Do you remember when you were a kid and you wanted your first bike? You probably saw it everywhere you went, and it seemed like every kid had it except you? And it was all you could think about. We may have matured a bit since then but it’s the same with anything we place in priority in our minds today, the focus and attention to the thought causes it to expand.
This expansion effect can be in our favor or serve to our disadvantage.
One area this it proven true over and over again is in one’s values.
Do you have values? Personal values for your own life? Maybe you have value with your company?
Values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They should determine your priorities and core responses to any decision during good or bad times.
Many companies have values and sometimes, unfortunately, they are just words on a website or a wall in the corporate office. They are not in focus and therefore do not expand. This becomes most clear in times of crisis as true character is often revealed.
On the contrary, when a company and their people really know their values and live them every day, decisions are made easy at every level of the company. This includes decisions made in good times and bad times, including and most importantly, during a crisis.
My first career role was with Federal Express, later renamed FedEx. I learned early that “every package is the golden package” and their slogan that many still associate with them today is “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” was very popular. Everyone knew these and it served in everyone’s daily performance. Later in my time with FedEx, the adopted the Purple Promise “I will make every FedEx experience outstanding”. Seven simple words that define their value, what is most important to them. It creates a since of ownership at every level that if they do their part, every customer experience with any service FedEx offers will be outstanding. This places the customer clearly first. In times of crisis, everyone knows these seven words and making decisions comes easy as the answer to any question is viewed through the purple promise. It makes the decision process easy especially during a crisis.
I spent time recently with Amazon as a global leader of process engineering and continuous improvement. Like FedEx, Amazon knows its values. They call them leadership principles. There are 14 and everyone lives and breathes these every day. They have become a part of the core fabric in every leader and associate. They start with them, work with them and end the day with them. I connected deeply with many and one I like best is Customer Obsession. It states “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.” This puts the customer at the forefront of everything they do and in the answer to every question or potential change in operation.
With these strong values present in everyone at both FedEx and Amazon, decisions are made easy, especially during a crisis. Both companies have played critical roles in this current crisis and they have been able to react quickly, pivoting to address global needs and direct the team successfully towards putting the customer first.
Business will always follow values if they are kept front of mind and in focus.
What words define your values?
What will you do to ensure your values are on point with your vision, mission and in the front of you mind and the minds of you team?
In a crisis, unexpected events occur. We may have created incredible business continuity plans covering everything from political disruptions to natural disaster recoveries and yet surprises always surface with no planned playbook response. COVID-19 has certainly proven that.
I close with the famous serenity prayer.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” - Reinhold Niebuhr
With strong values that are front of mind, you can focus on what you can control, expanding favor!
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