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More About Building an Organization Based on Values

The Strategic Planning Framework for Vision, Mission, Values


Want the background about why values are important in an organization? See the impact that identifying organizational values can have.

Values are traits or qualities that are considered worthwhile; they represent an individual’s highest priorities and deeply held driving forces.

Value statements are grounded in values and define how people want to behave with each other in the organization. They are statements about how the organization will value customers, suppliers, and the internal community. Value statements describe actions that are the living enactment of the fundamental values held by most individuals within the organization.

Vision is a statement about what the organization wants to become. The vision should resonate with all members of the organization and help them feel proud, excited, and part of something much bigger than themselves. A vision should stretch the organization’s capabilities and image of itself. It gives shape and direction to the organization’s future.

Mission/Purpose is a precise description of what an organization does. It should describe the business the organization is in. It is a definition of "why" the organization exists currently. Each member of an organization should be able to verbally express this mission.

Strategies are the broadly defined four or five key approaches the organization will use to accomplish its mission and drive toward the vision. Goals and action plans usually flow from each strategy.

One example of a strategy is employee empowerment and teams. Another is to pursue a new worldwide market in Asia. Another is to streamline your current distribution system using lean management principles.

I recommend that you start developing this strategic framework by identifying your organization’s values. Create an opportunity for as many people as possible to participate in this process. All the rest of your strategic framework should grow from living these.

What are Values?

The following are examples of values. You might use these as the starting point for discussing values within your organization.

ambition, competency, individuality, equality, integrity, service, responsibility, accuracy, respect, dedication, diversity, improvement, enjoyment/fun, loyalty, credibility, honesty, innovativeness, teamwork, excellence, accountability, empowerment, quality, efficiency, dignity, collaboration, stewardship, empathy, accomplishment, courage, wisdom, independence, security, challenge, influence, learning, compassion, friendliness, discipline/order, generosity, persistency, optimism, dependability, flexibility

Why Identify and Establish Values?

Effective organizations identify and develop a clear, concise and shared meaning of values/beliefs, priorities, and direction so that everyone understands and can contribute. Once defined, values impact every aspect of your organization.

You must support and nurture this impact or identifying values will have been a wasted exercise. People will feel fooled and misled unless they see the impact of the exercise within your organization.

If you want the values you identify to have an impact, the following must occur.

  • People demonstrate and model the values in action in their personal work behaviors, decision making, contribution, and interpersonal interaction.

  • Organizational values help each person establish priorities in their daily work life.

  • Values guide every decision that is made once the organization has cooperatively created the values and the value statements.

  • Rewards and recognition within the organization are structured to recognize those people whose work embodies the values the organization embraced.

  • Organizational goals are grounded in the identified values.

  • Adoption of the values and the behaviors that result is recognized in regular performance feedback.

  • People hire and promote individuals whose outlook and actions are congruent with the values.

  • Only the active participation of all members of the organization will ensure a truly organization-wide, value-based, shared culture.

Want more in depth information about each of these? See vision, mission or purpose, values, and strategies defined.

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