9th October 2019

Are your Core Values alive in your business?

Rockefeller Habits #7

7. Core Values and Purpose are “alive” in the organisation.

Every constituency of people will have their own, unique Core Values. Those core values are usually implicit, rather than explicit but they will exist. Values are the hidden filters that drive our behaviours and core values refer to those major values that the members of a certain constituency deem to be essential to remain a valued member of their community. They are the handful of rules that every good society has and maintains. We believe that it is important to know what our core values are and to codify them. Only that way can we be sure that we will preserve what we are when we are at our best and prevent what we are at our core from being either contaminated or diluted as we grow.

Meaning and Purpose

Our purpose refers to the ‘why’ of the business. Why are we in business? What is it we are trying to achieve? What difference are we making in the world? The philosopher Nietzsche said that ‘he who has a why to live for can put up with any how. The purpose of a business gives meaning as well as purpose to the enterprise.

Alignment and Behaviour

Rockefeller habit 7 states that both Core Values and Core Purpose should be alive in the organisation. It has become fashionable recently for firms to define their core values and often their purpose but they are meaningless unless they are truly alive in the business. In other words, everyone knows what they are, what they mean and are actually living by them. So executives will refer to them when giving praise or reprimands. HR processes should align with them, informing how we hire and who we hire, how we fire and how we develop our people. They should be, as the name implies, at the very core of our business. They define us, how we behave and what we are about and should be given that centrality of meaning.

If we fail to define our core values and purpose we are likely to suffer from a lack of direction and lack of clear identity as a business. We will be unable to define the qualities that we value when we are at our best and the development and maintenance of a positive, healthy culture will be too random to be a sustainable asset.