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Values set your culture and your culture becomes your identity. Your identity becomes your growth driver. Hundreds of organizations and companies go into the value route unaware of the broader implications to their business strategies and overall operational effectiveness.
There are 3 important elements to put into place when you're contemplating on going the values route to bring about positive changes in your organization.
1. Values makes the organization and the organization makes it explicit
If you want to be taken seriously, take values seriously. Don't follow the bandwagon. Set values that resonate at all levels, and your committed to, in the long haul. Periodically reflect, build on, and keep these alive at every fork in your organizational journey.
2. Live it and breath it
It's not alright to set it and forget it. Not with values. When invoked and lived powerfully, these values become filters for all kinds of things that do not sit well with your organization. For example, a company that prides itself with hiring people with disabilities, will pursue business strategies that bring about inclusion, empowerment, and engagement as core operational values, not just making profits.
3. When in conflict, check your values
When internal conflict happens, check your values. Set metric for accountability on how leaders and all stakeholders should behave according to these values. Account for discrepancies between actions and rhetoric. Guard against misleading and unfounded interpretations that can develop over time.
4. You will lose some people and opportunities
When values are taken seriously, you cannot have the whole world. You will never compromise with your values for the sake of short-term gain or agenda because it's the flavor-of-the-month. When the Black Lives Matter becomes trendy, most organizations publish their statement of support and with changes that they promise to uphold regardless whether these have enduring implications they can adequately sustain for the long haul. Looking back, mere palliative measures simply fade away from relevance when weighed against bigger priorities.
5. Own it and take the responsibilities
The beauty and benefits of organizational values come with costs and responsibilities. Setting new norms as a founder or Board or new Executive Director can be daunting but the rewards outweigh the initial difficulties. I know of an organization who had been discussing their values for a long time in a casual manner until recently when the discussions have surfaced more complex dimensions not previously brought up. This is a sign that readiness is higher and that another next step must be taken to move this forward. Get the temperature right and it will not feel neither stalling nor rushing to get this done.
Suppose you have all these things, now what? Enjoy these values and make them relevant everyday.
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If you're working in the sector of purpose, you might be stressing with today's unfolding events. Global supply chain crisis, skyrocketing inflation, petroleum price hike, defense budgets increases, talks of world war threes, nuclear showdown, humanitarian disaster in Eastern Europe, economic recessions, another virus strain...
These issues have local impact. They do. Take the case of increasing defense budgets which can be used instead for heath, education, social welfare, community development, which the citizens of countries need the most. Reeling from the pandemic effects, organizations will feel the pinch of a bloated defense budget taking away precious tax dollars for life-saving work. The global supply chain crisis is causing major economic costs to businesses and consumers. We are still not even at the tail-end of this, unfortunately.
But, there are things you can control as you navigate the complex terrain of global realities impacting your day-to-day management. Here are some key questions for you.
1. How do you plan to bring back the talent you lost during the pandemic? How good are you at retaining what you currently have?
2. Is your organization dependent mostly on grant and tied-up money? How can you diversity your revenue streams and be good at getting partners who can leverage your resources with.
3. What short-term pivots can you make to transition from pandemic management to post-pandemic effectiveness?
Control is a matter of perspective. It's not what happens to you but what do you do about it. The world maybe going nuts but your world can be better.
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So many people want to make a difference but very few are capable of being different from the rest.
By now, people should understand that there is no Big Brother, somebody to validate their every move, approves them, and tell them they are on the right path. It's an imagination.
Besides, the vast majority of the Earth's population are dreaming with their eyes wide open. Instead of living for a purpose, they live based on what's comes to them. If you're life is performative, who needs an audience?
With the current Ukraine crisis, we know that this didn't happen overnight. Many years of hostility preceded this and both sides are guilty of violating the trust and blatantly eroding any civilized manner of diplomacy. The road to peace is littered with good intentions but bad consequences.
Independent thinking is a breath of fresh air in an environment where conformity is more favored than an inquisitive mind. Standing up against the mob is an active protest in itself. But you need a better strategy than just a moral action.
Whether you're in the Board room or in your shop or working in the on-purpose sector, becoming different is not pushing hard on certain agenda or being rough on others. It means standing for your values and principles, standing up for your organizational values, and standing up for purpose-driven impact. The consequences of doing these actions can be great but being compliant without understanding has dreadful effects too. Know what you are capable of doing. Act with integrity.
That's the way to making a difference in your cubicle (or home-office).
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There's no denying that what we are seeing in Ukraine is the unleashing of brute force by the very few who thinks that they can subvert the modern world order without consequences. Here again, we see that the West and rest have combined forces again in a matter of days. Unprecedented.
But the best thing I see in this first online war was the power of ordinary individuals in full force. From donating online, going to the war zone as a choice, buying Ukrainian products, crowdfunding, fighting disinformation, fact-checking propaganda, reserving AirBNB, donating crypto, among others, these activities are decisive.
There are no limits to what ordinary Canadians and citizens of other states can do to support a country in great need. My book on global impact leadership focuses on the role of individuals, not institutions, in transforming their communities and acting based their values and principles.
I have no doubt that a hyper-globalized and interconnected world, normative forces usually enforced by states and institutions are no longer their purview. As more and more individuals are connected on a grand scale, they can not just vote, but take up moral stances and register their voices without leaving their homes. Before mobilizing for a cause takes time. Now, you can build a pipeline system in a matter of hours or days.
The challenge for us is to differentiate rationality with demagoguery, popularity versus principled action. Not every time that you will stand with thousands. To make a difference, you need to be different.