Most businesses have values that they abide by, but often they do not take the time to explicitly identify them. By defining and sharing your core values, you can help unite your team, quickly communicate to customers what you are all about, and use them to guide decision making. Core values define what your organization stands for, highlighting an expected and idealized set of behaviors and skills. Today, we outline a simple process that will help you narrow and define your company core values list.
Before we begin, we want to encourage you to keep an open mind during this discovery process. You may think you already have a good idea of what your final list will be, but I encourage you to cast as wide a net as possible to see what new or underlying ideas emerge. For this exercise, assemble members of your team who have a wide variety of perspectives about the company and are willing to participate.
Ask all participants to list what they believe are your company’s imperatives, ideal behaviors, desired skills, and most significant strengths. You want to uncover what values already exist at your company’s core so that you can build on them throughout this process. In this brainstorming phase, no idea is too out of the box. You want to compile a broad list of values so that you capture a full picture of your team’s perspective.
Next, you will take the long list you have just created and group them by similar themes. For example, experimentation, innovation, and ingenuity could all be grouped under the same heading.
After this, you want to develop one term that best represents the words in each value group. This will create a narrowed down list that encompasses all of the most important values to you. During this stage, you may also prioritize the terms that emerge from most to least important.
Now that you have the list, you can enlist the help of a skilled writer on your team to add polish. Some companies will find that a single word for each value is sufficient, but others will want to use phrases or a one-sentence description. This depends on the overall goal for your list and when and how you plan to share it. Take some time wordsmith the list to ensure it is creative and polished.
You can now circulate your final list with key stakeholders so that they have a chance to make edits or suggestions. Consider final questions such as how each value will aid in decision making, how they will age over the next several years, and how accurately they represent your distinct culture.
Once you have a final, edited list, you can begin to share and use it. You will want to share the values list with your team and hire people moving forward that fit this list. When you are making difficult decisions, you can refer back to your values to weigh your options. Finally, you can share these values with potential customers on your website or in proposals so that they know what you stand for. Many customers make purchase decisions based on their values.
We hope these tips help you uncover your company’s core values so that you can use them in internal and external communication and decision making. Have your own experiences with this process? Share them with us on Twitter, @KuvioCreative.
Are you interested in aligning your branding with your values? Contact us today for a free consultation.
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