DW's Blog

Values Statement

by DW Green — February 14, 2018

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Living with integrity requires an ever-present awareness.

I read a great article in Harvard Business Review this week. Ban These 5 Words From Your Corporate Values Statement, by Denise Lee Yohn.

Denise writes, “Practically every organization today has a set of core values that ideally function as the ‘operating instructions’ of the company. The goal of articulating the essential and enduring principles of your organization is to inform, inspire, and instruct the day-to-day behaviors of everyone who works at your company. But this rarely happens, because most core values statements don’t get at what’s unique about the firm.”

Denise bans the following five terms from every core values list she works on:

Ethical (or integrity), Teamwork, Authentic, Fun and Customer-oriented. She writes, “Not only are these concepts mere table stakes for any business that wants to be competitive in today’s environment, they also don’t specify what is distinctive or uniquely valuable about your organization.”

I agree with her overall premise and four of the five terms she believes should be banned. The one I question is Ethical (or integrity). According to Denise, “every company should operate ethically and with integrity — and by stating this concept as one of your core values, you raise the question of why you have to point it out.”

I wonder about banning integrity has a core value. Volkswagen and Apple come to mind as recent examples of how a company’s decision-making process became unprincipled or diminished. Living with integrity requires an ever-present awareness of BEING true to our values. Pursuit of profit can bend or alter our intention to faithfully and honestly serve our stakeholders. I believe integrity is more than a table stake to be competitive; integrity is the foundation of trustworthiness both inside and outside an organization. Unfortunately, not all companies are integrous or care to be.

Here’s a link to the article. I believe it’s worth your time reading.

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