Values: Fixed or flexible?
Co-authored by Lauren Purnell and Brook Calverley
Brand values. Often referred to as the​‘True North’ of an organisation, brand values have long been thought of as the core pillars or principles that, even in times of change and transformation, remain fixed and steady to help guide decision-making both inside and outside the business.
But is this really true? Are brand values truly the unmoving, unchanging cement of an organisation from which everything and anything else must orbit… and should they be?
Realistically, probably not.
Today, life seems to change faster than we can tweet about it, and businesses of all kinds are having to respond and adapt accordingly. So whilst it’s undoubtedly important to have something steady from which to seek guidance and ensure some sense of familiarity and continuity, it’s equally important to allow yourself to reflect on the role values are playing within your business, and to assess whether they’re flexible enough to remain current and relevant to the challenges and opportunities you face.
For starters, by simply moving away from generic or passive personal traits that do little to drive differentiation, inspire action, or serve as any real guidance on how to behave, to redefining values in a way that provides a more active tool for shaping behaviours, ways of working and thinking within the business, you can already make moves towards ensuring your values serve a more powerful purpose.
For example, instead of simply valuing​ ‘Integrity’, you might say​‘ Always do what’s right’, or rather than valuing​‘ Collaboration’, you might say​ ‘Work together to make an impact’.
In this sense, you’re not just answering​ ‘what do we stand for’ but rather looking ahead to answer what do we need to be or do to build the right kind of company and culture that will ultimately allow us to succeed and compete in the market.
Further, assessing whether your values are merely stating what’s expected of you as a modern business versus articulating what actually makes you special or standout beyond the standard, is another great way to determine if it’s time for a values upgrade.
perhaps values are not the fixed, one-directional compass at the core of the business, but rather a modern day sat nav
But either way, the first step towards maximising your values potential might simply be being comfortable with the idea that perhaps values are not the fixed, one-directional compass at the core of the business, but rather a modern day sat nav that adapts, updates and informs you as you head down different paths or embark on new and exciting journeys.
At People-Made, we advise businesses at all stages of growth to define their brand values.
Get in touch and we’ll happily run through a quick values sense check with you; hello@​people-​made.​com