By Tom Ambler, Senior Consultant

Strategic Planning Expert

Strategic Planning Expert

Note:  This article is part of a series taken from Thomas E. Ambler’s article The Strategic Value of  Values originally published in Compass Points in April 2002.  In Part 1, we introduced the series.  In Part 2, we discussed Values’ Value.  In Part 3, we discussed Market Value.  In Part 4, we discussed Internal Value.  In Part 5, we discussed Defining Your Values.  In this final post we will discuss the Alignment of Values Within The Organization.

Alignment of Values Within The Organization

Dr. Deming contends that quality, the result, is a function of quality, the process. The same can be said about Values. Essentially the same principles and processes for aligning Values within your organization apply where major changes are required as where you are simply trying to sustain your Values at a high level. Interestingly, the process for changing Values involves the same steps as farming.

Preparing the soil
If followers are expected to accept new Values, they must be the Values that their leaders model with authenticity and passion over an extended period of time. Establishing the soul of an organization demands that top management set the tone by being real, Values-driven people. Cultural change percolates down through an organization and that takes time and patience.

An organization changes one person at a time. The process must, then, be individually tailored to permit leaders to discover and deal with each person’s specific Values conflicts.

Do a mini-version of G.E.’s Crotonville Management Development Institute, which indoctrinated 10,000 managers per year and changed the culture of a huge, staid corporation in just a few years. Jack Welch made this change a personal priority with bi-weekly, eyeball-to-eyeball contact with individual managers attending the Institute. (Refer to Control Your Own Destiny, by Tichy and Sherman.)

Hire the “brightest and best,” where “best” deals with character and “Values fit”. This is particularly desirable when Values are threatened by the cultural dilution that accompanies rapid growth.

Fertilizing and Cultivating
Celebrate frequently your progress in making the change.

Don’t confuse conforming behavior for the real thing–shared Values. Make certain that your processes/policies/procedures reflect your Values and promote peer accountability.

Promote from within whenever possible – it motivates performance and preserves culture.

Borrow from Jack Welch:

  • “Believe that corporate cultures will change in response to clearly articulated ideas – if the ideas are endlessly repeated and backed by consistent action.”
  • Hold “town meetings” with employees to establish direct communication and information flow.
  • Systematically weed out the poorest 10% every year.

Look for your harvest. Continually build on initial harvests. Enjoy the fruit of your harvest, but be sure to save some of it as next year’s seed.

Feel great satisfaction–you have accomplished a noble purpose. You have confirmed the Old Quaker adage, “Thee can do well by doing good.”

So remember, your Values have Strategic Value far too great to permit them to be taken for granted and drift along in the background. Force them to the forefront, establish them and commit the energy and resources to keep them there. Reap the benefits!


For information on how to take your strategic planning to the next level, please listen to our webinar: Why Isn’t My Strategic Planning Working?

© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Tom Ambler is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at

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