Sunday, July 29, 2007

Organizational Values

In A Simple Statement: A Guide to Nonprofit Arts Management and Leadership, Jamie Grady writes the following points on organizational values:

  • Organizational values are abstract ideas that guide organizational thinking and actions.
  • Organization values represent the foundation on which teh company is formed.
  • Defining an organization's unique values is the first and most critical step in its formation and development
  • While difference in opinion and skills may be beneficial to the success of an organization, a unity of purpose must be maintained.
  • In order for the institution to be successful, the values on which the company is built must be appropriate for the time, place, and environment in wich the organization will operate.
  • A company's organizational values let others know what it is, why it has been created, and how it is different from other companies.
How Do You Find Organizationl Values
Grady writes the following point on finding the values:

  • In order to understand and identify the values of an organization and to guage their influence on the company, managers must carefully examine how that organization operates.
  • While it may be helpful to listen to people describe what they believe the values of the organization are, it is far better to observe those people in their day-to-day activities.
  • Note how employees spend their time, how they communicate within the organization and how they go about their daily job responsbibilities and tasks.
  • Although values are often difficult to define, they are usually revealed by employees' actions and thinking, how they set their priorities, and how they allocate their time and energy. An employee's actions are more revealing than their words.
Dimensions to Understand Values
Grady writes the following dimensions help to understand organizational values and how those values drive an organization:

  • Prosocial dimension. Not-for-profit theatres have a responsibility
    to provide community access to thei performances, remove economic and cultural
    barriers to attendance, and educate audiences in theatre arts.
  • Market dimension. Theatres struggle between creating art of art's
    sake and meeting customer needs and expectations. A purely
    market-orientated philosophy is typically the mark of a commercial theatre, with its complete reliance on ticket sales for revenues, but all theater managers recognize the realities of the marketplace.
  • Financial dimension. Althought all theatres must content with the
    reality of financial demands while pursuing creativity and artistic excellence,
    fiscal stability is a particularly high prioritiy for some theatres.
  • Achievement dimension. Public recognition and accliam can affirm
    an organization's creative activity, and some theatres particularly strive for
    external recognition.
  • Artistic dimension. For many theatres, the top priority is
    internally focused creativity, innovation, and artistic dependence.

Key Take Aways

  • I think the reason the values are so important for an organization is because it's really about defining what matters and where people will spend time and energy.
  • Actions are louder than words. I've seen first hand when an organization states one set of values, but operated under another. I don't think it's on purpose. I think it happens when people write their values down without really first observing .
  • I find the dimensions particularly helpful as a way to frame out values in core areas that matter.