As a facilitator, I have often worked with groups in the process of clarifying their common values. Inevitably, there is someone in the group who questions the value of this exercise. It is true that there are a lot of generic, meaningless values statements gathering dust in drawers across the nation. So how do we keep this conversation relevant and ensure that the results really LIVE within the organization?
I’m in the midst of reading Patrick Lencioni‘s new book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. Lencioni is one of my favorite authors, writing business books in the form of stories that actually keep me awake all night! In The Advantage, he sorts values into four categories: core, aspirational, accidental, and permission-to-play.
Permission-to-play values are those basic fundamentals that need to be present in ANY organization. They include things like honesty, integrity, and customer service, and they tend to crop up on the generic lists mentioned above. While they are important, they are not what differentiates one organization from another.
Aspirational values are those that are not yet part of our day-to-day life, but which we want to cultivate. It will take planning and effort to achieve these and turn them into good habits. Accidental values are those behaviors and routines that creep in unintentionally and may only be visible to an outsider.
Core values are the two or three behavioral traits that lie at the heart of the organization; they are deep and they do not change. They inform everything that the organization does, from hiring to strategic planning to marketing.
The core values of my business are the core values of my life:
- Creating connections with people
- Making the world a better, friendlier, more beautiful place
- Having fun
Does Lencioni’s organizational scheme make sense to you? What are YOUR core values?