Sorebrek's Musings and Ramblings

In search of the holy grail of an MBA (class of 2008 hopeful), this space will hopefully chronicle the search and my other quixotic pursuits.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Practise of Core Values

Another week and another reflection paper. For those who care to read on:

While core values by themselves are noble objectives and may often set the course for an organization, I cannot help but wonder how it relates to the organization itself. Let me clarify. Arguably, the people that it employs define an organization. If that were so, why is the practice of core values so far removed from most of the work force? While the recent trend is to have employees come up with a list of core values, it still does not address the implementation of these values:
  1. Most organizations start off with BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) and core values, usually announced in some sort of all-hands meeting with much fanfare. Most middle managers are unable to translate these core values to departmental, individual and everyday activity. Grass root employees are on one hand encouraged to think loftily and on the other to act by the book. This dichotomy creates thinkers and doers. Thinkers come up with core values, doers realize that these values have little to no impact on their lives; cynicism sets in. Things soon get to a point where the ‘core value debacle’ turns out to be the kiss of death for productivity.
  2. Another mistake most organizations make is the classic follow-up error, i.e. the lack of any credible follow-up. Progress based on core values is never reflected upon. Even when it is, here is what usually happens: if it worked, it is attributed to the clairvoyance of executive vision, not because the entire company embraced the values. If it failed, our core values were misplaced; between the lines is also the inevitable message that you doer guys didn’t get it.
  3. Inconsistent emphasis is another problem when attempting to effect change via core values. In a company dealing in products with a life-cycle pattern, for example software that goes through design, development, testing and support, during the initial phases there is tremendous amount of activity defining the core values and feel-good expounding of vision. By mid-cycle, the core values are fading; nobody knows what if anything these had to do with their work. When reality a.k.a deadlines set in, core values disappears, urgency sets in and conformity to the old ways of doing things rule.
The danger is that over the years, core values have come to acquire a rather cynical aura. Employees are starting to see this as another means for the executives to divert their minds from existential matters such as compensation.


Post a Comment

<< Home