Have You Established the Core Values of Business?

What are your business’ core values?  If you’re looking for a definition, core values are your fundamental beliefs, and all successful companies have them and incorporate them into their company culture.  Why is this important? Because when you grow your business significantly, you don’t want to lose those aspects that helped make you successful! Think about some of the superstar companies who customers love: Amazon, Google, Zappos.  Let’s break down their core values.

Core Values
Photo Credit: Duncan Andison

Amazon’s Core Values (their “Leadership Principles”):

  1. Customer Obsession (Leaders should obsess over customers.)
  2. Ownership (Leaders acting on behalf of the whole company, not just the team.)
  3. Invent and Simplify (Leaders expect innovation from their team.)
  4. Are Right, A Lot (Seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.)
  5. Hire and Develop the Best
  6. Insist on the Highest Standards
  7. Think Big
  8. Bias for Action (Speed matters, and many decisions are reversible.  Engage in calculated risk-taking.)
  9. Frugality (Accomplish more with less.)
  10. Learn and Be Curious (Continuous learning is vital.)
  11. Earn Trust
  12. Dive Deep (Dig into the data.)
  13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit (Challenge decisions when they disagree.)
  14. Deliver Results

You can clearly see Amazon’s business strategies in their Leadership Principles.  They expect big things from their leadership team.  They offer some autonomy, and push their leaders to constantly learn, dig deeply, and deliver results.

Google’s Core Values (their “Philosophy”):

  1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.
  2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
  3. Fast is better than slow.
  4. Democracy on the web works.
  5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
  6. You can make money without doing evil.
  7. There’s always more information out there.
  8. The need for information crosses all borders.
  9. You can be serious without a suit.
  10. Great just isn’t good enough.

Google pride themselves on providing knowledge to their customers, innovating, and continuous improvement.  As an example of this continuous improvement, the Google Search Engine Optimization algorithm (the tool they use to rank search results) is rumored to change roughly 500-600 times per year (approximately 1.5 times per day).

Zappo’s Core Values:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

Zappos, like Amazon, is obsessed with providing the best customer service.  If you’ve never read some of the stories of their over-the-top dedication to their customers, give them a read.

So, what about your company? What is it that drives you forward? How do you want the world to see you? Do you want to be known as continuous innovators, or customer-service champions? What about internally? Do you want to encourage autonomous action? Are you frugal? Do you spare no expense?
In short, define who you are (or who you want to be), then break those principles into easily-explainable bullet points. Ten to fifteen points should be enough to encompass everything.

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