I’ve had the opportunity to review dozens of business values from different companies. Most use only single-word values, like:

  • Accountability
  • Honesty
  • Quality
  • Teamwork
  • Communication

Nothing wrong with the intent. It is just that single-word values are difficult to practice because they are subjective and lack clarity. Single-word values may be beneficial in describing “do-nots”, but not very effective with “to-dos.”

Values are more powerful when they are specific and actionable.

Here is an example from a former client – and one of my favorites.

“Never make a customer wait or wonder.”

What makes it so good? There is nothing vague about it. It embodies customer service, accountability, promptness, and communication and expresses it as an instruction.

Actionable values are easier to understand and, therefore, simpler to align around.

Furthermore, your organization’s brand conveys your values—the more precise the values, the stronger the brand.

Here’s another set of values. See if you can figure out the company to whom they belong.

  • We sell the highest quality natural and organic foods
  • We satisfy and delight our customers
  • We promote team member growth and happiness
  • We practice win-win partnerships with our suppliers
  • We create profits and prosperity
  • We care about our community and the environment

These are the corporate values for Whole Foods. I’m sure it didn’t surprise you and is true to your experiences with them as a customer, employee, or stakeholder.

Make your corporate values specific and actionable. It will also be crucial to defining your culture—more about that next time.

If you’d like to talk about this more, click here to set up a time to speak.



“It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are”

–Roy E. Disney


Leave a Comment