The problem with most theories is that they remain just that… a theory. Their power does not come through until they are lived and this applies equally to both our personal and business life.
I’ve studied plenty of theory over the years, and I recently had that ‘ah-ha’ moment about Organisational Values where I finally got what the researcher was talking about, albeit some 20 years later!
In the past, as with many theories learnt at University and in my professional exams, I have seen these words as little more than platitudes, sounding good but with no real weight behind them. They did not feel alive, and so I have struggled to make them work for my business.
Recently I was encouraged by a friend (all credit to Professor Phil Cleaver of Etal Design) to come up with 5 or 6 words that deep down define my business… I have a huge respect for this friend, but could not help feeling like ‘here we go again’ with another great theory.
Suffice to say that I did my bit and he designed a gorgeous logo. His final comment about the design was interesting though… “now you have to bring it to life, have some fun with it”
The taught way to do this is through the traditional marketing mix (I think we are now up to 7 ‘P’s, although we only had 4 in my day)… So I’ve started a collection of umbrellas (the symbol we used), some fancy brochures and pens with the logo, the office has been smartened up to create a uniform experience. I could feel the logo coming to life…. but Values not so much.
These words: Responsibility, People, Honesty, Quality, Simplicity and Independence seemed to languish on a page on the website and just did not feel like they were living or breathing, until I had the inspiration to print them off and take them into a Staff performance appraisal.
We sat down with a job description and the Values and just ran through the whole of her role, seeing how they interacted with elements of her job… and the magic happened, the Values came to life in the business because now people were living those values.
It's all about the people in organisations, they are the ones that deliver the quality, they form the relationships, they keep things simple. This is how you go about creating a living and breathing consistency in an organisation, and everyone can feel the difference.
(References: http://marketingmixhub.com/ashridge-mission-model/ This particular theory is embedded in the Ashbridge Mission Model (Campbell 1992).)