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Bridging the Values Gap

Book Description

Business has a values problem. It's not just spectacular public scandals like Enron (which, incidentally, had a great corporate values statement). Many companies fail to live up to the standards they set for themselves, alienating the public and leaving employees cynical and disengaged—resulting in lower productivity, less innovation, and sometimes outright corruption. The reason, argue top scholars and consultants Edward Freeman and Ellen Auster, is that most companies' values are handed down from on high, with no employee input or discussion. This practically invites disconnects between intention and reality. To bridge this values gap, Freeman and Auster provide a process, Values through Conversation, that focuses on four key types of values: introspective (reflecting on who we are and how we do things), historical (understanding our past and how it influences us), relational (asking how we can best work together), and aspirational (articulating our hopes and dreams). By developing values through discussions—casual or formal, one-on-one or in groups—VTC ensures that they are dynamic and evolving, not static words on a wall or a website. Freeman and Auster offer advice, real-world examples, and sample questions to help you create values that are authentic and embraced because they are rooted in the lived experience of the organization.