Everything but the kitchen sink

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EziTag Epistler

30 Jul 2014

How organisations can clean up their values… literally

Organisations today treat values like bower birds treat brightly coloured debris - they gather them up with a near-instinctive compulsiveness and spread them across their nests (read websites) with meticulous care.

Of course, the more enlightened among us know that most corporate values are nowhere near as useful as a collection of broken blue plastic crap gathered by a creature with the brain the size of a Jaffa, but prefer not to say so publicly.

I'm doing it now, not as a curmudgeonly spoiler but as a solutioniser (which is apparently not just a word, but in some places a job title now).

Most of us visit the major web sites nearly every day, “Google, EBay, EziTag and Fred’s Delicatessen all have their values” on their web sites”. But off the top of your head can you recall them? Probably not, but I’ll bet they all mention “Innovation”.

There are two main troubles with this: the first is that Company Z, along with a good three quarters of the other companies using this value considers “Innovation” to mean updating to a ten-year old version of Windows every 20 years. The word is sullied by lesser market participants.

The second is that “innovative” has a very simple definition. It means advanced and original. Ironically, listing Innovative as a value makes you the opposite of innovative.

Here’s my solution. Either take values seriously or get rid of them entirely.

By seriously, I mean don’t choose the values that everyone else chooses. Go with values that have practical application or concrete meaning. “Google has the fastest search engine, EBay is the best online auction house, EziTag has the best custom printed lanyards and conference name tags and Fred’s Delicatessen has bacteria free ham”.

Another example is to replace your wishy-washy mush like “Committed” or “Integrated” with “Clean”. But don’t leave it at that. Go on to describe what you mean - that your company doesn’t tolerate lazy pigs who leave their cups and plates in the communal sink, their crusty lunch splatter in the microwave and crumbs on the bench top. Then tell your employees the truth: that the cleanest part of any office today is the toilet seat. (It’s a proven scientific fact.) 

(Don’t forget to caption this week’s image on our Facebook competition! - http://on.fb.me/1nSuOkn)

By listing “Clean”, you go against the grain while creating a value that actually means something.

A word of warning though. Your courage will win you praise, attention and, ultimately the sincerest form of flattery. When the imitators come, immediately wipe the value du jour from the face of your website.

Now that’s true innovation but unlikely to take out any awards at this years “True Innovation Awards – The New Era 2014” in Thailand!!