28 Jul #079 – Integriosity – Re-Imagined Implementation – Real Culture, Purpose and Values
ESSENCE: Faithfully “doing right” through business a better way requires an alignment of Purpose, Values and Culture arising from a commitment to Biblical beliefs, values and priorities that leads a person or organization, instinctively, to do the right things, in the right ways and for the right reasons. Purpose is the cornerstone and Values are the foundation that must define and drive Culture, and Culture needs to reflect and reinforce Purpose and Values. If the Culture of the organization is not reinforcing its desired Purpose and stated Values, it is likely eroding them. Regardless of what is communicated as an organization’s formal Purpose and Values, the human beings in the organization will manage and perform (and shape a real Culture) based on what they perceive to be the real Purpose and real Values. Employees, customers and other stakeholders drawn by a passion for an organization’s stated Purpose and Values may do an about-face when they experience a real Culture that is out of alignment. Re-Imagining Culture requires an honest assessment of the organization’s current Culture, and an honest assessment of Culture requires an honest assessment of the real WHY behind the organization’s Purpose, Values and Culture.
Our last post (#078) began looking at the final step in the RE-IMAGINE stage of Integriosity®—Re-Imagine Implementation by Re-Imagining Culture. Re-Imagining Culture can occur once the leaders an or organization have settled on a Re-Imagined Purpose and Re-Imagined Values. As we have said many times in prior posts, Purpose and Values define the Culture of an organization; the Culture shapes the behavior of the people in the organization; and the behavior of the people drives the results of the organization.
Re-Imagining Implementation: Culture, Values and Purpose.
The core of Integriosity is an alignment of Purpose, Values and Culture arising from a commitment to Biblical beliefs, values and priorities that leads a person or organization, instinctively, to do the right things, in the right ways and for the right reasons. Purpose is the cornerstone and Values are the foundation that must define and drive Culture, and Culture needs to reflect and reinforce Purpose and Values. If the Culture of the organization is not reinforcing its desired Purpose and stated Values, it is likely eroding them. Whether an organization’s Culture ultimately encourages and leads its people to do the right things, in the right ways and for the right reasons, goes back to its Purpose, as translated through its Values.
Regardless of what is posted on the website as an organization’s formal Purpose and Values, the human beings in the organization will manage and perform based on what they perceive to be the real Purpose and real Values. For example:
- The website may say “glorify God” and there may be wonderful processes in place to communicate and reiterate that Purpose, but if the managers and employees in the organization perceive that Profit as Purpose is really what is encouraged and rewarded through behavior, a key role of the informal organizational culture of the business will be to drive profit. For example, a Culture can be designed (or will just emerge) to drive or inspire people to perform at higher levels and contribute more to profitability through mechanisms like bonuses/commissions/promotions and the fear of elimination or demotion.
- The website may say “Integrity” is a Value, but if the message communicated by managers is that employees are rewarded for “winning”, whatever it takes, then Integrity will be eroded to uphold the real Value of “Winning at All Costs”.
Regardless of what is on the website, other stakeholders such as employees, customers and vendors will experience, and respond to, the real Culture of the organization, and that real Culture will reveal the organization’s real Purpose and the real Values. A recent report on business purpose found that 89% of business leaders felt Purpose mattered but only 39% felt that the business model and operations of their organization were actually aligned with its stated Purpose! It makes you wonder if its stated Purpose was its real Purpose.
People care about authenticity and alignment. In the book Completing Capitalism: Heal Business to Heal the World, the authors note a survey of employees by the Mars Corporation finding that working for a company actually living out its stated values was worth 30% in pay. Employees, customers and other stakeholders drawn by a passion for an organization’s stated Purpose and Values may do an about-face when they experience a real Culture that is out of alignment.
Corporate cultures do not spring from words, hopes, or even powerful ideas. Like strategy, culture arises from and is made real by the actions and decisions of real people. (Chris Houston)
Re-Imagining Implementation: Honest Cultural Assessment
Re-Imagining Culture requires an honest assessment of the organization’s current Culture, as reflected in its policies and practices related to areas such as hiring, termination, discipline, compensation, ethical behavior, training, vacation, family leave, customer service, vendors, and community service. Such an assessment must dig underneath the Culture to examine the assumptions and motivations (such as Scarcity, Self-Interest and “Can We” Ethics) that may have underpinned the current policies and practices.
An honest assessment of Culture also requires an honest assessment of the real WHY behind the organization’s Purpose, Values and Culture. Lofty Purpose statements and Value lists can be created in order to appeal to the perceived demands of investors, employees, vendors or customers, rather than in an effort to faithfully “do right”. Even healthy cultures can be intentionally curated for the “wrong” reasons–often the real WHY for “doing good” (or even being “Godly”) is profit.
If, for example, profit maximization is really the “WHY” behind a culture (even an intentional and healthy culture), then stated (or real) Values can change (and Culture can change) to adapt to changes in current or perceived demands–values become a tool to achieve profit rather than “the right thing to do”, “who we are” and “how we live out our purpose”.
The goal of Integriosity is the alignment of an organization’s Purpose, Values and Culture with Biblical beliefs, values and priorities; however, in the wise words of Larry Crabb:
Biblical principles are reduced to basic principles of the world when they’re followed in order to gain the ‘better life’ we demand.
We believe it is time to—RE-IMAGINE the heart of the organization by pursuing business a better way in alignment with Biblical values and priorities–it is time to begin faithfully “doing right” through Integriosity®.
SPOILER ALERT: In the next several posts, we will explore how Culture relates to Products, Sustainability and Connection.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): When I think of real world examples of a gross mismatch between stated Values and real Values, Enron is the first example that comes to mind. Its stated Values were Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence. In Michael Novak’s 1996 book Business as Calling, Ken Lay, the Chairman and CEO of Enron is quoted as saying:
I was, and am, a strong believer that one of the most satisfying things in life is to create a highly moral and ethical environment in which every individual is allowed and encouraged to realize their God-given potential.
The real Culture of Enron was famously (or infamously) a culture of pride and greed. The impact of its collapse rippled through the energy industry and the economy more generally. My only “exposure” to Enron came in a due diligence meeting for an unrelated company. The company was in the energy trading business and was planning a securities offering. They described to us the complex spiderweb of derivatives and trading contracts that characterized the industry, with everybody on the hook to everyone else. As counsel for the prospective underwriters, I asked what would happen if a major player were to go bankrupt. The company CEO told me that it would not have a material impact on them. Then he paused and added with a chuckle “unless it was Enron”, to which everyone in the room broke out in laughter at such a preposterous eventuality–Enron was laughably too big to fail. The offering did not proceed for other reasons, but it was just one year later when Enron failed.
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Photo Credit: Original photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash (photo cropped).