My husband just bought a new car. Amid the flurry of choices about form, function and color, the questions he most wrestled with were about his values. Was he more attached to speed, or economy? Luxury, or comfort? This car, he realized, was more than a way to get from Point A to Point B. It was an expression of his ideals, his principles … of who he wants to be in the world.
Everyday, all of us make these kinds of choices. What we wear, where we live, and the work we do are all expressions of our values.
When organizations are at their best, their values are a clearly, consistently, and consciously manifested in their products, strategies, systems and practices. Indeed, their values inform even their physical facilities.
Take @SwiftPage, whose values include “work is fun with a purpose.” Employees and visitors navigate the company’s long, linoleum halls on orange scooters, and meet in break rooms furnished with whole-wall whiteboards – and foosball tables.
Consider also, where teamwork, wholeness and appreciation are cherished norms. Large, communal spaces house comfortable furniture on wheels where ad hoc work teams configure and reconfigure as needed. Flip charts are everywhere, and you never have to hunt for markers. And the very best offices – the ones with windows and views of the mountains – go to front-line employees who are in their offices every day, rather than executives and consultants who travel regularly.
To embed or amplify your organization’s values, don’t just hang them on the wall … embody them. Walk your talk … but also surround yourself and others with those values. Create spaces that invite people to live the values every time they step through the door.