What is the Value of Values?

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Work with values? Isn’t that just soft?

What we’ve learned is that the soft stuff and the hard stuff are becoming more intertwined. A company’s values – what it stands for, what it’s people believe in – are crucial to its competitive success. Indeed, values drive the business.

Robert Hass, when CEO and Chairman of Levi Strauss (1990)
Robert Hass shared this insight following a five year period in which sales increased by 31%, and profits rose fivefold to $272 million.
Does Levi Strauss & Co still have precisely the same statement of purpose and values as when it made the first-ever blue jeans in 1873? No, it doesn’t. The company purpose is still the same ‘to deliver profits through principles to make an outsize impact on the world’ but how it expresses and embodies its values have moved with the times.

Shouldn’t organisational core values be set in stone forever?

No. Values are dynamic to context, and they arise from the view of the world held by the human beings that make up that organisation. The world is not the same place as it was even two years ago let alone 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The people inside organisations are not the same as in previous generations. It is good business practice to revisit and revitalise core values.In 2015 research published in the European Journal of Management set out to answer the central question ‘will articulating your values pay off?’ Moreover, if it does what does the evidence say about the best practice? There are a variety of theories which suggest that having articulated core values makes it easier to attract the talent you are looking for, inspires greater confidence in stakeholders and investors, and help organisations be more agile in an increasingly complex and uncertain world.

However, what did the research find?

Researchers studied the stated organisational values of 92 companies listed in the Fortune 100 and compared those findings to recognised measures of performance including profitability. Here are their key conclusions:
  • Companies with stated core values perform better than those without
  • Companies with 5 or 6 core values do better than those with 3 or 4
  • Companies with different values to their competitors do better than those with similar values. Proving that a ‘maverick’ set of values performs better than the usual soundbite type values.
  • Point Companies who refresh and revisit their values do better than those who don’t

So what?

Every person and every organisation (which is after all is a collection of people) has a pattern of priority values which shape their actions and attitudes every day: there is no choice in that. The decision lies in whether you want to connect that driving force to work or not consciously: and if you do, this research tells us a lot about ways to make that connection work well.

Working with values is just soft, I think not.

This blog was written by Jackie Le Fèvre, Director at Magma Effect. She is the Course Leader for our Values Workshops which you explore HERE.

The current dates for courses can be found on our calendar and include:

Understanding why values should matter – Tuesday 21 May 09:30 – 12:30

Values-Based Recruitment – Wednesday 22 May 09:30 – 4:30

Understanding why values should matter – Tuesday 25 June 1:30 – 4:30 

Values-Based Recruitment – Wednesday 26 June 09:30 – 4:30  

Exploring Strategy – Thursday 11 July 09:30 – 4:30

These courses can also be pulled together to form an in-house training programme.