ORGANIC VS. STRATEGIC VALUES
By Jeff Sullivan
Whether or not you choose to create a strategic well communicated set of values, your organization will make decisions and take action on a set of values. Absent a deliberate plan, these values will grow organically and most likely represent the personal values of the people who can help or hurt you the most. In larger organizations this can mean that you have competing sets of values that are at odds with one another, creating a serious distraction and wasting valuable resources. For example, if an employee knows that the CEO values “no mistakes” but her direct supervisor values “creative ideas” she will often find herself in conflict between the “sure bet” way to no mistakes versus taking a risk and trying something new. Similarly, if the direct supervisor values high profit margins but an employee’s major client values integrity, the two values may at times collide, and the employee will not know the “right thing to do.” Successful organizations run a single value system imbedded into all of its people practices. These well communicated and integrated values serve to reduce distractions and conflict and make decision-making easier.
Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computer, put it well. “The only thing that works is management by values. Find people who are competent and really bright, but more importantly, people who care exactly about the same things you care about.”