It feels so good to have nailed your business strategy. You’ve got your Mission, vision, values and goals locked and loaded and yet the progress to your desired outcomes is still lumpy.   Extremely frustrating. A.k.a. hell.
To help identify the key causes of this “hell” we need to clarify how well:
  • Understood your values are in the organisation, and
  • Embedded they are at every level of activity.
Let’s face it, if staff are uncertain what behaviours are desirable versus questionable, then there will be inconsistent implementation of your strategic priorities -> Hell… To make sure we are all on the same page, let’s start with a couple of definitions. Quick definition of values So… Values are about “being.” For example, ABC company is/wants to be:
  • innovative,
  • inspirational,
  • challenging,
  • tribal,
  • honest etc.
Behaviours are about “doing.” Continuing this example, ABC company: continually reinvest in bringing new products to market, supports community initiatives to bring youth more opportunity in lower socio-economic areas, disrupts the sector with its business model and approach to collaboration, encourages and celebrates company heroes, and stands by money back guarantees every time, no questions asked. Benchmarking Firstly, benchmark your values’ current status Perform a quick check that your values are about being and not doing. Secondly, benchmark staff behaviours Here you need to establish if your staff are circa 80% aligned in how they respond to the same business scenarios/situations. This is easily done via a quick anonymous survey for larger organisations. If you are at venture stage, then just get together in a workshop style approach. The goal is to ask a bunch of provocative questions, which outline different business scenarios / situations relevant to implementing your strategy, such that each question offers a short list of different responses available, including “none of the above.” Each question can only be answered with one of the choices given. Also, staff must work alone and answer all the questions. Abstentions are not allowed ? If you are in a workshop style environment, have one question and its relevant answers per flip chart page. Then ask each person to vote on each question using post it notes (one post it vote per question per person). Then you can quickly see how aligned the team is on each question. Remember to keep urgency going, so people vote before checking how others are voting! It should be an amusing kind of frenzy. Thereafter, review the survey or the flipcharts. If behaviours are aligned circa 80% of the time, then your values are well embedded. However, if they are not here’s a few proven ways to move out of misalignment hell and get your foot in the door to alignment heaven. Easy wins to align values and strategy
  • Stories: As noted in Tip 5 of “Top 5 tips for developing game changing business strategy,” [click through] I mention using stories to bring strategy alive at a grassroots level across an organisation. The goal is to celebrate stories that demonstrate how desired behaviours (as expressions of company values) are celebrated, as well as mistakes learned with a view to driving word-of-mouth seamlessly. The more staff talk about the stories, the more your values will live and breathe day-to-day in your business.
  • Hiring approach. When you hire, do you evaluate how new talent fits with the core values of your enterprise? It surprises me how despite the varied technology available to analyse skills, behaviours and even core beliefs, insufficient time is taken to overlay a person’s innate way of being with the core values of a business. It’s not about looking for a perfect match. It’s about looking for enough of the match to be confident that when working with other colleagues and making decisions for the business they will fit well in the organisation. This is something that should be checked each year during performance reviews, as peoples’ value systems morph.
  • Events. If you have the budget, consider six monthly offsite get togethers for diverse members of the organisation to make connections within an environment designed to bring the company values to life in authentic and fun way. For example, have a look at Corporate Battlefields. If your budget is constrained then think about holding some staff awards say, quarterly/six monthly, which applaud exemplary behaviours based on stories (as noted above).
In summary
  • Check your values are about “being” and not “doing,”
  • Benchmark your values for alignment with your strategy – aim for 80%, and
  • Implement some easy wins to drive engagement with your values day-to-day.
It would be great to know how well placed you think you are when considering the alignment of your values with your strategic outcomes. Let me know your thoughts ….