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What are Core Values?

So far we have covered Vision and Mission in our series of blogs. In most Strategic Management Frameworks, Vision, Mission and Core Values are completed, at least in draft, to get the ball rolling. These pieces of the jigsaw fit into a Strategic Management Framework, which in turn is incorporated into many organizations’ “holistic” Performance Management Framework.

Core Values guide the day behaviour of an organization. They are the values or “behavioural descriptions” of what we want people to think about when they hear the organization’s name mentioned. “Oh, CAMMS they are………………..”

Sounds simple, yes, but there are some twists and turns to consider.

Relevant Core Values

I am 56, short and dumpy; I would love to be 28, tall and built like a Greek god! Now we all know that is just not going to happen!!

It is pointless to just pick some wishful values without addressing the types of values you require to successfully undertake your mission or core reason for being.

The question that has to be asked is: what values do we need to be successful and sustainable? I say sustainable because these values must underpin “ongoing” success and not short term opportunism.

How Many is Too Many Core Values?

The setting of Core Values should be a well thought through exercise.

Many organizations get caught up in trying to cover all the bases. An organization needs to be able to focus on establishing a culture that is consistent with your values. This is difficult to achieve if you nominate too many values.

Yes, we all want our organizations to be perfect; however in reality organizations, like people, develop complex “personalities”. Any more than 6 values and you have the likelihood of not achieving any change in cultural related behaviour.

Cultural Change Linked to Core Values

Organizational culture and behaviour largely influence the Core Values that underpin the business. I have undertaken Executive/Board workshops where the Core Values desired are far removed from the empirical evidence of what the Core Values are in reality.

Cultural/Change Management is a major factor in achieving your desired Core Values. To deliver core services that underpin your mission and deliver your desired future you need to ensure that your operating climate, reward systems and cultural change management programs are consistent with the values you want to achieve.

For example you can’t foster a Core Value of “innovation” if all decision making is centralised and there is a “military” type culture of taking orders or people are afraid of punishment for mistakes.

Core Values Exercise

Undertake a series of workshops across, and up and down an organization on the type of Core Values that should be considered (many organizations just develop a comprehensive list in advance). Bring a cross section of stakeholders together and undertake a “Las Vegas voting” exercise.

A Las Vegas voting exercise is simple. Every stakeholder gets 7 votes; they can place 7 votes against one Core Value, or one vote each against seven different Core Values, or any other combination. Ask the individuals to place their votes against the list (in confidence) and collate the responses. One the vote has been counted reveal the outcome and discuss as a group the result.

Hopefully you will negotiate no more than 6 Core Values!


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