Bright Minds: Aligning Action & Values

“You should spend a significant percentage of time actually trying to gain understanding, a tiny percentage documenting that understanding, and the vast majority of your time creating alignment. In short, worry about what you do as an organization, not what you say.” This is an excerpt from Jim Collins 2000 piece, ‘Aligning Action and Values,’ which was the topic of discussion in last week’s Bright Minds.

 

As companies put a bigger emphasis on social responsibility, they are focusing more on defining their core purpose and values early on. So what’s the difference between core purpose and values you ask?

 

Company Purpose

  • The guiding star that defines a business
  • Similar to the mission
  • A final business destination with several paths

 

Company Values

  • More nebulous, describe environment and people, and all lead towards the purpose
  • Define which path that a business takes (easy, complex, etc.)
  • Relatively unchanging – will always guide in the “how” of moving towards your purpose

 

The challenge here is that many companies force their values, and then do not live said values. This approach will simply not translate well internally nor externally. Here’s a few tips for anyone trying to establish their company values.

 

Discover, don’t create, values

Sketch a word cloud of the company attributes and identify the common values from the people. Values are uncovering what already exists and not forcing something that people are asked to abide by.

 

Distinguish between values and practices

It’s important to delineate between core traits and traditional practices. An interesting example is the tenure system at universities: Tenure is not a core tenet of a higher-education institution, but is something that has been in place for a long time. It is technically changeable; whereas the core traits of a university are not as much.

 

Don’t half-ass practices that represent values

Ensure that any strategies put in place uphold the core values. Basically, create ‘solutions with teeth’ for everyone to see.

 

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A Pocky stick toast!

 

This was really a fun exercise. Bright Funds’ core purpose and values are clear with every employee, which explains why we are so driven to make the business succeed. And while we acknowledge there are opportunities for the team to innovate, our alignment keeps us hyper-focused on achieving our goal of making the world a better place.

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