This morning I held a Zoom workshop on the topic of identifying values, goals and vision for start-up companies. Normally, this sort of workshop is held face to face in a large forum, including round tables, division into task groups, debates and distillment of the results. At the end of the process, the idea is to reach the desired destination; values.
Those three words – values, mission and vision – appear in every single leadership and management book, in every lecture given by talented CEOs or successful entrepreneurs.
They're already big and successful, and you're still a small start-up. So, what's the crucial, game-changing ingredient still missing from your approach?
In my business meetings and lectures to accelerators, I'm often asked why start-up companies who work according to weekly work-plans (which also change quite often) need to think about and define the company's values.
Many founders, particularly in the last generation, tend to adopt a short-term vision, based on the here and now, and forget to delve deeper into the details and consider the long-term effects. For example, adopting product features which suit initial efforts, but which may not suit a much broader common denominator. Reality, however, is much different and more complex.
An organization of any size which works without values is comparable to a pilot flying without a navigational system. Values are what help the organization's leaders to identify the long-term targets, while outlining joint values creates a sense of connection and dedication to the objective among the employees. This is as important in a company with 100 employees as it is in one with only 5.
FOUNDING ENTREPRENEUR'S VALUES
Entrepreneurs understand the significance of values and that without them the company would be operated rather than managed. This will be a company which reacts to situations rather than guiding them. The entrepreneur's values are home-grown, inherent and difficult to change as one ages.
Startup values, particularly in the initial stages, are a consequence of the entrepreneur's personal compass, and soft skills. "Brain power is, of course, a necessary condition of leadership, but it's not enough, and there is no doubt that the world would be a better place if people had values", as Mendel put it in an interview to The Marker מה חשוב יותר למנהיג: שכל או ערכים (Hebrew)
THE THREE STEPS TO DEFINING ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES:
The purpose of my initial meeting with a founder is to learn and familiarize myself with their personal story- their DNA. Which are the values they bring from home? What were the most significant events and experiences, successes and failures in their lives?
All of these carry weight in an organization's ethical management. The results make it easier to understand the entrepreneur, their thinking and of course, their values. Generally, following this sort of meeting, it's possible to reach 5-8 values.
During the second meeting, only the lead team participate, without the entrepreneur present. The goal is to learn the employee's perception of the values without any concern over deviation as a result of the entrepreneur/founder's presence. Experience has taught me that for the most part, complete congruence does not exist between the values of the lead team and those of the entrepreneur. At this sort of meeting it is possible to reach a total of up to 6 values.
Following these two meetings, a third is held in order to reach the organization's most significant values. The sum of all the values are funnelled and distilled in order to reach agreement on no more than five or six values. This is the first step towards consolidating the organizational values.
WHERE DO THE ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES HAVE AN EFFECT?
Behavioural patterns within the organization and beyond.
Internal and external branding, messages, graphic language, the inspirational board, the logo and tag line – all of these together create a corporate identity (internal and external brand assurance) and, as a result, characterization of the media language.
BERYL-DAVIS LTD. – THE INFLUENCE OF ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES ON BEHAVIORAL PATTERNS, BRANDING AND GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
The company has deep British roots, was founded in the UK and after a number of years transferred operations to Israel. The company has three partners, two British and one Israeli. It was important to them to maintain the British values and motifs as an impetus to global business perception.
An initial step involved a careful process of drafting values combining two "world views", both British and those representing the Israeli CEO, in the company's manner of decision making and in employer-employee and client-supplier behavioural patterns. To the outside or in-house observer this is a respectful, polite way in which all partners and employees function, in a manner which is focused, respectful and service-oriented.
At the end of a long process, we reached four clear-cut, well-honed values:
personal compatibility, uncompromising excellence, innovation and service-orientation.