WHO ARE WE – our values sets the scene.

A lot referenced in EXTRACT resolves around better understanding to be able to better strategise. And yes, it’s important to have this understanding, but your organisation will not succeed unless you define a few things first!

This is not CSI but you have to ask yourself – Who are you!

Begin by defining who you are, why you exist as an organisation and what you stand for!

By defining who your organization is, what it stands for, and articulating it’s collective dreams, you will be able to give the organisation a purpose and envision a desired end state the organisation can work towards as a sustainable business. 

The importance of purpose or having and perusing a vision is present in texts since antiquity, across religious and philosophical boundaries, each of these systems found a way of highlighting the importance of understanding why you and your organisation exists.

Proverbs say that “Where there is no vision, the people perish” and that could not be more true!

Most leaders will agree that having a purpose, vision or a dream is the most inspiring director of effort and energy in an organisation, but it must be remembered that this is only true if this purpose is aligned with the collective’s most treasured beliefs about the world around them and the collective values of the organisation..

The collective called the organisation must therefore first understand their values and define a set of principles that act as guardrails for the organisation.

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.

Carl Gustav Jung

Values of fundamental importance, worth, or usefulness defines who we are as an organisation, they espouse the fundamental beliefs of the organisation and form the basis for defining the principles by which the organisation operate. Together they define the culture within an organisation!

Values to a large extend make the organisation who the organisation is, it is what makes every organisation unique. Values also set standards of behaviour for a staff and define goals and objectives.

When any goal and objective conflict with values or organisational culture, it’s the culture and values that always win.

Peter Drucker said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and there is nothing more true and important to an organisation when embarking on a transformational journey than to understand its values and define some key principles that all decisions need to be checked against!

Understanding and defining these cultural elements are even more important than goals and objectives for the organisational leadership. 

Whenever they have tried to do something in a me-too fashion, we have failed at it. If it was driven by the values of the organisation they succeeded most of the time!

Jeff Bezos, Amazon

Values and the resultant principles also give the leadership permission to dream.

Defining an organisation’s vision or purpose will always be subservient to the values and fundamental beliefs of the leadership and the organisation as a whole.

Individual values and organisational values are not necessarily the same, although key stakeholders in organisations often define, or at least ugely influence the fundamental set of organisational values.

Because values are so ethereal, it is often transcribed as a set of principles, which are much more useful when considering not only what an organisation can do, but also what an organisation should do.

We do lots of different things, but the cultural thread that runs through all of these things is the same. We only have a few principles at Amazon, kind of core values we go back to over and over again. If you look at each of the things that we do, you would see those run straight through everything.

Jeff Bezos

In simple terms – values are the things the organisation stand for and they have a fundamental influence on the purpose, goals and objectives of an organisation.

In Jung’s words, you cannot define a strategic direction if you have not defined your value system and transcribed this into a set of guiding principles.

It should be noted that principles in itself is also a fickle concept, as principles can be guardrails at different levels in the organisation. One often finds that principles cascade from strategic, to tactical to operational levels in organisations. In this context we are concerned however with principles defined at a strategic level and not those at tactical or operational levels (who in any case needs to be aligned or support superordinate (strategic) principles).  

Principles at the core of the ADapT Strategic Cycle.

VeriSM describes principles as “guide-rails”, and that’s a spot-on description, these guiding principles provide the boundaries for acceptable action, at all levels.

You may have noted earlier that we said that your vision, purpose, mission, causes etc. also influence these principles – the reason is simple, it’s at the core of the strategic cycle in ADapT.

Also note that from now on we will change our vocabulary slightly, it is purposeful and not just replacement of words. We will no longer talk about vision and mission, but rather PURPOSE and CAUSE/S, these words have a slightly different meaning and we believe the distinction is important!

The outcome of the circle is the resultant strategic direction given to the rest of the organisation in order to make dreams come true. Strategic direction is given in the form of AIMS, goals and policy and enable the translation of aims, goals and policy, owned at a tactical level into tactical and operational plans and their related objectives.

NOTE that objectives are tactical task as they belong to a plan and the “how to”. Strategic level questions are always limited to the what (causes, aims, goals, policy) level and the why (culture, purpose and principle) level.

Although the setting of objectives is of utmost importance, they should be set at the right level (tactical) within the boundaries acceptable to the organisation, and with the right people involved. If you need to reach and objective you need to be involved in defining it!

Those boundaries of what is to be achieved are defined by principles, policy and marginally by controls. Although controls are actually a tactical decision also, they sometimes need to be set at a strategic level.

You may already have noticed that the strategic language used in ADapT are not what you are use to – but we will expand on the why and the how in the following sessions. The strategic cascade in ADapT can be defined as the following six elements or topics:

  • Values
  • Principles (are influenced by all of these)
  • Purpose
  • Cause
  • Aim
  • Goals
  • Policy

These elements are dependent on environmental input, both from the environment in which the organisation operates and also feedback from within the organisation and specifically its customers.

You don’t choose your passions – your passions chooses you.”

Jeff Bezos

You may ask – where are things like objectives, plans, processes etc. on the above list? These are tactical responses to strategy and therefore in the domain of management and subject matter experts, NOT the governing body or the board. Management is important but it’s a separate activity from governance (strategy).

We have defined our CORE PRINCIPLES as”

  • Take responsibility for our own actions
  • Continually, learn grow and develop
  • Investing in our people
  • Simplicity in all we do
  • Community and people first
  • Open and honest communication and sharing
  • Tread lightly on the earth and live in harmony with the universe
  • Transact based on fair value exchanged