Honesty is not a Core Value, but it could certainly be part of a larger set of Universal Values. Innovation is not a Core Value, although it might be part of an Industry set of values where innovative thinking is critical to remain competitive. Divergent thinking is a core value because it inspires a particular kind of behavior that is guided by a foundational belief associated with solving problems.
When developing Core Values, create distinction from Universal or Industry Values by following these key considerations:
They should inspire behavior that will contribute to a culture that reflects what the organization aspires to be (Vision).
They should capture something about how the organization is different from its competitors.
Core Values are a commitment to principles that the organization must own and have the conviction and courage to live by.
- Meaningful. They need to be understood, believed and relevant to those who must live them out and ultimately contribute to a “better you.”
- Challenging. Core Values should stimulate curiosity and imagination.
- Genuine. They have to be something that is true to who and what the organization is.
- Actionable. They must be behavior-driven and clear enough that they can be acted upon, measured against and be a decision filter.
- Simple. Core Values need to be brief so that they can be understood and remembered — no more than four or five.
Empty values statements create cynical and dispirited employees, alienate customers, and undermine managerial credibility.¹