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Strategic Planning: What Are Your Organizational Values?

More and more companies are articulating the core beliefs and values underlying their business activities. Strong values account for why some companies gain a reputation for such strategic traits as leadership, product innovation, dedication to superior craftsmanship, being a good company to work for, and total customer satisfaction.

Values are enduring, passionate, and distinctive core beliefs. They’re guiding principles that never change. Values are why you do what you do and what you stand for. Values are deeply held convictions, priorities, and underlying assumptions that influence your attitudes and behaviors. They have intrinsic value and importance to those inside the organization. Your core values are part of your strategic foundation.

Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, speaks about core values: “We always felt that people should be treated right as a matter of morality. Then, incidentally, that turned out to be good business, too. But it didn’t really start as a strategy. It began with us thinking about what is the right thing to do in a business context. We said we want to really take care of these people, we want to honor them, and we love them as individuals. Now that induces the kind of reciprocal trust and diligent effort that made us successful. But the motivation wasn’t strategy, it was core values.”

A company’s values can dominate the kind of strategic moves it considers or rejects. When values and beliefs are deeply ingrained and widely shared by managers and employees, they become a way of life within the company, and they mold company strategy. They’re also called guiding principles. Either way, focusing on these values or principles will help you create a sustainable company.

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