7 Steps To Developing Principles, Values And Premises

Dr. Purushothaman
December 13, 2013

Why can’t people just do the right thing? I sometimes feel like I am babysitting!”

“Our new initiatives seem to come off as the flavor of the month and they don’t stick. What do I need to do to make people realize we are serious?”

These are common laments I hear from corporate executives before we start to work with their organization. They want to know, “How do I get people to just KNOW what they are supposed to do?”

There are four questions I ask these executives and I will tell you every time the answer is some version of, “what do you mean? Isn’t that covered in our mission and vision statement?”

And my answer is, “NO. They are not even close to the same thing.”

You see a mission and vision statement share what the organization is about, what you do and what you offer. Guiding principles and values are how you THINK in order to DO what you need to do to fulfill the mission and vision statement. They come first.

One of the most critical things that you can do in your organization is to ensure that you have principles and values that every person in your organization knows in their heart. Principles and values clearly tell people how do you expect them to interact, what attitude you expect, and how to think independently.

The vast majority of organizations have a mission statement and vision statement but lack clear principles and values.

Let's first take principles and values and look at how you can build these in to your organization.

Here are the steps to writing your principles and values:

1.First, determine how you would like the customer to view your organization. This it becomes the foundation to look at how you make the client "feel" this message.
2.Second, determine how you would like your clients to describe you. For example in our organization we use the term "Lexus Mentality" to keep in mind that we always want to do things on the high end for our customers.
3.Third, determine the rhythm or atmosphere you would like to have in your office. Believe me, every office has a rhythm and atmosphere. You can either manage it and have it work for you or let it define itself and thus manage you.
4.Fourth, think about the discipline you would like to see people have every day. The mindset and behavior each person needs to exemplify should be listed in your principles and values.
5.Fifth, think about the long-term growth of the company and where you'd like to be positioned in the marketplace. You should have a principle or value that aligns with the future vision of the company. How do you want people to see you years from now?
Now you have the five steps for determining your principles and values. I recommend you think long and hard about these and have some critical key players as part of the discussion on what should be your guiding principles and values. This exercise when we take companies through it, is insightful about who you are and how you want to BE in order to accomplish your vision.

Your principles and values need to be ones that people can feel. They can’t just be logical and intellectual because emotion is what makes people act. If they can’t feel them, they can’t honor them. For example, in our company, one of our principles is "if it is to be, it is up to me-full accountability." We want to clearly convey to everyone the feeling behind a full accountability. We chose "Lexus Mentality" because everyone can picture what a Lexus car is like, what the drive is, and what commitment Lexus makes to its drivers. It becomes an easy tool to judge your behavior and choices on a daily basis. People can ask themselves, “is that how Lexus would send a package out?”

Now the last two steps concern premises. Premises are the foundations you use to make choices and to make decisions. Most corporations we find understand one layer of the premise but rarely understand the deeper guiding premise. The deeper guiding premise is the most important one and without understanding it, you can not execute projects properly.

There are two key steps in determining premises:

1.Determine the Primary Premise or Reasoning your decision or action. This is the most important thing you want this action to accomplish. Let’s say you are doing a mailing to clients. Your primary premise would be that you want to make a positive impression on your clients so they desire to grow their business with you.
2.Determine the Secondary Premise or Reasoning for this decision or action. Your secondary premise might be “how do we want them to receive this?” Now most corporations start with this one and often what they do actually blows the first premise out of the water.
Let me take the example that you are trying to make a positive “we add value” impact on clients so they do additional business with you. This is your Primary Premise.

Your Secondary Premise looks at “how will we do that?” So you come up with the idea to do a mailing that gives a discount to clients for weed service, a bundle package for lawn cutting, and another option of year-round lawn and snow service. You are so excited you get thousands of mailers made and mail them out only to get no response.

You see you forgot your first premise, which was to “add value” to your clients so they desire to do additional business with you. If you had focused on that one you would have realized you need to have ONE clear focus for the mailing and make it easy for your client’s to see how it will positively impact the results they currently get with you.

We find that once clients wrap their arms around the importance of principles, values and premises their businesses start to run smoother, productivity goes up around 30%, and departments break through silos to create more synergy.

These 7 simple steps for building your principles and values and setting your premises makes the difference in who you are, how your clients view you and how you do business day to day.

So what are YOUR guiding principles, values and premises?

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