How much thought do you give to your company’s corporate core values? Are you able to say (without looking them up on the website) what they are? Once you look at them again, to what extent do you think those values reflect the behavior of the company to its Customers? What about to its employees?
It was probably in the late 1980’s that corporate core values came into fashion. Surely at that time there were those companies which felt strongly about their set of core values and others that were little more than the output of Marketing consternation. In contemporary business, the definition of and adherence to a strong set of corporate core values are a necessary element in creating a differentiated business persona.
I would guess that in any company there’s a mixture of employees for which the core values are either conceptually important, materially important, or warranting no thought whatsoever. Indeed and as suggested by an acquaintance of mine, Octavio Ballesta, when there is no a clear match between corporate culture and employee’s attitude to work, serious disengagement and frustration can happen. This is particularly true in those conservative and traditionalist corporate cultures, where proactive employees face an effective barrier to innovate, communicate effectively, and assume business risks calculatedly.
I would also bet there’s a similar mix of attitudes about corporate core values across the prospective population of Customers. The definitive acid test in commitment to core values would be those businesses that would decline business based on misalignment with stated core values.
I was recently reading an interview with Blair Christie, Cisco’s senior vice president of Corporate Communications, in which she mentioned something that caught my interest. She suggested that whether in strong economic times or tough economic times, it’s the core values of the company that pulls it through.
This caused some degree of reflection on my part, as it relates to the IT assessment activities that I do for our Clients. That is, to the degree that the Corporate Core Values are relevant and evident in the activities and behavior of the Business, this may also serve as a compass to be used when necessary in the discovery and profiling of the enterprise.
That is to say, if we have a high degree of confidence in the adherence to the core values, this may be relied upon to project a trend where gaps exist in data gathering. Similarly, if the stated confidence level is high, this compass could help in the projection of the impact of what-if scenarios.
How does one know whether the corporate value statements are the litmus test for routine business decisions or just slogans with no animating spirit? To assess the degree to which core values are engrained in the corporate DNA a fair degree of observation and discovery needs to take place. A sufficient number of levels in the organization need to be observed to discover how deep is the understanding of corporate mission and core values in different organizational instances. Depending also on the size of the overall organization (that is, smaller organizations and those with shallow org charts), the word of executive leadership may be evidence enough to determine the viability of the corporate core values as a compass for the filling in of enterprise profile gaps.