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"Values" Don't Always Have Value

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

Many organizations have defined, corporate "values", but mostly, these values are only exercised on corporate placards, marketing brochures, and recruiting packages. They're usually aspirational fantasies at best and are rarely included in key discussions of performance, hiring, promotion, or compensation. Unfortunately, values are even less understood than they are utilized. Until we understand values within the context of culture and how culture keeps the organization focused on creating value and effectively operating towards its objectives, corporate values will have no value.

Culture for me is critically important to understand, define, and utilize to drive business value, innovation, and professional satisfaction. I define culture as the decending alignment of four variables:

  1. Mission Purpose - What unique product/service value do we create and for whose benefit do we create it?

  2. Vision - What unique value do we aspire to offer in the future and by when will we offer it?

  3. Market Strategy – How do we position, message, and deliver differentiated value to achieve our mission and vision in a competitive market?

  4. Values - What professional qualities and competencies must we individually and collectively operate with to optimally realize our mission, vision, and strategy?

If values are to have value they must be defined, communicated, promoted, and measured as one dimension of total executive and management performance. Total performance should be measured as:

  1. Financial Impact - business contributions and financial outcomes

  2. Culture Impact - how one models values and contributes to the internal execution of the strategy, mission, and vision

  3. Client Impact - Client/customer satisfaction and impact

Many organizations only measure performance solely as financial outcomes. I think we're all familiar with the multitude of dysfunctional behavior and unintended consequences that cascade from using this single metric to define performance. Without financial growth, organizations and careers fail. I get it, but client and cultural impact, as I define them, are critical to creating high functioning and sustainable business operations that innovate, scale, and deliver long-term differentiated value and relationships. They also happen to be a better place for top talent to realize their professional and financial goals because they operate with minimal dysfunction and political nonsense. When total performance is transparently defined and rewarded, "values" and have value!

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