Values Schmalues Part 2

I just read and commented on a great post by one of my fav bloggers about corporate culture. Specifically: living one’s organizational values. It’s a nice follow on to my last post so I thought I’d incorporate it here.

CEO Lars Dalgaard of Success Factors knew that a positive, “be nice to each other” culture was a good thing. He knew it enough to espouse it publicly and go so far as to write them down in a list of rules. Likewise, our Esteemed CEO mentioned in my last post knows that editorial quality is a good thing, that it is a competitive advantage, that it has earned the company awards in recognition of it.

So why does Mr. Dalgaard (allegedly) act like the a$$ that he purports to abhor? Why does our CEO make both strategic and tactical decisions that go against these stated commitments to quality?

POP QUIZ:
First Question: What needs to be present in an organization to set organizational values and live by them? Here’s a top of mind list. Would love to hear from others on this:

1. A CEO who knows what a value is, that one should have a few and that they require maintenance.
2. VALUES THAT ACTUALLY WORK.*
3. A management team that knows what those values are and knows how they are to be upheld.
4. An employee population that knows what those values are and knows how they are to be upheld.
5. Organizational systems that support value maintenance including: recruitment, selection, assimilation, compensation, benefits, culture, communication, performance management, training, termination.

*Having values that actually work is key. Obvious? You’d think. But that’s a great subject for the next post.

Second Question: What makes an organizational value “good”? Some thoughts:
1. It contributes positively to the company’s market value.
2. Well, that about wraps it up….no?

So in order to have good values and live them:

  • Hopefully our CEO has a handle on what organizational characteristics contributes to market value (profitability, quality products; good customer service and relations; strong investor relations; the in-house competence and capability to be nimble and responsive…)
  • And hopefully our CEO has a sense of what contributes to the strength of those characteristics (fiscal responsibility, thrift, service-mindedness, talented employees, etc.).
  • And hopefully our CEO has chosen a strong senior management team who are held accountable for positively impacting those value levers.
  • And hopefully our CEO has in place a solid mechanism for fueling and maintaining the resulting organizational ecosystem that achieves that positive market value.

CASE STUDY FOR MEDIA COMPANIES
What to do about our CEO shunning quality in favor of speed, integrity in favor of money, cray talk/evolution over tradition/death by legacy? Well, in THIS case, market value has been redefined in this CEO’s industry. What used to be assets (print publications) are now liabilities, what used to be part and parcel of the business (print subscribers) are now a dwindling resource (yet critical to database growth). So much has changed in terms of the business model, that so much must change in the business.

So, in THIS case, our CEO might be right. In THIS case, perhaps we need to COMPLETELY rethink how we do business. No. Perhaps we need to COMPLETELY rethink what business we’re in. Yes. Even if we decide to be in the same business, it requires some thought, some reorganization, some vision. And some values.

In THAT case, how can we help CEO recast our values – while preserving our strengths – in support of not only increased market value but, indeed, long term viability?

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