Values

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is, “Should values be my personal values or the values I see for my business?” The answer is your values should be the same or at the very least, aligned. Otherwise you are potentially sending conflicting messages and are headed for chaos.

Take a word of advice from Jesus Christ regarding the wise man and the foolish man: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27 King James Version (KJV)

Your values are the ROCK your business is built upon. Are your values for your business consistent with your personal beliefs? What message are you sending to your customers or clients? Do they know what you stand for when they see you out of the context of your business?

Guiding Vision

Have you ever been in a position where you were searching for a word to use and you kept calling out every word possible, BUT the word you were looking for? The English language is riddled with words that sound similar but can mean the very opposite of each other; for example, “evade” and “invade”. One means to sidestep and the other means to enter.

There are also those words spelled the same but mean different things. My favorite is “desert”. Now you didn’t confuse this word with something that means a sweet treat following a meal (dessert), did you? “Desert” pronounced one way means a dry, arid terrain. Pronounced another way means to abandon or leave.

Growing up in the United States, I have become accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of the American English language. That still doesn’t help me when I am searching for a specific word, so now you know why the dictionary and I are good friends. I mention this hurdle of confusion in language, because as we look at the Vision statement, it occurs to me that there is a lot of confusion around the subject.

When Joanne and I were first working on the Dynamic Strategy program we found folks writing a vision statement that, in fact, was a mission statement and vice versa. The two are not spelled the same and while the two sound somewhat similar, they are two very different statements and are defined differently. We define the Vision statement as the long-term view of a possible future of the organization; it outlines what the organization wants to be and concentrates on the future.

The vision is a source of inspiration and provides clear decision-making criteria. This is a crucial point and can’t be underscored enough. It means that as a leader, in your day-to-day activities of running the organization, when you have decisions to make, big or small, you want to consider what your organizational vision is and what impact your decisions will have on it.

Many organizations lose their focus over time and this is where it may start. They become content with the present circumstances, remaining in the present with no thought of the future. This leads to a loss of direction and motivation for the organization. Understanding that a Vision statement needs to motive others, we also can see why it is used to direct an organization’s future. It answers the question of where the organization is going. Without it, an organization can be lost.

Is your Vision statement clearly defining the future-state of your organization? Does your Vision statement provide clear decision-making criteria? Do you and your employees know, with out a doubt, where your business is headed?

Values

As a business we are always trying to match our customer’s needs with our product or services. Matching needs is also applicable when we are working on our business values. It is important to understand what our individual needs are from the business and what the business needs from us to make both of us successful.

We should be mindful that when these needs match, we are more likely to be successful and not sending out conflicting messages. For example, if I have a personal need to write and work alone for long periods of time, but my business demands that I am in the public arena for a minimum of 16 hours a day, it doesn’t take much to see that failure is in the near future.

In the Bible, the account of the Exodus gives us a good example of matching needs. In the Ten Commandments, God provided a list of things he needs from his people and throughout history, people cry out to God with their needs from him. In our modern world, organizations try to present and demonstrate their needs in their values or value statement. They further expand on the values with their vision and mission statements. It occurs to me that the original values were presented in the Ten Commandments. Think about it. Values like honor, integrity, love, honesty, respect, discipline, dignity, and many others can be identified or at the very least, interpreted to match each of the Commandments.

What are your personal values and what are your business values? Do they match or at least align? Should they? What happens if they don’t?