What is a Value Foundation?
A Value Foundation is the heart of your company’s origin. It looks at how and why you started the business, what your company is all about, and the values that drive your culture and behaviors. It is the essence and underpinning of the enterprise. The Value Foundation comprises four elements:
- Your vision
- Your purpose
- Your mission
- Your values
Without a clear Value Foundation, your organization is like a rudderless boat, lacking direction and meaning. Let’s look at each of these elements and their importance.
Vision is usually thought of as your business’s future state. It is inspirational and motivational for your employees. But it’s more than that. It’s about your original vision for the business. Why did you start the business? What problem were you hoping to solve? How did you envision the future of the company? What market need were you addressing? And don’t tell me that you did it just for the money, or because you were unemployed, or to get away from a nasty boss. You had a vision for starting, building, and growing your business. Does that vision endure today?
Think about “higher” purpose. How does your business contribute to the greater good? I worked with a team of apartment building maintenance folks. I asked them what they did in their jobs. They said the typical functions, like fixing the plumbing and air conditioning, replacing door locks, cleaning up dog poop. I suggested to them that what they actually did was provide safety, comfort, and cleanliness to the residents. They saw their work in a new light. They made life better for others! Purpose gives people a sense of meaning and importance in their work. What is your organization’s purpose? Does it drive work and results? Find out.
Mission is another misunderstood concept. In strategic planning terms, a mission is about what you do or produce, who you produce it for, and how you deliver it. It’s about what you are NOW. Mission gives employees a clear sense of what the company does or produces and helps them understand their role in it. Do you have a mission statement for the business? Does it clarify employees’ roles and their part in what the company does?
Businessdictionary.com defines values as Important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values have a major influence on a person's behavior and attitude and serve as broad guidelines in all situations. Values like fairness, community, integrity, and honesty should guide all employees’ actions and decision making. What are your company’s values? I don’t mean the ones hanging on the wall (expressed values); rather, the values that are used in everyday behaviors and decisions (overt values). Are they the same? Remember, values are a primary driver of your culture. Is your current culture the one you hoped for when you started the business? If not, you’ve got some work to do.
By now, you see the importance of your Value Foundation. Take some to think through how effective your foundation is, and how well it’s aligned with the rest of your organization.
The author of this article – Jeff Fierstein – is founder and Principal of GOAL ACHIEVE!, TM where he helps small businesses plan and execute for tomorrow’s growth. Contact him at email@example.com. You can get a free download copy of this article at www.goalachieve.biz/blog
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