Most entrepreneurs start out in business because they have a product or service that they feel proficient in producing or delivering. They are great at identifying “what they sell” and “how they do it” and often neglect to ask themselves:
- Who are we?
- What do we stand for?
- Where are we going?
- What is our purpose?
- How do we get there?
- What are the parameters that will guide this process?
These are among some of the fundamental questions each and every business owner must ask and answer for their business to be successful.
Undoubtedly, most business owners carry their Vision, Mission, and Core Values around in their mind, but few take the time to articulate and communicate these details to their team and customers.
Jim Collins speaks extensively about these elements in his book “Built to Last”. These elements serve as a guide or compass against which all business decisions and strategy need to be aligned. And most importantly, they need to be in writing for everyone to see. We often ask the question…. What is the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire? Answer: A Millionaire has a plan and a Billionaire writes it down.
Often, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary businesses comes down to how well these three core elements are developed and utilized. Investing the time and effort to clarify your Mission, Vision, Core Values, and what you stand for strengthens your belief, and therefore the likelihood of achieving your goals. We will focus the next several articles around these topics because we believe that these elements are a requirement for any business to thrive. Today we will focus on Core Vlaues.
Core values guide day-to-day behaviors both within your organization as well as interactions with clients and customers. Collectively, they create the desired culture of your organization. These are often called our beliefs and philosophies.
Core Values tend to be few in number and meet the following criteria:
- They form a collective company-wide belief. An organization requires values shared as a unit regardless of the values held separately by each individual.
- They determine the standards of acceptable behavior concerning how to approach your work.
- They are enduring and consistent over time. They are one of the last things you would want to give up no matter what is happening with or within the company.
- They are driven by, and crystallized from, the top leadership in the company and telegraphed all the way through the organization.
Leaders must be an example to others in your organization. Team members will learn the company core values from the leaders who exemplify and instill these values in everything they do supported by the things that they say.
Core values are what support the company vision, shape the culture of the organization and reflect what a company values. They are the essence of the company’s identity – the principles, beliefs or philosophy of values. Many companies focus mostly on their primary product, service or technical competencies and forget what the underlying competencies are that make their companies run smoothly - core values.
Establishing strong core values provides both internal and external advantages to the company:
- Core values help companies in every decision-making process. For example, if one of your core values is to respond to a client issue within 24 hours, your company should build systems to support this performance standard.
- Core values educate clients and potential clients about what the company is about and clarify the identity of the company. Our competitive world today almost demands having a set of specific core values that speak to the public. All companies that wish to maintain a competitive advantage must do this.
- Core values are becoming critical recruiting and retention tools. Job seekers do their homework on companies. They are applying for and weighing whether these companies hold the values that the job seekers consider as important.
At the end of the day, progressive companies must be open-minded, growth-oriented and flexible. In business, great entrepreneurs know that they must be open to new ideas. Success comes from knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
RINA has proven participatory facilitation core value exercises and have worked with organizations that have built 100% consensus among key management groups. We believe that core values are one of the key ingredients needed for every organization that aspires to grow and thrive in this ever-changing dynamic world. The truth is that great visionary companies began with a set of strong core values and a relentless drive for progress. Most importantly, they had a remarkable ability to translate these core values into concrete mechanisms.
Look for our next article to learn how these core values fit into the foundation of other key elements of a well-groomed, strong visionary company. Need our help? Please visit our website www.rina.com or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.