Branding is many times looked at a marketing exercise senior executives should consider that the work of defining one’s vision mission and values lays a strong foundation when looking at the implications for building internal culture and process. Starting at the top of the strategic planning hierarchy, brand can set the vision set the tone and compass for that the organization will take. The work is only beginning at this point as a further and more in-depth look must be taken for mapping values across the organization. Many values based analysis tends to stay at the brand level and speak to the overall values to convey in the marketing. Having individual departments conduct their own values exercise is a great way to understand how different areas of the business see themselves within the organizational structures. At the center of this methodology that Cheval Partners uses are exercises to help team and managers conduct value identification and prioritization.
Many interesting insights come out of the exercise:
- There are usually vast differences between functional areas. This would be natural to expect as some are focused on customer service, others on operational aspects and some focused on building new areas of the business. This should be looked at as health as each group has its own focus. What is critical is to start to define value chains within the organization and begin to understand when values or standard operating procedures are in conflict with the overriding values of the entire chain.
- Study different levels of the management hierarchy. Is their alignment to purpose or conflict. This can be a good indicator that the incentive models in the organization are created correctly or have become more political than mission based. A shiny mission statement about teamwork does not fix a culture of infighting.
- A close look must be paid to management values and team values. Many times the root cause when managers are focused on politics are tuned into that conversation and missing the team is aligned on the mission. This is where the danger of a culture where managers are only working to please their boss and climb to the next level creates the most conflict. Leaders need to focus their managers on supporting the team’s mission and through that success be rewarded.
- When values are in conflict, one has to establish ground rules for value basing ( or debasing). A simple example are two teams in a value chain that are focused on speed vs. quality or depth of service vs. market growth. In most cases general 80/20 policies can help guide teams in mainstream decisions. Its when the exception comes along that escalation to leadership needs not only a decision, but the directives to how both teams will receive mutual benefits, especially for the team that might have to concede in some way or metric to the greater good. It is in these times of exceptions that culture is built and cross-team collaboration can be celebrated
- Value base shifts. In a time where markets are driving rapid innovation and agility, values are also subject to change. Now that said, core values do not change! I’m talking about the shift of focus and values of teams in various functions of the organization that are undergoing change. Long standing and successful teams build a conviction behind their values and past successes. It is important to re-address what the value shifts may be explicitly during times of change.
With a the values exercise in place and constantly managed. An organization is now ready to begin process and governance phases of organizational design or change. Branding can be a powerful catalyst around identify, but making the organization align to deliver on the brand promise is even a greater challenge. I will dive into more details of the values based exercises and then move into dynamic governance models in future blogs.