The trouble with value systems is that, very often, they have no proper translation into pragmatic and visible expectations that can be rewarded or not, accepted or not, and into something with unequivocal meaning. I have just defined ‘behaviours’.
For those of us sitting with one foot in the Behavioural Sciences, the use of the term ‘behaviour’ is far more restricted than the average often seen next to many vision and mission statements. For many years now, since the word ‘behaviour’ became more fashionable in the corporate and HR language, behavioural statements have populated Values/Mission/Vision sets, added there with the hope of increasing their ‘practical weight’.
But adding or labelling something as ‘behaviour’ does not make it one. Many behavioural translations of Values remain trapped into circular explanations, saying the same with different words. ‘Honesty’ as a value, as an example, could be ‘translated’ and explained as: ‘Act with sincerity and authenticity; be candid and open; create trust’. Which explains absolutely nothing about honesty, but looks like a solid line of ‘explanations’. Just hope that the consultant’s bill was not very high.
Creating a set of behaviours that are visible, reward-able, concrete and, above all, have unequivocal meaning, is key to be able to use them as a currency in the organization. (Honesty, sincerity, authenticity, candour, openness and trust do have equivocal meaning. None of them are behaviours)
Non negotiable behaviours’ is a term that we use all the time in our consulting work to emphasise their weight and importance. These non negotiable behaviours need to be crafted in a way that is as universal as possible, the same rule that applies to the Organizational Logic (algorithms) that I mentioned in the previous chapter.
Similarly to the criteria for Algorithms, there are not (they should not be) a long set of non negotiable behaviours. Any long set is suspicious.
To recap the formula of the Steering system is” (1) Space in the World (Purpose) + (2) Core Beliefs + (3) Non negotiable Behaviours + (4) Organization Logic (Basic People Algorithms) = (5) Company Constitution
The one to tackle next is “Core beliefs’