Types of Values by Francis Miller
are a bit like gravity, invisible to the eye but exerting a powerful
influence. Values identify what's important to a business,
both with regard to goals and how it operates, and they will have
an impact on the thoughts and activities of you and your staff.
tends to be a great deal of confusion about values so I have tried
to provide in this newsletter a simple but effective approach
to identifying them and using them to make your business more
are short descriptions (they can range from one or two words through
to a sentence) that either describe what is important about your
objectives or describe the principles which lie behind a business's
actual and desired behavior.
reason that people get confused about values is that they don't
realise that there are actually three different categories of
values in business. These categories are:
- instrumental values
- ethical values
also important to realise that there is a crucial distinction
between espoused values and values that are actually acted upon.
Everyone has come across businesses that have great sounding values
that aren't put into practice. Doing this means that your employees,
customers and suppliers will just get cynical about your business.
you will find a description of each of the different categories
and some questions you can ask to identify your values.
state values describe what is important to you about what you
want to achieve and therefore can have a fundamental effect on
the business's goals. You will have implicitly identified many
of them when working on your vision and mission. However looking
at them explicitly and what they mean in practice has the benefit
checking whether you've missed out any values that may need to
be incorporated into your vision and mission.
checking whether there is any conflict between what you regard
as important and the results that your vision is intended to deliver.
For example, if wealth is an important value for you but your
vision isn't going to deliver that, then you may need to rethink
giving you the chance to examine your values more deeply. By asking
of each one, 'why is this value important to me?', you will discover
more about your motivation and possibly discover that some aren't
as important to you as you believed.
of end-state values might include wealth, growth, enjoyment, social
contribution, environmental protection and product/service quality.
What these values mean in practice will vary from person to person.
what is important to me about what I want to achieve?
what do these values mean in practice? How will I know I have
why are each of my values important to me?
is there any conflict between my values and my vision and mission?
instrumental values describe key principles which need to become
integral to the business's operations if it is to succeed. Examples
- using state-of-the-art technology
- job satisfaction
- environmental protection (this can be as much a instrumental
value as an end-state value)
- being customer-centred
them as instrumental values means that:
you have singled them out as being important to the development
of your business
- you are committing yourself to putting them into practice
- you want them to become part of the business's culture and so
part of all staff decision-making
you have identified your instrumental values, you need to decide
how to communicate them and how they can be operationalised so
that they are not just words.
example, if you have identified creativity as an important value,
you will have to decide how it can be put into practice. This
could involve issues such as:
how to get staff to become more creative
- whether you need to start employing different types of people
- whether you need to alter incentive policies to reward staff
for being more creative
you have previously identified some instrumental values, it can
be very useful to assess how much they have already been incorporated
into your business's operations.
can also be revealing to look at how people behave within the
business and find out what values are implicit in what they do
or what they don't do. For example, if you've not developed any
new products, services or new ways of operating your business
for a while, innovation can't be said to be one of your actual
values however much it may be an espoused value.
what values need to become key to the business if it is to succeed?
what needs to be done to put these values into practice?
how well have your existing instrumental values been incorporated
into how the business operates?
what values are implicit within the activities and behaviour of
your staff and are these helpful to the business?
few years ago, some people would have dismissed ethical values
as a luxury. However the demise of Enron and Arthur Andersen has
shown that an ethical deficit can be just as devastating as serious
cash flow problems. Therefore it's vital that a business is crystal
clear about what its ethical values are.
values describe what you believe is the right way for people in
your business to behave. Honesty and integrity are two common
with instrumental values, it is important to ensure that ethical
values are not just espoused but become central to your business's
culture and that everyone is clear about what these values mean
can also be useful to check whether there are any existing ethical
problems in the business at the moment.
what are the ethical values that should be central in all your
are there any areas in the business where people aren't upholding
these values at the moment?
are people clear about what these values mean in practice?
You cannot get away from values. Even if you don't know what
your business's values are, they will still be operating in the
background with positive or negative effects. By identifying them
you can begin to take more control.
your values is just a small part of your internal business plan.
For a comprehensive guide to writing your plan, purchase the Internal
Business Plan Manual