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Three steps for discovering (or re-discovering) your company values

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Company values are one of the most powerful tools a company has, guiding and focussing employees to make the right decisions and take the right actions for their business. And for this reason, every company, regardless of industry, size or country, needs to have the “right” company values.

In this blog I’ll share with you a three-step process l I developed and map out in detail in my DIY Values Toolkit to help companies discover their values for the first time or revisit existing ones. The process is called the “WTH Approach,” and includes these three steps:

  1. Put your values on the wall

  2. Invite your values to the table

  3. Bring your values home

“The journey to discover your true company values involves looking at what you already say, what you already do, what you already believe, and what you want and need to protect.” - taken from "Bringing Your Values Out to Play"

Step 1 - Put your values on the wall

This step is where you will begin your values discovery process, with the objective being to discover values that should be put up on the wall, meaning they are the ones that at first glance will help you deliver on your business and people objectives.

Don’t worry if you have a lot of potential values at the end of this step — it’s normal and will be helpful as you move onto the next step. Also, don’t get hung up on the specifics of the words right now, as later on in the process the values will be turned into suitable words that are right for your company and your culture.

Please note that in my toolkit I include values cards having sample values to help throughout the discovery exercise. If you don’t have the toolkit, you can use post its or something similar to capture your ideas.

Step 2 - Invite your values to the table

This step is where you will refine and prioritize the values into only those that deserve a seat at the table. These are ones that you just can’t walk away from as they are so critical to the life, health, and success of your company, and fully align with your objectives.

Here are a few things to keep in mind during this step:

  • "Permission to play” values. Some of the values you have come up with during step 1 may be considered what are called “permission to play” values, which means they are fundamental and essential, minimum standards of behavior, but don’t necessarily help differentiate you or help you achieve your objectives. Think of them like the air that you breathe, they’re important but they’re a given in how you live.

  • Don’t worry about the exact words/wording. Make the point again that you shouldn't get hung up on the words during this step, but the intent of the words.

  • Be selective. Be selective here, keeping in mind that there are only so many seats at the table, make the ones that you select count.

Step 3 - Bring your values home

This final step is where you will bring home the values that have been discovered up to this point, selecting your winning values and then putting these into your own words, infusing your own culture, personality, and tone of voice.

There are two parts to this step: 1. Selecting your winners, those that you decide should be your final values and 2. Making them your own, which is making them unique, relevant and meaningful to your business and your people.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. Should you want more information on my DIY Values Toolkit, you can click here.


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