22 Apr Beliefs & Values
A belief is what is true – a value is what is important.
The cognitive components of the organisation are seldom explored in sufficient depth and yet often reveal most about the organisational ‘health’ or ‘sickness’.
Beckhardt for example in his technique of policy formulation starts from a viewpoint of getting people in the organisation to describe the behaviours in critical incidents, then formulates definitions of the values of the organisation that are determining its real policies.
For example, the company’s ‘said’ value is ‘we are open in all communications with each other’. However, exploration of sample, critical transactions reformulates the value to ‘we are open in all communications with each other so long as a senior manager is not present’. So, the real or done value within the organisation becomes, ‘it is OK to be open with each other without the presence of a member of the senior management team’.
The process of confronting people with the difference between their said and done values is in my view not invested in enough. Attitude surveys seldom dig to this level of meaning, as the deeper meaning (the cause not the effect) lies in getting into real dialogues, around values and beliefs.
The principle I remember from values clarification work is ‘a value isn’t worth having unless it is publicly expressed and consistently acted upon.’ Having strong differences between our values and our real/done actions is postulated as the cause of personal, team and organisational neuroses.
So, as I find in my work when carrying out ‘health checks’ on organisations some of the greatest change comes from investment in clarifying the values and what they really mean to the organisation and how they permeate through and distort (or strengthen) their ways of operating.