Almost every organization has a statement of values. And this is often that they are a source of cynicism rather than vitality. That’s the result when we perceive a disconnect between the established values and what the reality says.
Values are what the team really cares about
The question is, how are these values lived out daily? Many organizations seem to have a similar set of values, e.g. "agility", "integrity", "equality of opportunity", "commitment to quality", etc. etc. What does it look like at your organization? In what unique ways is agility showed in action everyday? To mean something to people, one way is to bring these values to life in a story...
Stories that people in organizations tell do not exist in isolation
They are always part of a bigger, shared story. And, as a leader, this is one of your role to shape and define what that bigger story is. Let me explain further through the following storytelling process:
Say that you want to instill a culture in which the shared values of your organization define how people will do the work. Take the following steps:
With your team, write 4 of the company values in quadrants on a flip chart,
Have one person tell a story about one value,
As a team, give each story a title on a post-it note, and place each post-it note in its corresponding quadrant,
Repeat that process with the different team members and for all the values.
At the end of this storytelling process, what you should get is a certain number of stories about the 4 values you chose.
Shared value stories as a key differentiator for your business
The important point here is that all these individual stories are like chapters in the bigger story that you are all living together: the story of your organization’s values in action.
Now, by sharing these stories about values, you are passing on the key message that your values are important, they define who you are, and that you are intentional representatives of the organization’s values so they are true differentiators for your business.
By creating a purposeful occasion to come together to uncover and tell these stories, you just produce urgency, vitality, and life to the bigger story of your organization as a values-driven system.
In a very real sense, you just give shape to the identity of the organization and people say "these are our values and we stand by them!".
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