Business Columns & Blogs

What are your organization’s values, and why should you care?

The Boise Foothills are part of what makes Boise livable. Prime mountain biking weather beckoned to Terry Deeble of Boise and his son Braden, then 5, to the Crestline Trail after a ride in the Foothills in 2014.
The Boise Foothills are part of what makes Boise livable. Prime mountain biking weather beckoned to Terry Deeble of Boise and his son Braden, then 5, to the Crestline Trail after a ride in the Foothills in 2014. doswald@idahostatesman.com

If you had to create a brand for yourself, based on the values you hold, what would it be?

Values are the foundation that drive your behaviors, your decisions, and make you appealing — or not — as a person others want to be around or be like. It’s what you stand for.

Now think of a company you have had a remarkably negative experience with. What were your assumptions about that organization, after that experience? Go to the firm’s website and see if it lists values of what the firm is or wants to be known for. Does the list match your experience? If not, that firm is in trouble.

Whether we like it or not, organizational values matter. Russ Stoddard, author of “Rise Up,” says values are like pheromones, sending signals to customers and employees that say what your organization stands for.

He claims that some organizational leaders don’t think deliberately enough when they create values and supporting statements. So he encourages leaders to take time and really consider what they want their organization’s values to be.

He uses an example close to home, the city of Boise, which has the vision of being the country’s “most livable city.” The value statements clarify what that means using LIV as a trigger (page 42):

L: Lasting environments. Recognize, protect and improve the health and sustainability of all our activities, our connections to one another, and our natural resources.

I: Innovative enterprises. Work with individuals, nonprofits, and businesses to encourage creativity and collaboration that will promote economic prosperity and improve lives.

V: Vibrant communities. Engage citizens and organizations to spark new connections, inspire cooperation, and strengthen Boise’s rich, community-minded spirit.

Keep in mind that organizations express those values in many ways — not just words on a poster or wall. Physical infrastructure and environment can help. If you think about Boise’s first value of lasting environments, we see and experience the connections to each other (as a smaller, informal community) and to nature around us (the Greenbelt, the Foothills).

Why do all of this? As Stoddard says, employees and customers are increasingly looking for organizations to work with that give meaning, have a clear purpose, and make the experience exceptional.

So what are you waiting for? What are your values?

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