The Importance of Core Values

Identify your organization’s core values.

Is this just one of the boxes on the business start-up checklist installed in the entrepreneur’s thoughts by well-meaning friends, professors or small business development office folk?  Or is it a vital step in developing a thriving organization?

DeathtoStock_Desk2All entrepreneurs – take a note from the name of the task. Core values are the center, or core of the organization. Too many entrepreneurs skip the process of intentionally developing these concepts that anchor their new organization.  After all, the reasonable founder has a good internal sense of values. It is tempting to put off the task until the commotion of startup activities settles down a bit.

Dont’ do it! Before the entrepreneur takes on board members, writes a mission statement or even begins to develop programs, he or she must take a moment to ponder these values in order to have a depth of focus on which to build all else.  So what are core values, and how should they be exhibited within the organization?

Identify your core values

There are three tests to determine whether the values you are considering can be elevated to the stature of the core value.  The value transcends time.  Will this value be just as important 100 years from now? The value transcends the organization. If you leave your organization and found another, will this value still be important and relevant to you?  The value transcends economic considerations. If someone offers you a large amount of money to betray this value, will you refuse the offer in favor of this value?

Define your core values

IMG_0383Once you have identified your core values, be sure to define them and consider the behaviors that members of your organization should have as a result of that value.  For example, at Humanitarian Social Innovations our first core value is respect.  We have defined respect as “Having a high esteem for the worth of each person’s qualities and abilities, no matter how like or different we perceive them from our own.” Two behaviors that stem from this core value are consistently assuming positive intent from others, and always thanking when assistance is given.

Use your core values

So get to it!  Roll up your sleeves and write those core values, entrepreneur!  Or maybe you just want to look up those old core values and test them out to see how core they really are to your organization.

Once you do, you are ready to build your programs, your culture, your staff, your board on the core values you have identified.