Towards higher values

   It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are

Roy E Disney, Entrepreneur

Everyone has values.

They are the underlying beliefs we hold that give us a feeling that something is off when we are asked to do something that doesn’t fit with those beliefs.

It could be a minor issue like how the coffee gets made around the office (although that turns out to be pretty major when someone breaks the system!) right up to whether it is justified to drive a pipeline through country which may risk the water supply for thousands in the area.

We all feel it when someone goes against our personal grain, the queue jumper, the person who just assumes they can take the chips off the plate you just pushed away, the neighbour who parks a caravan on your driveway… but to the other party their values differ. To them it is simple. If they don’t get the bus that is due any second, and already pretty full, they could lose their shift and the pay that goes with it. Those chips are the first solid food they’ve had access to in days. That caravan is their home and their lifestyle.

Neither side is one hundred percent right in any given scenario but the decisions were straightforward to each of the individuals because the values they held were ingrained. For some those values get challenged when circumstances shift, proving that change is possible.

It is perfectly feasible to determine a whole new set of values and apply them, it is challenging, but absolutely achievable.

If you are setting up a new business it’s perhaps a little easier. You write your strategies to determine the direction you want to go in, build the business to suit and employ accordingly.

Working with an existing company is harder. Cultures develop as a result of collective thinking, the make up of the associated minds of the people that work with you. Some of that will have been engendered through your behaviours as a business leader. If your team is treated well and feel engaged with your aims they will be much more likely to be working with you.

If that isn’t the case you may be experiencing resistance. If the organisation is using practices that cause harm, perhaps through expecting too much to be crammed into a working day, or by carrying out activities that pollute the environment, your team will be talking about it. They may not talk to you but they will almost certainly talk to each other and the culture you encounter will develop from there.

Of course those are the extremes, the vast majority of organisations will be somewhere in the middle.

Determine your values as an organisation and factor in the views of your colleagues. What are the issues that matter most to them? What are the issues you hope to work towards as an organisation? Where do the two marry up?

Of course, you may be working in a context where regulatory and contractual obligations play a part but they should not be your only drivers. A responsible business will take responsibility for their part in the wider communities in which they operate by ensuring that their values are respectful.

That means understanding where your supply chain has an impact, considering where your staff live and work, thinking about your entire business model from the perspective of the values you hold.

When you do, your decision making becomes easier because you have already done this thinking but it also enables you to think ahead to ensure that you take actions in a considered way with positive impacts and reduced or eliminated negative impacts.

Now doesn’t that feel like a higher value way to do business?


Identifying Values is the first stage of the Catalicity process for strategic development. Read more about how we can help on our website.

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