Change – Evolution or Disruption?

We need to differentiate between what is  ongoing Organization Evolution, triggered by changes in the market environment, buyer needs and behaviours, changes in Technology and Organization growth.  The Organization structure and management system needs to be capable of addressing such evolutionary change (No Change Management or Transformation Initiative required here). It is when we are seeking to make a quantum leap in order to overcome a sudden, discontinuous reality (or technology disruption as an example) that a strategic disruptive change Initiative, Organization-wide, becomes the need of the hour – and perhaps, the optimum vehicle for success.

Implementing Change in the context of the Organzational model…

I haven’t heard a more ludicrous proposition in a while. If change comes naturally to people why don’t we alternate right/left hands when we shake hands. Why don’t we swop feet to hit the gas or the brake pedals from time to time? Why don’t we walk backwards rather than walk forward all the time. Why don’t we get in and out of bed from totally different directions every night. This nonsensical diatribe can go on and on – but all it really does is establish that humans are hard-wired to practice perfection within a specific comfort zone and than resist (with their very life) the need to change to any other comfort zone (even if it is supposed to be better). I am not saying this predilection for a constant is right…but that’s just how we are.

******************************************************************

The Change Juggernaut marches on. Today our workplace is plagued with disappearing  low skilled jobs – thanks to the I/T revolution that is happening with Big Data and Analytics, Cognitive computing, Deep Learning systems, The Cloud and next generation Robotics (consider the dramatic breakthrus made by companies like Boston Dynamics). All facets of business and industry are being impacted, and it is only a matter of time when the last few bastions of human endeavor like education and medicine will also be threatened with job loss (as will white collar Mgt).  So we are right to want to resist these great upheavals, but it is inevitable. There are no simple answers…such as re-tool your skill set, or get a better education…this Change is Disruptive. Try as we may, there is no resisting this terrifying yet promising technology wave poised to inundate us all!

********************************************************************

We need to recognize that the reason Change Management initiatives do not work as well as we would like them to is because we often  attempt implementing a Change design point that is better suited to a stable, ‘Command & Control’ type structure rather than the more dynamic Organic structures of today..
The Organic Organizational model of today best represents the current need.

In their book ” The Management of Innovation,” Burns and Stalker point out that organic structures are appropriate in unstable, turbulent, unpredictable environments and for non-routine tasks and technologies.

Here are some of the conditions that best support an Organic Organizational model: Decentralization, Flexible, Broad job descriptions, Interdependence, Complex/ Multi-directional communication, Employee directed initiative, fewer and more broadly defined rules, Regulations, Procedures, and Processes, Employee  engagement/involvement  in problem solving and decision making.
You can see just how easy it is to falter in our Change endeavors, if we fail to recognize the context of the Organization model we are working within.

The Balanced Scorecard…does it have a place in today’s business model

A key point that is underscored in the Japanese TQM or Kaizen model of Change Management is the need to ensure that the Scorecard also measures Business and Financial results based on a Competitive Benchmarking approach.

Here is a rather simplified summary:
1. What is the Q: The quality of the competitor – what is their error rate and the percent of rework required before acceptable Quality is achieved.
2. What is the C: The Cost the competitor incurs to perform the same process
3. What is the D: Delivery time taken for ‘On Time and In Full’ delivery (OTIF index)

I have learned since, that any Balanced Scorecard that does not factor in the Benchmarking QCD factors above – is not worth the paper it is printed on.

******************************************************************

As I have always stated – most of the management ‘discoveries’ (Like the Balanced Scorecard) have already happened…we keep re-bottling them in new bottles. The Japanese TQM movements initiated after WW2 have several practices that foreshadowed the Balanced Scorecard. Consider the Hoshin Kanri or full policy deployment programs that basically looked at a process that would percolate the Organizations Vision, Mission and Strategy down to the middle management planning, and right down to the worker level implementation…with measurements and metrics as part of a PDCA loop. America had more than 70% of the world’s export market – but simply because the rest of Europe and the East were struggling to rebuild after the war. read up on  W Edwards Deming, Joseph M. Juran and many great Japanese TQM luminaries like Shigeo Shingo, Taiichi Ohno, Masaaki Imai, Kauro Ishikawa et al who led the charge for TQM. The rest is history.

********************************************************************

Regarding the Balanced scorecard, it is not new nor can it be simply dismissed as not applicable to our business environment. Drs. Kaplan and Norton were onto something way back in the early 90’s and their initial hypothesis stands today. The BSC is still widely deployed across top fortune 500 companies and finds a place in the management system of organizations in the NA, Europe, East and Far East to date.  It focuses on driving the 4 elements of Organizational learning and growth, Process, Customer and Financial performance – and developing Organization Objectives, Strategy, Measurements and  Initiatives thereof.

With the advent of Big Data and Analytics, it has the potential to become a much more powerful business management system that can render otherwise vast, complex tracts of indecipherable Information into business decision data.

When you really think about it, in business, any business…what gets measured gets done!

Groupthink…

Groupthink is an irrational desire for members in a group to seek conformity and cohesiveness with each other, to the degree of suppressing any dissenting views or opinions from other members. This desire for group cohesiveness  causes decisions to be ratified without any critical analysis/debate, so key to ensure decisions are critiqued and debated before they are approved.
I disagree with some who would suggest that Groupthink is caused by bad leadership? Groupthink is the result of a group of people who yearn to conform with the larger group’s thinking, even if it is detrimental to the group at large.

Read Irving Janis’s ‘Victims of Group Think.’

Here is a pithy quote from Janis that I rather like: “The more amiability and esprit de corps there is among the members of a policy-making in-group, the greater the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by Groupthink, which is likely to result in irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against out-groups.”

******************************************************************

In discussing Groupthink, some like to point towards a leader who is happy with all around agreement to his/her decisions, and generally accepting of silence as consensus. In actuality Groupthink is not about an individual exercising his/her will over the team, but more a team so cohesive and conformity driven that they view any form of dissent as dangerous to the team’s general ‘joie de vi·vre.’ A danger that is rapidly snuffed out – which means the team acts against the individual dissenters and closes ranks to effectively shut them out. The opposite of group think is more difficult to obtain – the willingness on the part of individuals to hold their ground and uphold their values, beliefs and critical opinions, regardless of the rest of the groups thinking. But such a stand is taken not just against the leader – but indeed against all of the team, to defend one’s opinion. Like the individual Juror’s dissent that can often cause a ‘Hung Jury.’

***********************************************************************

The most damaging outcome of groupthink is often the waste of time and resources that go into a team going into a retreat/closed-door meeting to thrash out some jugular corporate issues, only to come away with a sub-standard quality output as a result of groupthink.
If the team is so fortunate, they can rally their forces and rework the outcome, with a better result, if they recognize that their initial outcomes came out of groupthink’ing. The damage could be vastly more far-reaching if they remain ignorant of the groupthink driven outcomes and go ahead with their actions and decisions based on it.

The Innovation Domino Effect…

Does sheer growth in computational capability change the game – it surely does! No longer is it okay to stay out of the I/T sandbox…you blink and you are done. It’s that quick. So rather than depend solely on management systems like a Balanced Scorecard or Japanese style Hoshin Kanri (Full Policy Deployment), we need to become familiar with the concepts of Big Data & Analytics, Cognitive Computing, Deep Learning and Data Mining to add a fillip to our existing management systems. Moreover, we need to utilize these current I/T breakthrus in the building of Organization Strategy that will not only respond to what our customers need and want – but indeed to develop the Paradigm Shifting Innovation Domino effect (Copyright) – The Internet, as an example, triggered a massive chain reaction of innovations to service our growing needs, wants and expectations…some of which we could have never known if the Internet hadn’t happened.

*************************************************************************

What triggers innovation? Is it the early adopter who crave that which is not yet on a drawing board, let alone in a Product Development  & Testing stage? Is it the failure of existing products/services to meet our demands and expectations? Is it the arrival of a new technology or discovery that triggers a seismic shift in our needs and wants?

The Internet as an example triggered a massive chain reaction of innovations to service our growing needs, wants and expectations…some of which we could have never known if the Internet hadn’t happened.

I call this the ‘Innovation Domino Effect.’
Great organizations don’t wait for something external to provide the Innovation Domino Effect – they create it in house. Take Sony as an example – they went out and created the Discman before we’d even gotten used to the Walkman? The Walkman being the trigger for the Innovation Domino Effect in this example.

Then Apple came along and created the IPod and that little innovation triggered the seismic Innovation Domino Effect that was the smartphone wave…an effect we are still experiencing even today.

So it is becoming more numerous in our daily lives – this rapid transition from one innovation to the next and the attendant Domino Effects that follow almost as a de rigueur precondition.

Airbnb, Uber, Twitter, Facebook, Snap chat, YouTube and so on. All by-products from the Internet and the Domino Effect of Innovation that it triggered.

Organizations that are savvy and are reading the signs right should be thinking about restructuring so that Employees are trained to be:                                                                 Creative and Innovative, Push the envelope, Take risks  and recognize that there is no embarrassment in calling out an idea that may not work, and that the real embarrassment should lie in suppressing the idea and keeping it to oneself.

Work Life Balance…

So your boss has a habit of getting into the office at least an hour before business hours and works for at least an hour after closing time.
But you don’t care because you believe it is important to spend that time with your family.
Your boss requests that you provide input to a new deal that he is writing up a bid for, and which he needs it over the weekend. So you let him know firmly but politely that you need to retain your own sanity and that you are switching off for the weekend.
Most of this  is easier said than done. Our generation has only one, single minded pursuit…to retain our respective jobs regardless. It doesn’t matter what we say…we’ve been pretty much the same way ever since the 1800’s industrial revolution…in a relative sense of course.
So if you swallow everything above verbatim…you’d better have a great placement agency signed up!

*************************************************************************

The problem is that if your peers or your boss is in at the office an hour early and leaves an hour later at end of day…every single day…you are going to stick out like a sore thumb if you stick with your 9 – 5 routine.
If your boss asks you to take on projects over the weekend consistently and you choose to accept a project once every 6 months, that isn’t going to help your case either. I think we need to stay real and grounded when we use ‘management speak’ in the style of this article…some things are truly written as ‘feel-good’ arguments that seek to get us thinking in one way…whereas the reality is focused on an entirely different compass point altogether!

**************************************************************************

It seems that we are reluctant to embrace the change happening all around us and try instead, to cling on to the past management aphorisms and ‘sound-bites’, without factoring in today’s environment. Work/Life balance needs to be seen in the current context. Today we are all connected through multiple devices and technology to our workplace as well as home, and the lines of distinction between what used to be strictly off limits (home) are now merged into a seamless connection to the workplace. We no longer need a computer to stay connected thanks to smartphone technology. We do not need to be at the office thanks to mobile solutions and applications. We no longer need to be at home to welcome the kids back from school because we can monitor our homes (video/audio) remotely.
We need to recognize that today’s technology does indeed allow us to do much more…and the competition forces to keep running forward, just to stay in the same place!

************************************************************************

I am loathe to digress into someone’s personal theories and motivations around how we should address the issue of work/life balance. Nor am I a believer that we can somehow miraculously transcend from the present context of hard scrabble existence we are forced to deal with daily into some utopia where the negative elements of work/life balance are obviated or minimized at worst.
Learning, unlearning and relearning is the only option we have today (Thank you Mr. Toffler). Lets not be buried under wishful thinking and esoteric, idealistic, ‘feel – good’ homilies.
Technology (yes that is a solution) can be both a blessing and a curse at once – it can help us spend more time at home with mobility solutions, but it can also enforce more of ‘Big Brother Is Watching You,’ environment in the process. The ‘Bricks and mortar’ workplace is rapidly vanishing, to be relentlessly replaced by virtual work environments – that are mostly mobile or work at home spaces. get used to it!

On Stress Management

Stress needs to be considered from several perspectives and is generally manifested through Physiological, Psychological and Behavioral responses.

I find it hard to fathom why with all the research an development we have seen in the major fields of behavioral sciences, we still seem to lack a formal definition for Organizational stress – nor is there any source I have been able to locate, where there is any body of work around the subject of stress, definitions, and management thereof.
(But I could be looking in the wrong place for sure)

Given that background and extremely limited ‘text book’ knowledge of the subject, here is what I have observed over the past several years, both through my colleagues and peers, as well as several Leaders I have had the good fortune to work with:
Stress is usually a by-product of misalignment of one’s work environment and values, with one’s home environment and values, as well as with the individual’s personal compass (True North) versus where the organization compass is driving towards.

It would be inaccurate to simply state that Leaders do not feel stress – or that Leaders feel more stress than others. It is relative to the individual at all times, and the factors above will impact everyone in much the same way – when such misalignments are allowed to take root and become the root cause for stress and other related issues.

I have found that some individuals are able to develop a ‘system’ to deal with the stress factors. Meditation, Yoga, adopting a pet, volunteering with various social service organizations, taking up a new hobby like a musical instrument are the some of the ‘remedies’ that come to mind. Others may take up physical fitness programs, enroll with Gyms, train for a Marathon, enroll for a new sport like kick-boxing or group fitness activities like Pilates, etc.
A newfound appreciation for religion and spirituality is another key approach that I have observed in individuals who are looking for proactive means to avoid and manage stress.

I cannot tell (yet?)which of the above works least or best – sufficeth to say that these individuals seem to enjoy a better, more balanced outlook to life in general, appear to be more calm and at peace with themselves…and usually better aligned with their internal sense of ‘True North.’
It has been my life’s struggle to try and learn and implement these ‘good practices’ from my friends and colleagues – I believe it is a journey of a thousand miles….and I am still faltering at the first few steps…

******************************************

The thing is that stress is universal, impacts everyone in a relative sense, regardless of rank or position in an Organization, and most importantly, is as destructive to individuals as it can be to teams and leadership as well.
The thing to note is that stress or the lack thereof can be directly traced back to our work environments, the nature of the jobs we perform and how much of a sense of satisfaction do we realize at the end of the task, shift or project in a manner of speaking. The satisfaction and sense of contribution that comes from a job well done and well recognized is like an endorphin rush after a particularly strenuous work-out or prolonged physical activity. Almost like an adrenaline shot. In this sort of situation, it is conceivable that we feel less stress than we would, if at the end of the task, shift, or project all we felt was a sense of utter frustration and despair, at a task that was ill conceived and poorly executed. Add to that any form of management or supervisor criticism or displeasure at the way the task was executed and you have the makings of a super ‘Stress’ migraine!

Thee things to remember

1. No job, or task or project is personal – nor is it going to be around for a lifetime – everything is transitory – I always remind myself “this too shall pass.”

2. The only thing you have control over is that which is within your own circle of influence. Stephen Covey talks about two concentric circles – the larger outer circle being the circle of concern and the smaller circle in the center being the circle of influence. We typically tend to focus on the circle of concern – all the things that we have no control over that could potentially go wrong…and in so doing we keep expanding the circle of concern and squashing the circle of influence – until it becomes insignificant…a little dot.
Instead we need to ask ourselves what we can control, and then go about exerting our best efforts in working in the areas that we can control and influence positively – this is a sure-fire way to stay positive, focused and always be a strong contributor.

3. We have the power of choice always…whether we want to stay on the current job or if we want to seek other opportunities, if we want to take the challenges and stress of the current role or do we want to change direction and careers…if we think we are getting a fair shake…or not. In every case, we have the power of choice…of making an informed decision with full knowledge and awareness of what we are getting into…and the innate human capability of taking accountability for our own actions. The sooner we recognize this, the sooner we rid ourselves of needless stress and ‘circle of concern’ behaviour.

**********************************************

I find it somewhat confusing – this belief that Leaders have some sort of innate responsibility for taking us by the hand and leading us to the promised land, stress-free and worry free?

My take is that everyone experiences stress that is as relevant, impactful and debilitating as does the Leader…and that we are all equipped with the same basic coping skills (as the Leader) to address this issue, as we would any other task that comes with the territory: Communication, Decision making, Problem solving, Teaming, and the list goes on and on (albeit, some may be better equipped as others in this situation)

I am afraid that we have become more of a responsibility-shedding, ‘entitlement oriented’ society that believes everything can be ‘blamed’ on someone else – or delegated to someone else to deal with, rather than recognizing that we need to take on ownership and accountability of managing our own issues/stresses without dependency others.

The sooner we recognize that we are the architects of our own future and well being, the sooner do we take the first steps towards understanding what causes our stress, and how best to deal with it. There is nothing wrong with learning from our peers, colleagues and leaders, how they go about addressing stress, as long as we do not entirely rely on their successes to heal ourselves.

Here are some of the well known factors to consider in developing a stress management plan:
Exercise, a balanced diet and adequate sleep.

Exercising personal discipline over addictive , debilitating habits (like alcohol, tobacco, other habit forming drugs)

Alignment of our professional value system with our deeper family and spiritual values is a significant aid in finding our own true north

Understanding what we have control over and applying ourselves to working within our ‘circle of influence’ and dealing with what we can (Thank you Dr. Stephen Covey) and eschewing the distractions that drag us down into the ‘Circle of Concern’ (ditto Dr. Covey) and typically cause us to stress.

In conclusion, it is absolutely fair game to look up to our leadership and learn from their example, how we may learn to manage stress ourselves.

What I do not agree with is the belief that Leaders are required to perform some sort of ‘show and tell’ on how we are to deal with stress…and that perhaps they can wave a wave a magic wand and make it all go away…

Managing a multicultural team…some key qualities required…

The ability to embrace change.

Managing and leading multicultural teams is fraught with chasing constantly moving targets and watching the objectives that you thought were within your reach, suddenly fade into the distance as one change or other slams into you and your team.

If you treat the introduction of a Multicultural team into the environment as a significant Organizational change in and by itself, you will be well served to remind yourself of the 5 stages of dealing with loss and grief. We all experience very similar sensations when trying to cope with extended change that causes a broad and deep impact to all involved:

1. Denial: When we first begin to hear about the change or feel it’s effects for the first time, there is a tendency to deny that it is occurring. This is a normal defense mechanism to help us buffer the shock.

2. Anger: As the buffering effects of the denial begins to dissipate, we begin to once again sense the reality of what is happening and this brings back the pain. The intense emotions we feel begin to get redirected and expressed as anger.

3. Negotiation: A normal reaction to a sense of helplessness or loss of control causes us to start thinking about what we should have done, or could have done, or perhaps what we could have prayed for, etc.This is the normal negotiation phase that we all go through when dealing with change – we resort to trying to negotiate or bargain our way back to a time when the change had not yet occurred.

4. Depression: This is the sense of abject loss and willingness to go on. This comes out of the failure of our bargaining and/or negotiation attempts in step 3 above.

5. Acceptance: This is the ultimate phase, when we begin to realize that all our efforts notwithstanding, in stages 1 through 4, did not, and will not bring back the world as we knew it before the change had occurred. we tend to become withdrawn, though calm, and we each transition through this phase as a deeply personal experience. Everybody experiences this stage in a unique and personal context.

So as a Manager/Leader of a multicultural team, try to envisage what is going through every team member’s mind – as they personally grapple with the 5 stages listed above.

This will help you work through the changes with better insight and understanding of what your team is experiencing.

******************************************************************

Now for some reverse psychology …we have all shared thoughts that are mostly supportive and encouraging…even self-deprecatory when it comes to (some of ) the most important qualities we may need to develop to manage Multicultural Teams (MC teams)

So what about some of the more difficult qualities we may need to develop (while dealing/managing MC teams) to ensure we are preventing:
Missed commitments
Failure to deliver to expectations
Lack of ownership and accountability

Here are my top three focus areas:

1. Develop and document a clear and transparent process that defines the Rules of Engagement, Roles and Responsibilities, Processes that will need to be taken over by the MC team, Timeframes to become 100% self reliant, Reporting procedures and checks and balances (not a comprehensive list but you get the idea).

Consider:
a. What is the ‘early warning’ system to use to communicate something getting off the rails
b. What is the escalation process
c. Who are the key contacts and their accountabilities (the singe throat to choke)
d. Reports (what, when, why, by whom, and frequency)
e. Emergency updates and support request procedures

2. Develop /implement a document of agreement (DOU) that clearly defines, goals, objectives, roles and responsibilities, penalties and recognition and rewards (again not a comprehensive list but you get the idea)

The DOU is a great place to start in ensuring that we are clear about what our expectations are from the MC team and that they are also clear about what they are required to deliver as a part of the DOU. This is where you clarify exactly how the roles and responsibilities are to be transferred to the MC team and by when you expect them to become 100% self reliant and accountable.

3. Feedback process:
Agree on the process and frequency for providing the MC team with developmental feedback (the frequency may need to be more early in the DOU cycle, and could possibly taper off as the MC team gains maturity).
Timely feedback is key to ensuring that transition/transformation losses are minimized, and that we have fewer implementation hiccups in the initial phase.

Feedback needs to be accurate and based on the reality as evidenced by factual data that you are able to draw on. Recognize Cultural Norms during the feedback process – there may be special considerations based on language, how seniority is respected, hierarchical expectations, etc within the MC teams structure.
Be sensitive and considerate in the process of providing feedback but keep it honest and fact based always. You want to ‘tell it like it’ is while maintaining decorum and professional courtesy at all times.

*********************************************************************

The thing about ‘Culture’ is that we mostly distil it down to the way one looks, the shape of the eyes, the colour of the skin and any external behaviours, especially w.r.t to religion and social mores, that we observe in others. We need to view the world from a ‘global village’ perspective more and more. The freshly minted graduate in that village in Nairobi watches the same YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc Social media outlets that the kid in the U.S does…so like or not, there is cultural exchange happening, both ways, that will leave indelible marks on both – the kid in the U.S and the Graduate in Nairobi. Organizations who jealously guard ‘Holy Cows’ representing “that’s how we do it here,” need to sacrifice them in the name of breaking out of the box of habit. They need to embrace the Tsunami of Change that is hitting us all. We deal in an “outsourced” business environment where time needs to shift so that a 10 hour difference between India and the U.S is rapidly becoming a non-issue, as teams in India swop day for night. Managers and Leaders across the great divide need to become familiar with holidays and festivals in the geographies they receive services from. Language and communications need to adjust to the new environments we create…all of which require a dynamic, ever-evolving Organization culture. Not one that is cast in stone If it was China or Brazil yesterday, it may be Russia or India tomorrow…so holding fast to “the way we’ve done it all these years” will not hack it. Culture is all about being able to say: “I think I understand your point of view…I think you understand my point of view…and if we disagree, thank God for that. Because if we both nod heads to everything….one of us is redundant.

What is Organization Culture?

In the societal context, Culture may be defined as the mortar that holds a Civilization’s Foundation together.

In the organizational context, Culture is better expressed as the core Values, Beliefs and Norms that the organization has embraced and strives to live by.

in ether example above, Culture is the bond, the glue that holds the rest of the environment together.
In a societal context, we are constantly reminded of how our culture dictates our values, belief and the norms that we live by. The rituals we embrace in worship, the age old processes we follow in traditional cooking methods, how we choose our spouses in marriage, and indeed in the clothes we wear, the books we read and even to the music we choose to listen to and enjoy. All are facets of Culture as we know it.

At the organization level, Culture manifests itself in the hiring behaviours we employ, in our position toward Diversity, how we support (or negate) the LGBT community, our stance on the Environment, what we worship as ‘Holy Cows’ never to be touched or changed, and in the overall Values that we look up to and strive to live up to always.

Culture is the ever present veneer that we are almost able to identify with at the  sensory and less physical emotional level. We immediately sense when we are in the presence of a cultural ritual or process that has the ability to silently and unequivocally shape how we behave in the given context…without the need for a word or a command to be issued (do you find yourself whispering in certain environments, and conversely…shouting and screaming and laughing in others…all simple examples of how this thin veneer of culture has the power to shape our very behaviours). No small wonder than, that some of the greatest organizations we have come to know, all have unique, and identifiable Cultural markers…that play a significant part in that organization’s overall profile and Brand.

The Top Three Corporate values that come to mind include…

This topic could quite easily deteriorate into a minefield of confusion and doubt.
What are Corporate Values? Can they be a single value or need their be more than one Value? What is the difference because we are always talking about Corporate Citizenship, Vision, Mission, Goals & Objectives, Social and Global responsibility,  etc, etc?

My personal Top Corporate Value has always been Integrity in Leadership…and here are a few thoughts that may support why I think that way:

First of all…Corporate Values can only flow from one source and one source alone…the Leader or the Leadership. I heartily disagree with some of my peers and colleagues who have commented that Corporate Values need to be ‘from the people’ and not just driven down by leadership. In this instance, Corporate Values are always driven from the Leader’s personal value system…that personal compass that points them always and consistently towards the true north.
Therefore the Values are not something that organizations can somehow percolate upwards from rank and file (and I say that most respectfully, archaic as that may sound). Corporate Values cannot be a brainstormed list from the Team that is then blessed by Leadership and adopted as the Organization’s values.
They are almost always the value system that the Leader has adopted, nurtured and defended fiercely –  over a lifetime.

Consider this:
If leadership permits the procurement of competitive information through unethical means,  to strengthen a bid, that behaviour would soon become standard practice in the Organization.

If Leadership encourages irresponsible, unethical behaviours to flourish unchallenged within the Organization, those behaviours soon become the norm (Sexual harassment, nepotism, lack of diversity in hiring, etc).

If Leadership behaves in a manner that is clearly disregardful (my own word ) or non supportive of current and contemporary Corporate, Global, Social mores (think Diversity, Ecology and protection of the Environment, Unethical cross-border business practices during Outsourcng transactions) those behaviours soon become adopted by the organization at large.

So we can see from just the few examples above, that there is a direct correlation between how the Leader behaves and acts, with the general behaviours of the organization at large.

The Leader’s role in the Formation and ‘Operationalization’ of Corporate Values, is much like that of a parent. Parents have always been the greatest role model for their children. Children tend to remember their parents instructions and guidance over their lifetimes…and also strive to mimic their parents behaviours as far as possible (both the good behaviour and the not so good behaviours as well…unfortunately).
Corporate values therefore need almost always flow down from the top…and they are generally ‘Black and White’ with a very little gray area that is open to discussion. The Organization’s behaviours…Corporate, Global or Social…is a consistent reflection of what the Leadership behaviours are…and that’s just the way it ought to be.

**********************************************************************

Is there really any debate here???
An Organization’s greatest single Corporate Value needs to be it’s People…nothing less will suffice!

What do all (let’s say Fortune 500 Companies) as an example, have in common?
They all have volumes of documentation around their Corporate Values, Corporate Citizenship commitments, Vision, Mission and Business Goals & Objectives.

If you were to analyze these companies from an HR perspective, I guarantee you would find year upon year of so called ‘Rightsizing, Downsizing, Strategic outsourcing and Strategic Cost Reduction measures’ – all of which directly impact (in the most horrible and personal way) their greatest value – their people?

So what is wrong with this picture? Here we are waxing eloquent on the subject of what we believe to be the greatest Corporate Values for Organizations to embrace and commit to…when we know that they continue to execute the harshest and often time truly life-crippling HR actions on their greatest Value – their People?

I believe that until Organizations truly recognize that there is really no corporate success to be built on the broken promises, shattered dreams and utterly unfair severance packages that they dish out to the hapless workforce they are removing from their business plan, there can be no talk of Corporate Values. Anything they to the effect say is just ‘lip service.’

I can understand how the upper echelons of management view workforce reductions to be the surest way to demonstrate improved bottom line (with immediate effect). However I can no longer sit on the fence and pretend that an Organization truly mean what they say when they espouse their Values from the pulpit of maniacally controlled press, social media and other communication options that they share with their Shareholders, Board of Directors and general public at large.

So I repeat – I believe there can only be one single value for any organization today…and that is to Value, Respect and Care for It’s People…the rest will take care of itself thereafter!

***********************************************************************

In the final analysis I would suggest that any Corporate values that are cast in stone edifices over the Corporate Boardroom, or emblazoned across the gates to the Corp. H/Q, or indeed enjoying pride of place on the Corp. Web site should be utterly and roundly ignored. They are Not!

You see, the only real Corporate value that makes any sense at all is how the community that the Corporation serves, ‘Values’ the Corporation. In other words,The Corporation may say that Fair Trade Practice is  ‘Core Value’, while seemingly engaged in  protracted unfair trade practice litigations with other organizations or countries?
The Corporation may say that Respect and protection of the environment is a ‘Core Value’, while turning a blind eye to environmentally ‘harmful  business partner operations in countries that do not enforce such regulations?

The only values that we ought to look for and hold Corporations to are those that we can see, feel and touch in terms of being able to verify for ourselves that the Corporation truly embodies such values.
The amazing thing is that we  can easily discern the Corporate Values that some Corporations truly embody…and we don’t need to look at those stone edifices and banner web site declarations to tell us…we just know!

*********************************************************************

1. Integrity and Honesty in word, deed and actions

2. The ability to influence change that achieves two key objectives:
a. Helps the Corporation to grow
b. Helps the Community in which the Corporation operates and serves – to grow

3. Provide security, growth and fair compensation to it’s employees in the context of the prevailing market conditions
(we should no longer expect lifetime employment, however the decisions that the Corporation takes to reduce the workforce need to be fair, justifiable and always predicated upon the need to retain high skill/value employees who are critical to the business)

************************************************************************

The Most Important Corporate value has to be the innate quality that a Corporation has that allows it to occupy a specific share of the Hearts and Minds of the community within which it operates, for values that the community can attest to, without the need for Corporation funded media, advertising, pompous self aggrandizement and suchlike…only then can the Corporation say it has truly operationalized it’s Core Values!

**************************************************************************

If I had to name one single Corporate Value it would have to be Integrity.

I believe a brief definition of both Honesty and Integrity is in order, since we often time confuse the both, while both words retain fairly unique connotations – here is an extract from Wikipedia on Honesty//Integrity:

“To summarize (and simplify a bit): honesty is about what you say; integrity is about what you do.”

Therefore is behooves an Organization to always and consistently act with Integrity in all that it does.