Corporate shared values

Corporate shared values provide a way for an organisation to signal what it thinks is important about what it delivers and how it delivers it.

Shared values tell customers, employees, suppliers, distributors and other partners that this is the kind of organisation that they would like to do business with.

Shared values work best when they can be tightly linked to behaviours:

  • What behaviours would you expect your values to drive?
  • How can you observe people exhibiting (or, equally, not exhibiting) your values? How can you "catch them in the act" of living out the values?

The most popular values

We've analysed hundreds of business strategies to bring you this list of the 20 most common values. They are, in order of popularity:

  1. Integrity
  2. Innovation
  3. Respect
  4. Excellence
  5. Teamwork
  6. Transparency
  7. Accountability
  8. Collaboration
  9. Quality
  10. Trust
  11. Value
  12. Safety
  13. Honesty
  14. Openness
  15. Service
  16. Sustainability
  17. Leadership
  18. Passion
  19. Diversity
  20. Education

The most popular - integrity - is 60% more popular than the next most popular - innovation - and over five times more popular than the 20th most popular - education.

Differentiating your values

Business strategy emphasises the importance of differentiation. Differentiation allows you to stand out in the market. It tells customers what they can get from you and from no-one else. It allows you to grow in areas of the market that have not already been outcompeted,

Does that mean that adopting the same values as everyone else is a bad thing?

Not necessarily. But if you do choose values on the above list of the most popular, it is important that you tailor them to your specific organisation and market.

If you value integrity, it's important to be very clear about exactly what that means in your organisation, how it manifests in the products and services you deliver, and what unique benefit your customers will derive from it.

And choosing different values, or expressing them in unique ways, does provide a way to set yourself apart from the crowd.

StratNavApp.com provides a tool to document and describe an organisation's values.

Walking the walk

Stating value is not enough. It is important that you are able to demonstrate how your organisation and its people live them in their daily activities.

Stating a value draws attention to it. So if you fail to live up to it, the consequences are likely to be worse than if you'd said nothing at all.

The McKinsey 7S framework provides an opportunity to assess whether an organisation lives up to its values or not and whether those values are aligned with the rest of its operation. You can do this right within StratNavApp.com.

Addendum: How things have changed

We first ran this analysis in February 2021. We then repeated it in September 2021 and now in September 2022 with even larger data sets. Here is a summary of the changes between those time periods.

Value February 2021 September 2021 September 2022
Integrity 1 1 1
Innovation 2 2 2
Respect 3 3 3
Excellence 9 4 (+5) 4
Teamwork 5 9 (-4) 5(+4)
Transparency 6 7 (-1) 6(+1)
Accountability 7
Collaboration 10 5 (+5) 8(-3)
Quality 8 6 (+2) 9(-3)
Trust 10
Value 4 8 (-4) 11(-3)
Safety 7 10 (-3) 12(-2)
Honesty 13
Openness 14
Service 15
Sustainability 16
Leadership 17
Passion 18
Diversity 19
Education 20

It is interesting to note that the actual top 10 values themselves remain relatively unchanged. Trust and Accountability are the notable new entries. For the rest, that has mostly just been some shift in their ordering.

Does this reflect a change in priorities as organisations and people reconsider what matters most to them after COVID-19?

Note: This analysis is all automated. We've not actually read that many plans. More to the point, we never read the plans on StratNavApp.com unless we're specifically invited and asked to!


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