Oct 5, 2004

Organizational Values ...



David Weinberger writes in the worthwhile blog about Citigroup CEO's new focus on values.

"He said yesterday that in the coming year he aimed to lecture employees about
internalizing Citigroup rules 'until I'm blue in the face.'" And, he will be
"ruthless" with transgressors.


David's reaction:
So, he's not talking about values at all. He's talking about rules. And the
problem with rules is that you can't even have internal policemen lined up along
the side of the road. Someone is going to drive off road, or the policemen will
be confronted with an ambiguous, new situation and will choose to implement
their rules foollishly. Only genuine values can handle the interesting cases
where people go wrong.
So, It sounds Citigroup, with the CEO lecturing you
until he's blue in the face, is going to be a heck of a fun place to work.

I've always wondered about this approach of coming up with a "value statement/list" within organizations and then trying to get compliance by fiat. And it's something I must readily admit OD and Training people like me collude with business leaders.

Truth be told, values are imbued in an organization at the time of its formation and is the foundation of the hazy thing called "Organizational Culture". Most of the time it is the entrepreneur's personal values that get enmeshed with the values of the organization. Most organizations also have a dichotomy between "expressed" values and "actioned" values. This divergence actually makes people feel inauthentic unless the values in action are acknowledged.

So do you work for an organization that says X and yet in actual processes, practices, coffee machine conversations shows that it means Y? You are not alone...