Millions of dollars are spent each year on well-intentioned strategic consultants that help companies articulate their “Core Values” in connection with setting a strategic vision or a plan for growth. While it might not seem like it at the time, defining a company’s core values is actually the easy part. The leaders get together, discuss what is important to them, their employees, their customers, etc., and then they agree upon a set of values on which they will grow the company. Maybe those Core Values even make it onto a poster or a laminated card that sits on each employee’s desk. Unfortunately, that’s where most Core Values end.

As we see it, in order to be truly effective, Core Values must be a set of principles that are non-negotiable. These principles are fundamental to everything your company stands for and everything you do. They’re so central to your company’s purpose that you would terminate an employee for violating them and you would be willing to stake the future of your company on defending them. In order to produce alignment of people and purpose, Core Values must become part of the company DNA and integral to the daily life of the business. Culture (another popular buzz word) begins with Core Values, and without clearly defined and deeply ingrained core values, a company will have no culture (or worse – weak culture)!