Values are what drive all our behaviours. What values aren’t - are things we decide or even choose to have ie they’re not conscious they’re unconscious. See my previous post for more on personal values.
The challenge is can we translate personal values into business values?
In this post from the 2015 archives I explore my answer to the above question - which means whilst useful examples they may no longer represent the current values of the organisations mentioned.
I know many organisations have published values statements but I wonder can we really suggest the current values statements used by most organisations are the same or even similar to our personal and unconscious values? And therefore should we be even calling them such? I’d suggest not - for a number of reasons:
What I believe is missing from many business values statements - is every behaviour and decision can't be assessed using most organisation's values statements. We can't look at most organisation's value statements and know what they're about because it's missing the fundamental reason organisations exist - to make money for their shareholders.
Let's look at Tesco for a moment - who at the time of writing had been censored by the supermarket watchdog for their treatment of suppliers and had stated business values of:
The problem is most hard financial business decisions can't be made using these criteria alone? And if they were real values you should be able to - and you'd have a hierarchy telling you their relative importance in relation to each other.
That is, an organisation could do all of the above and lose money but apparently that's ok because their values are being met, and their core purpose of 'creating value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty' has been met as a result. It's irrelevant that Tesco might not be there for their lifetime.
These business values would even question why Tesco even needed to increase payment terms in the first place?
Which means there's other decisions that are being made that sit outside this 'warm fluffy' list of behaviours that has no scrutiny, no agreement, and where anything goes, and are likely to be more important than anything that makes it's way onto the values list!
And that's the problem with business values - there are decisions being made that sit outside the business values criteria, and as such mean I have no idea what sort of company I'm really dealing with!
Yes we could look at Tesco's previous treatment of suppliers and say it contravened 'treat people how we like to be treated' but the original decision to increase payment terms didn't need to use these criteria to obtain agreement.
I wondered about VW's Values:
Nothing there about the product they manufacture, the pricing, the customers, the shareholders etc. So lots of great stuff but nothing that tells me who they are as a company, nor why they do what they do and so on.
If you're still not sure what I mean here's Innocent Drinks values:
You might not agree with their every decision - especially if you're focussed and appreciated their Be Natural value, and would therefore prefer that it be their only focus - but at least it's honest about the decisions they make, and behaviours you might expect from them.
And Ben and Jerry's values statement goes even further and "operates on a three-part mission that aims to create linked prosperity for everyone that’s connected to our business: suppliers, employees, farmers, franchisees, customers, and neighbors alike" and covers:
Do your business values provide the criteria for every decision you make, or is unclear how the decisions you make daily fit into the corporate values statement?