Good core values create a side-effect of easier decisions

I have spent entire weeks of my life in meetings choosing sides of a discussion, arguing semantics, listing out pros and cons, and defending positions. I imagine you have a similar experience.

One of the most interesting and valuable side-effects of clear core-values is their impact on decision making.

When I was at Zappos, so many decisions in meetings finally came to a head when someone was able to cite a core value that clearly justified one of the options.

This worked because it required the application of the core value to be so evidently true, that the vast majority of people agreed immediately without hesitation. In other words, it cannot be forced, and cannot be manipulated. It is not a ‘get out of jail free card’. It works when we are all mentally and psychologically able to buy into the decision, and move on to the next one.

If you haven’t written down your core values, you might want to spend some time on it. They already exist, and they are already shaping the culture of your business. So why not name them, and be intentional about allowing them to help drive your decisions.

Bonus hack: We usually create core values that are a sentence or two long. This is good becuase it allows us to *fully* express the nuances of what we believe. But, it is worth thinking about what the really short, quotable version of your core values would be as well. e.g. bellow is a quotable version of the full core values

  • Delight the Consumer
  • Be a partner
  • Create openness
  • Maintain highest standard
  • Lead by example, not just words
  • Be Aware
  • Earn the future
  • Encourage open communication
  • Empowered to do what’s right
  • Prefer agility and innovation

What are your core values?





2 responses to “Good core values create a side-effect of easier decisions”

  1. Scott Moore Avatar

    I learned this while working at We had impact goals that reflected the deeper values of the organization (rely on evidence-based resources, reduce the isolation parent feel, change attitudes towards learning difficulties, take action, etc.). There were also organizational values that did not pass through to the people being served such as the value of having employees gain new skills and knowledge or the sensitivity of having Schwab’s name attached to user-generated content and conversations.

    Many times, these guides policy, feature, and purchasing decisions even before discussions would happen. And they were also used as factors, especially when we had to juggle trade-offs of time, money, or quality.What I like here is that your core values are, for the most part, (qualitatively) measurable so not only can you make decisions based on core values, but you can follow up decisions with measurement to see if you should continue the path or consider alternatives.  

    1. thomasknoll Avatar

      I didn’t even notice that, but now that you said it, it is staring me in the face. Thank you @openid-141675:disqus !

Leave a Reply