We’ll begin with the first two questions – “what do we believe to be true?” and “what’s important to us?” The answers are foundational and should never change, though they can occasionally be updated for clarity’s sake. The answers are the underpinnings for the other four questions. And like any good foundation, they need to be protected from any form of compromise.
Question 1: What do we believe to be true?
Typically religious organizations have a statement of faith or a confession that answers “what do we believe to be true?” drafted through blood, sweat and tears and then, unfortunately, ends up on the shelf somewhere. Yet in a world where truth seems to be like shifting sands, articulating what you believe can and should be integral to an organization’s DNA. There is not appropriate length to such a document; it depends entirely on what is held as true.
Even for non religious organizations I’ve come to believe that answering this question can be a unifying process and help provide clarity and alignment for the entire organization.
Question 2: What’s important to us?
Core Values, on the other hand, should be limited to 5 to 8 succinct and memorable statements that answer the question “what’s important to us”? They define what an organization should and shouldn’t do. Jim Collin says in Built to Last – “it is absolutely essential to not confuse core ideology with culture, strategy, tactics, operations, etc.” Core values transcend all these things while guiding their appropriate implementation. Refer to Built to Last for some examples.
With these two foundational questions answered an organization is ready to answer the next two questions – “Why do we exist?” and “What makes us distinct?” both of which we’ll look at in my next post.
To see SpringHill’s answers to the 6 Key Questions click here.