror the culture of the organisation and will be reproduced in the actions and processes displayed and implemented by the workers.  The values are also the filters through which decisions are scrutinised. For example, if a value of the business was to be customer-focussed, then ensuring a positive experience through the initial contact would be essential.  In contrast, if fair treatment of workers was a value, then off-shore supply of goods may need to be investigated thoroughly, to ensure production through sweat shops was not realised.

If we look at the Culture of any organisation, we can typically identify four to six principle ideals or beliefs that resonate with the workers and typically with customers, as they experience them on a daily basis through interactions.  Whether we like it or not or values and the Culture can be positive or negative depending on the accepted practices within the organisation.  In reality we want to remove the values that don’t work for the business, and reinforce or emphasise the values that our stakeholders want to see.

As an example, if we look at Samsung’s values, we see a combination of outward and inward stakeholder focus:

  • PEOPLE – We value our people with a strong belief in “A company is its people” philosophy and providing opportunities to perform their full potential
  • EXCELLENCE – We give our best efforts with endless passion and a challenge spirit to become world best in every way
  • CHANGE – We rapidly take the initiative in executing change and innovation with a risk awareness: we cannot survive if we do not constantly strive to innovate
  • INTEGRITY – We act in a right and ethical way in all manners, ensuring fairness with honour and grace
  • CO-PROSPERITY – We take full responsibilities as a good corporate citizen in pursuit of mutual prosperity with our community, nation and human society

These values are also integral in creating the brand of the business.  As a customer of many Samsung products I can relate to and see these values reflected in their products and services. The same can be said for the values of Apple or Google.  The values of these businesses are established and embedded in every level of the organisation.  What are the true values of your organisation, and are your stated values the same as what your customers and employees see on a daily basis? If not, what do you need to change to make that happen?  Your values matter, as does your culture and brand.  Make reality reflect what where you want to be.