Why are a defined set of core values so critical to your business? There is a hidden driver to your strategy.

Just like good compound interest on money the right core values create incremental returns that accelerate exponentially over time, yielding a staggering ROI. The key word here is “right” because the wrong values can be at minimum ineffectual and at maximum, disastrous to your business. Here is the real reason why the right core values are a necessity – heuristics.

The term heuristics means “rules of thumb” or “mental shortcuts” and is one of the most valuable ways people apply learning and experience to their daily decision-making. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these decisions are made subconsciously and may conflict with your company’s priorities. When you consider aligning the activities in your company it is common to think of strategic goals and execute tactical initiatives to achieve your aims. However, heuristics are an oft overlooked component of the full triumvirate of strategy, tactics, and heuristics.

Heuristics have become a more prominent driver of your company’s strategy and tactics over the years because the modern world has become increasingly complex and is moving faster and faster and faster. Since human beings are biologically hardwired to conserve energy, especially mental energy, they rely more and more on these default rules of thumb to alleviate the stress of conscious deliberation. This shortcutting includes how team members make their decisions about your business. Employees build these rules of thumb when there are not specific written procedures or there is ambiguity about what management really wants at any given moment.

By the Numbers 

Depending on who’s research you read the average person makes between 3,000-35,000 decisions per day (yes, you read that right 35k decisions a day). The bulk of these decisions are made subconsciously, based on what that person believes to be true about their current context and past experiences with that or a similar context. If we take the most conservative estimate of 3,000 and assume only a minimal 10% of those decisions are work related, we arrive at each employee making 300 subconscious decisions about your business every working day.

These mental shortcuts show up in various ways across all activities in your company from things like word usage in a textual response, conversational attitude with your customer, dealing with a defective product, quality of service provided, contribution to a collaboration, choice of priority to complete, and just generally the care with which employees do every task in your business. If you do the math, you will quickly see how heuristics drive tactics and strategy. You may have five strategic goals for your company and maybe you are executing on twenty-five tactical initiatives across your departments or teams. But you have 300 decisions x # of employees x 250 workdays equaling 75,000N incremental actions having a compounding effect on your annual results. Misalignment can be chaotic, disabling, or catastrophic.

Exponential ROI 

Core values are the most powerful way to align these myriad micro-activities in order to positively leverage their exponential momentum for your ROI. Core values define the context and provide the foundation on which all these mental shortcuts get built or revised by your team members. It is almost impossible to align these heuristics in any other way than to live and reinforce your company core values. A few quick tips to get this critical piece right, follow.

  • Develop your core values based on principles that will resonate from the front office to the front line. Write them in such a way they mimic the tone and sentiment of your organization and will align efforts toward your overarching purpose for the company. The leadership team, from the CEO to individual supervisors, must embody these values both leading by example and holding others accountable when they stray.


  • Be sure your hiring practices include screening for these values so as to minimize the need for constant correction of team members.


  • When possible, standardize the core values in operating procedures, recognition systems, mores and artifacts of the company. These elements will serve as constant reminders of what behaviors your organization values.


Once you follow these simple methods of applying your core values you will reap the benefits of the momentum generated. One last suggestion for maximum effect, teach your employees the fundamentals of this article, the reason you place such high importance on living your core values, and how those values will lead to your ultimate success!


If you’re interested in learning more about how a Coach can help your business achieve exponential growth, please contact our team at align5 by clicking here. Or please take our Free Growth Assessment, which will evaluate the strength of your company based on four core business disciplines that must be in place before scaling successfully – People, Strategy, Execution and Cash.

Find us on Linkedin & Facebook with on-going content and resources to help you throughout your entrepreneurial journey.