By Tom Shenk     (Fall 1992)

 

Can you imagine the challenge of aligning all people of an organization behind a common set of values? First, I suppose, it is appropriate to ask the greater question: How significant is the concept of shared values? Second, what specific shared value dimensions are important?

The challenge itself can appear immense from the point of view that our companies transcend at least 40 years of age difference. Recent graduates have different expectations than the corporate veteran. This doesn’t take into account our differing views of pluralism and diversity.

Is there a direct link to shared values and long-term profitability and viability? There has been enough research on the subject to suggest that a link exists. Certainly we could quantify a consequence analysis if the company’s leaders are not singing from the same sheet of music. So, how well aligned is your company? Here are just a few questions to trigger your thinking and hopefully your action.

  • How are decisions made, and how do you define autonomy, independence, and “freedom to act?”
  • How do you define quality, customer service, and what is meant by continuous improvement?
  • How do we deal with differing opinions and viewpoints?
  • What is meant by working hard and long to achieve results?
  • What is your approach to problem-solving? How much trial and error is acceptable?
  • Where does fun and light-heartedness start and stop?
  • Do we value teamwork? Really?

These are a few of the many questions that could be asked. If you’re unsure where to begin, start with the second question in the first paragraph. I personally value a healthy, broad-minded debate on the subject. How about you?

 

This work was taken from research completed by Paul McDonald, a senior lecturer in management at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and Jeffrey Gandz, a professor of business administration at the University of Western Ohio.