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Check Your Organization's Values Before Launching into Improvement

Feb 29, 2008
Lacking a meaningful purpose can cause aimlessness when faced with irresistible forces. In light of that, how can you and your organization maintain a strong sense of purpose and direction when you are buffeted by volatile organizational conditions?

You need to find powerful, motivating values that will direct your enterprise towards a more empowering and successful future. You should also check for alignment and clarity in light of the future scenarios that could possibly happen due to irresistible forces.

Understanding the importance of values, alignment, and clarity can help you avoid the negative consequences of having a directionless feeling permeate your enterprise.

Use This Check to Retrieve Your Values from the Vestibule

Every enterprise has a core of common values that attracted the people who work there to it and that and keeps them there. To avoid succumbing to the directionless stall, you need to make sure everyone in the organization knows what those values are, clearly understands them, and knows what to do as a result when irresistible forces arise.

What are your organization's common values now? Begin to find the answer to this question by polling everyone in your organization on what his or her values are. Some organizations find that it can help to have this polling done by an external organization that promises confidentiality. If trust is low in your organization, this step can help.

The first time you do this polling, let people simply tell you what the values are that they consider important. If you aren't sure what they mean, ask for more details in the form of an example. Outstanding service organizations like the Disney theme parks and the Ritz-Carlton hotels report a common desire to serve others as an important shared value. High technology companies often find that a desire to use knowledge to solve difficult problems is a shared value.

Next, check for commonality by asking everyone to rate or rank the significance of each value that is relatively common. This list will jog some people's memories. The ones that are almost universally ranked as significant comprise your list.

Is your enterprise operating in alignment with the enterprise's common values? Here is where most organizations stumble.

Ask everyone how well she or he thinks the organization is acting relative to its values. Are the values being used for direction, or are they being checked at the door when people arrive at work each morning? Ask for examples of where the alignment between personal values and behavior is both good and bad.

Realize that you'll need to take action based on what you learn and to keep people apprised of what you are doing. Otherwise, you will have stirred up frustration over the company's unwillingness to live its values.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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