Corporate values and vision

Posted on 12 Ιουνίου , 2006


It has been concluded that people within an organization share common values however, most of the time this is done unconsciously. Core values can be the strong belief in “cooperation and trust within the organization”, the desire for “hard work and continuous self-improvement”, the “focus on innovation” or the “results orientation”. Each company can define more than one but certainly less than six core values.  Surprisingly, usually people who stay in a company are people who are compatible with the company’s core values. This fact certainly increases the power of values since it results in a very coherent organizational environment.

Corporate values as Collins and Porras  define them, are therefore,  “a small set of timeless guiding principles” providing “the glue that holds an organization together through time”.

Detert  argues that values have to do with the belief in the power of coordinated action. This means that according to him, employees acknowledge that joining forces can lead to success and this belief is so powerful that it can make individuals willing to sacrifice some autonomy for the sake of organization-wide goals, because doing so will lead to superior outcomes. 

Organizational researchers  note also that top management constitutes an important and sometimes defining source of cultural values. According to Hofstede et al.  “the values of founders and key leaders undoubtedly shape organizational cultures… Founders’ and leaders’ values become members’ practices”.

It seems that core values stand not only the test of time but this of space as well and are able to bind together even dispersed branches of the same organization: Collins and Porras  note that “even global organizations composed of people from widely diverse cultures can identify a set of shared core values”.

From the above it is clear that corporate values are extremely helpful in the implementation of change, particularly when among them there are beliefs in “the need for hard work and continuous self-improvement” which are aligned with the goal and big effort change implies. Their existence connects all parts together and makes the mechanism work in the desired way.

Corporate vision is another important factor enabling change implementation. According to Kotter , vision is a “picture of the future”; it clarifies the direction in which an organization needs to move. The existence of corporate vision is tightly connected with the success of change efforts. As previously mentioned, change has to do with the goals an organization wants to achieve and therefore, the need for change comes after the definition of corporate vision.

The vision needs to be clear and make sense to the employees. As Kotter argues “without a sensible vision, a transformation effort can easily dissolve into a list of confusing and incompatible projects that can take the organization in the wrong direction or nowhere at all ”. It is important therefore, that people are clear about the direction the company is going and the reasons it has to do that. The existence of corporate values that are in accordance with the vision will hold people together and stimulate them to work for the achievement of the specific goals.

However, defining the vision is not enough; communicating the vision efficiently is equally crucial for change initiatives to succeed. Once the message is transmitted, it is important that the need for change and the steps to reach it are repeated in every occasion. People won’t pay attention to something which is not stressed out adequately and which doesn’t become a “way of living and thinking” within the organization. Needless to say, it is the leader’s job to make sure that people don’t loose focus.

Communication however, is not something done only by words, the leader’s behavior transmits a loud message and thus, words should be consistent with actions. Subordinates will pay attention to any deviation and this will undermine the success of change since “opposition” forces will grasp the opportunity to attract followers.

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