Core Values

By Erica Olsen

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Are you looking for great examples of values statements? Well, search no more. We’ve got a few great examples right here!

Values are enduring, passionate, and distinctive core beliefs. They’re guiding principles that never change. Values are deeply held convictions, priorities, and underlying assumptions that influence your attitudes and behaviors. Your core values and mission statement are part of your strategic foundation – the beliefs and purpose that you are truly committed to.

Advice from Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” “People frequently confuse timeless core values with aspirations of what you’d like to see the organization become in the future. Do not mix future aspirations into your true and authentic core values, as this will create justifiable cynicism and destroy the power of your core values.” Leave those future ideas in the vision statement.

A Warning About Values Statements

It’s important to recognize that while a well-articulated set of core values is critical to an organization’s success, the creation of a values statement can, and often is, a separate process by itself. However, a strategic plan is not complete without a declaration of the underlying beliefs in your organization. Here is how to address this without bogging down your process:

  • If you have a values statement, take the time to review and renew it as a step in your strategic planning process.
  • If you don’t have one, set this aside for now, but let everyone know that you will come back to it. Embark on creating a shared, staff-driven values statement immediately after you have completed your planning down to the action item level. Go here for a long list of words to spur thinking when you are ready.

For inspiration, here are some values statements we love:

Starbucks

With our partners, our coffee and our customers at our core, we live these values:

  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
  • We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.

Patagonia

Our Reason for Being
Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers. Alpinism remains at the heart of a worldwide business that still makes clothes for climbing – as well as for skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running. These are all silent sports. None require a motor; none deliver the cheers of a crowd. In each sport, reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection between us and nature.

Our values reflect those of a business started by a band of climbers and surfers, and the minimalist style they promoted. The approach we take towards product design demonstrates a bias for simplicity and utility.

For us at Patagonia, a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet. We donate our time, services and at least 1% of our sales to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups all over the world who work to help reverse the tide.

We know that our business activity – from lighting stores to dyeing shirts – creates pollution as a by-product. So we work steadily to reduce those harms. We use recycled polyester in many of our clothes and only organic, rather than pesticide-intensive, cotton.

Staying true to our core values during thirty-plus years in business has helped us create a company we’re proud to run and work for. And our focus on making the best products possible has brought us success in the marketplace.

Seventh Generation

Global Imperatives
Our Global Imperatives help us become the change we want to see in the world.

Restore the Environment. Restore is the next “reduce, reuse, recycle.” We are working to ensure that our products have a circular lifecycle, meaning natural resources are
being used and renewed at a rate that is always below their rate of depletion.
Inspire Conscious Consumption. Our focus is to inspire thoughtful consideration of each purchase—from the immediate impact of the products you buy (Is it safe? Does it
work?) to the broader impacts created by their lifecycles.
Create a Just and Equitable World. We’re committed to making sure that everyone our company interacts with—from the farmers who grow our lavender to the
customers who use our products—are treated fairly and with respect.

Align your team to your mission and values

Use OnStrategy’s software to build a strategic plan to align your team to your mission, vision, and values.

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Kinko’s

Core Values

  1. Alignment and accountability: We accept responsibility for our actions. We make and support business decisions through experience and good judgment.
  2. Customer Service Excellence: We are dedicated to satisfying customer needs and honoring commitments that we have made to them.
  3. Teamwork: Our team is supportive of each other’s efforts, loyal to one another, and care for each other both personally and professionally.
  4. Balance: We are flexible, helping team members strike a healthy work and life balance.
  5. Community and environment: We strive to help and improve the communities where we work and live. We are concerned about the environment and promote the use of recyclable products and renewable energy.
  6. Integrity: We act with honesty and integrity, not compromising the truth.
  7. Passion for results: We show pride, enthusiasm and dedication in everything that we do. We are committed to selling and delivering high quality products and services.
  8. Respect: We treat our team members, customers, partners and suppliers with mutual respect and sensitivity, recognizing the importance of diversity. We respect all individuals and value their contributions.
  9. Open Communication: All team members are encouraged to openly share their
    opinions and views.

How to Create a Values Statement with Your Team

Host a 1.5 hour strategy session to develop a list of shared values by asking participants to answer the following questions:

• What are 3 to 5 core values and beliefs that guide our daily interactions as a team?
• What are our non-negotiables?

Have each member write one idea per sticky note. On a wall, create an affinity diagram by grouping like ideas.

Select groups with the most sticky notes. Identify the value, and use the rest of the words to craft a description. Repeat for each grouping until all values are identified. Evaluate the list using this worksheet.

The Bottom Line

The tendency is to roll values statements into mission and vision statements. While all three need to work well together, we at OnStrategy recommend that they are distinctive, as they serve three different purposes.

• Keep the list of values to less than seven, because seven is the magic memory number.
• If you get stuck, consider thinking about your values statement as a list of “non-negotiable” behaviors.
• Values statements, just like missions and visions, are only useful if they are in daily practice. Talk about and embed the use of values in core business processes.

Watch our video on “How to Write a Value Statement”.


Erica Olsen

Erica Olsen is the COO and a co-founder of OnStrategy. She has developed the format and the user interface for the award-winning OnStrategy on-line strategic management system. In addition, she is the author of Strategic Planning Kit for Dummies, 2nd Edition. Erica has developed and reviewed hundreds of strategic plans for public and private entities across the country and around the world. She is a lecturer at University of Nevada Reno and University of Phoenix. She holds a BA in Communications and an MBA in International Management.
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