In our latest business book group, we got around to discussing the value of an organisation’s values.
Now, everyone in the group felt that they had a clear set of values, and very much tried to stick to them. In business, they knew how they wanted to be, how they thought they should be – and how they tried to be.
Obviously, many of our values are likely to stem from our upbringing – and for me also, believe it or not, from growing up reading comics where there are heroes and villains. Generally, the heroes stand for something – they have a sense of honour and a clear view of what’s right and wrong. Now, I’m fairly sure that the comics were influential to some extent in my personal value system as an adult.
Fair enough, in recent years the clear right/wrong, good/bad contrast has become a bit opaque, with more ‘anti-heroes’ and a blurring of the edges, but it was much clearer when I was growing up when the X-Men stood up for the ‘rejects’, Spiderman fought for good, and the Avengers avenged.
So, you’d think having a clear set of values would be a good thing and yet I pick up a lot of clients who, in my opinion, have been ripped-off. When they’ve paid 5 times what a website is worth or when an agency has not done anything on the PPC for months, despite charging for it.
We are not perfect by any means, and we don’t claim to be the best, but due to our values we genuinely turn up and do the work. We are committed to getting our clients what they need to achieve, committed to doing the work, and committed giving them the best ROI that we possibly can.
And yet, when we know others rip people off and still have more clients and make more money, it can feel like trying to have decent values doesn’t necessarily count for what it should. I suppose it does mean that you can face yourself in the mirror though.
So, what is the value of a company having values?
So, back to the book group. We discussed the top three companies in the world: Facebook, Amazon, and Google (or Microsoft) and whether they genuinely have values? As you can imagine, it was an interesting discussion.
If good people trying to do their best, in a decent way, are not necessarily rewarded as well as those who deliberately don’t, we might wonder why bother having values and a sense of decency in business at all. I suppose that’s something individuals can only answer for themselves.