This time of year has been one of reflection for people all over the world. In Australia, we had an Easter holiday break of four days to encourage rest, reflection and celebration.
One of the greatest movies ever made
Over the Easter break, I treated myself to one of my all-time favourite movies. I still remember the first time I saw this three and half hour epic over 60 years ago when it was nominated for 7 Academy Awards. Some of its special effects are still regarded as the finest in cinematic history, No, it's not Star Wars (though that's also one of my favourites). I'm talking about The 10 Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, the dramatised story of Moses and how he came into possession of the 10 values that shaped much of Western civilisation for over 3,000 years. Now that's what you could call some heavy-hitting values!
Values are the things that are of fundamental importance to us, and that we can use to guide our decisions. In recent years, encouraged by consultants who want to see some sort of ethical soul preserved in businesses (yes, I am one of them) CEOs are encouraged to sign off on a set of corporate values designed to guide the focus and behaviour of their teams. Unfortunately, this is often treated as a tick-the-box exercise. However, a carefully crafted set of values can be a powerful force in keeping a business' culture on track.
Mission to Mars
Jim Collins, who wrote the epic Good to Great, recommends a process called Mission to Mars for setting your core values. This involves thinking about the very best people in the history of your business who you would be happy to represent you on a mission to Mars. What are the values and qualities these people have in common that would make you proud to say, "This is who we are!"
I used this process years ago to create FRI's values and recently revisited the list to freshen it up. The test of a good set of values is they should make your top leadership and the people who really care about your business feel clearer and inspired when they read them. And just as importantly, it should cause them to feel deeply disturbed if they see people not practising or undermining these values.
Our MASTERY values
As you are reading this, you have probably had some contact with our business so I thought I'd share our refreshed values with you, which appropriately spell MASTERY. And yes, when I write these I do feel a little clearer and inspired.
Make a difference by speaking up and trying to improve situations. This is something we expect from our team in all situations, whether it's participating in a meeting, attending a conference or contributing to a committee.
Adopt the artisan’s eye by striving for simplicity and elegance in all you produce. We are fussy about what we write, what we say and how we present our work to others. We want to be known for excellence.
Show a genuine interest in others by listening actively to their needs. To us, clients are people first and businesses second. We want to understand who you are and what's important to you.
Take care of yourself by remaining optimistic and protecting your energy. While we work hard and often put in long hours, we also appreciate that we'll never bring about a positive change if we allow ourselves to get sick or burnt out.
Employ good judgement by thinking things through and holding strong opinions loosely. As thought leaders and trusted advisers, we need to provide sound, well-informed opinions, shaped by the best evidence available.
Reach out to others and proactively collaborate to create better outcomes. Our best work has always come from working collaboratively with clients, academics, colleagues, industry associations, and even competitors.
Yen for knowledge and seek opportunities to improve yourself and the standard of your work. The word 'Yen' means a yearning for something. As a knowledge business, we need to be constantly reading, watching and listening for ideas to stay fresh and growing. What are the values that guide you and your business? What inspires you to keep going when things get tough? Cecil B. DeMille, who directed the Ten Commandments, was so proud of his movie, he personally introduced it on screen when it was first released. If you have two minutes to watch this clip you'll see him introducing his masterpiece. You may also find the message he shares is particularly relevant to the challenges we face today in many parts of the world.
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