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From Words to Action: Defining Company Values That Work

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

At The J. Molner Company, company values are not just a business buzzword. We define company values as tangible, measurable, and actionable statements that guide day-to-day work. By adhering to the company principles and tracking their practice, our team is able to deliver precise results and reach goals on time. Their effort helps The J. Molner Company stand out from other contract pharmaceutical companies and be a great workplace.

Defining a company-wide ethos that works requires investing time and resources, yet we have seen how it facilitates assertiveness, collaboration, and scaling. In this article, we share some lessons regarding our experience implementing company values, which can guide you to do the same with your team.

Start with the why

Before writing lofty ideals, leaders must find the reason that will generate and justify their company's values. A simple framework that helps define this ethical core is Simon Sinek's Golden Circle, which has been successfully implemented in companies worldwide since it was popularized in a 2009 TED conference video. This friendly tool consists of a graphic with three concentric circles: Why, How, and What.

The Golden Circle should be filled, going from the inside to the outside. The core, known as the Why, should sum up the company's ultimate purpose in a statement. This text is the basis for the actions and processes described in the How circle. Finally, the outermost sphere (known as the What) features a list of tangible results that are logical conclusions for the previous two layers.

The Golden Circle helps leaders visually define a harmonious team ethos, as each core layer must support the next one. Thus, this framework allows leaders to craft value statements that are actionable, measurable, and work towards achieving the company’s primary goal.

Writing Value Statements

Good company values are not just lofty ideas framed on a wall; they are living directives that guide the behavior of a team and everyday decision-making. Therefore, core values cannot be summarized with a single word; they are complete sentences that complement each other and serve as the ethical compass of a company.

At The J. Molner Company, our value statements influence how we manage daily tasks, evaluate potential team members, plan future goals, and analyze the results of our operations. These values are as follows:

  1. We are passionate about what we do.

  2. We know our stuff and do it well.

  3. We are prepared for the unexpected.

  4. We are accountable for our promises and actions.

  5. We have each others' backs.

  6. We are brutally honest.

Having clearly defined values and introducing them from the start helps leaders create teams that work towards the same goal and know what is expected from them. Complementing these directives with a framework, such as the V/TO organizer described below, that makes the vision and measurable results tangible is essential.

Using a Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO)

The Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) r is one of the tools described by Gino Wickman in his book Traction, which proposes a series of steps and tools to shape the organizational management of a company. Filling a V/TO helps leaders avoid the all-too-common scenario in which the company's core values or primary purpose are not evident to all employees. Through the V/TO framework, leaders can make the company's vision tangible and establish a set of milestones that will reflect if the team is achieving traction.

The Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) looks similar to the lean canvas, with the main difference being that it has two sections. Its simple structure is easy to understand and provides a big picture of how the company's core values connect with its short-term goals.

The first canvas, known as Vision, encompasses:

Core Focus: It states the company's primary purpose and is equivalent to the Why described in Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle.

Core Values: These are the value statements discussed in the previous section.

10-Year Target: This long-term goal envisions how the company works and performs ten years from now.

3-Year Picture: This outlines where the company needs to be in three years to achieve the 10-year goal. This outline should encompass specific and inspiring goals aligned with the marketing strategy.

Marketing Strategy: This is a summary of the target market, unique differentiators, product portfolio, and service processes of the company.

The second canvas, known as Traction, makes the high-level information from the Vision board tangible, as it contains:

1-Year Plan: Consists of 7 milestones that define the path for the upcoming year, which propels the team to achieve the 3-Year Picture.

Quarterly Sparks: These are smaller, focused tasks for every quarter of the upcoming 12 months, based on the 1-year plan. To ensure their completion, these tiny “sparks” are assigned to a team member who then will be personally involved in building the company's success.

Potential Issues: This final section addresses obstacles, challenges, and opportunities that could hinder progress.

Living Company Values

As stated before, values are practical statements that guide the day-to-day work—but that doesn’t mean they are a company’s endgame. Sometimes, the Vision/Traction Organizer will be up to date (yay!), and sometimes unfortunately it won’t. But as long as leaders focus on execution, everyone knows what they must do, and no one steers too far from the company ethos, you’re doing a great job. That being said, if the V/TO organizer has not been reviewed in a while, it might be time to set a time to update it.

Good, practical core values build healthy workplaces that get things done. Having company values measurable in tangible results can mean the difference between stagnation and growth. By defining a company ethos and breaking it down into a Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO), leaders can easily manage day-to-day activities to achieve more significant milestones. This spirit of stewardship and accomplishment can distinguish a company as a place where team members can see how their daily individual effort generates impressive collaborative results.

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