Values and Principles
Following on the series of business planning related blog posts (including ‘What a good business plan looks like?’ and ‘Developing a Business Planning Process’) this post looks at a key element of your plan: a statement of your company’s values and principles.
A professional service firm will ‘live or die’ on the strength of the culture it has; fundamentally, one of the challenges you are taking on is a human one – that of building a high-performing team. At the heart of this effort, sit the firm’s values and principles; that is, what you stand for, your behavioural code.
The distinction between the two is that ‘values’ underpin ‘principles’; that is, values will be ideals you hold true, whereas a principle is closer to being a pragmatic guide to action (based on one or more values). In the first instance, you will probably just want to communicate the core values that sit at the heart of your persona and ambition; principles can evolve from there. I suggest no more than five values and no more than eight subsidiary principles. A good test as to whether you have too many, down the line, is to ask a colleague if they know what they are!
A future blog (based on my Guide 09) will cover this aspect in some detail; suffice to say here, this is far more than a set of words on paper. Anybody can post a ‘shopping list’ of platitudes on their office wall or website. It is also really important that such items are forged from collective discussion as opposed to being mandated from the top.
That all said, you as the leader of the business have a priority voice. They have to be values and principles you personally care about and live to; else, people will quickly see the sham that is the gulf between espoused rhetoric and actual behaviour. At start-up, it is important, therefore, that you put thoughtful, initial voice to this. What do you want your firm to stand for? Your clients, and future colleagues, will want to know this.
Try also to be different. This is not always easy as, clearly, many values are universally sought – integrity, collaboration etc. So, don’t sweat uniqueness at the altar of relevance and authenticity; far better that your values are heartfelt than innovative for the sake of differentiation. It’s just that when they are heartfelt, and unique, something very special starts to form.
UPDATE – As an exemplar case study in how to go about forging your company/team values – see here.
If you are interested in re-charging your business ambition/strategy/plans, Dom runs his (three-day) Five-Year Entrepreneur Retreat twice a year (March, September) – see here for previous delegate testimonials and details on future presentations. If you would like to make a reservation (capped to 14 attendees per Retreat) please drop a line via the contact page.
DOWNLOAD GUIDE 03 (BUSINESS PLANNING) HERE >>>