Built on Values – Inspiring a Values-Rich Organizational Culture — 4 Comments

  1. You are on the outside what you are on the inside—no debate.

    I agree with your views that “You can’t create a great customer service organization if you treat employees badly. You can’t force people to treat customers well when they feel ill-used themselves. Organizations that are best in customer service also treat their employees best. The service you provide for your customers will never be greater than the service you provide to your employees.

  2. Your comments prompted several observations for me:

    Your opening paragraph reminds me of the old saying: Values are caught, not taught. It brought to mind an experience in which leadership introduced a change initiative that quickly failed because the formal leaders routinely violated the very initiative they asked organizational members to embrace. Months later, the CEO complained about the initiative’s failure to a loyal and influential member of the organization, who replied, “We all looked around and your (formal) leaders were violating the initiative you had presented. We assumed you weren’t serious.” So leadership engagement is essential.

    It is also true that front-line people may not take on an organizational culture that reflects values that are contrary to the stated values, especially if doing so puts them at cross-purposes with the organization’s “lived values” or with the behavior of formal leaders. “Is Our Industrial Culture the Problem” discusses some of the reasons for this perspective (

    I agree with your suggestion that, by adopting improved values and “getting results”, teams can create culture change “when top leaders are not ready to buy in”. “Is Plant Management a Noble Endeavor?” ( contains a great example of how a plant manager in a high hazard industry did exactly this. However, this “second best” method is fraught with increased danger for those trying to drive the culture change and driving the culture change will be much more an uphill battle; “first best” requires the leaders to be on board.

    Finally, I really liked your third principle, “Success is doing the right things the right way.” Clarity is both essential and empowering, another idea that is discussed in “Is Plant Management a Noble Endeavor?” (

    • Carl,
      Thanks for your comments and for sharing the links. I cannot think of a better reason to instill an intentional culture than to prevent industrial accidents. It’s interesting that the Chemical Safety Board is now including examining organizational culture in it’s analysis. We have done it for JetBlue and Southwest who have some of the best safety records for airlines.
      It is Leaders who must drive the values through their own actions, values drive the behaviors, which become the culture, which leads to the best performance.

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