So, how do we get our core values right? This question comes up a lot. First of all, you need to be clear that coming up with core values is not coming up with the values that you think you should have. The whole idea behind core values is to come up with the values that you authentically, deeply, passionately, really do have.
When Bill Hewlett and David Packard began HP, they didn’t begin by sitting down and saying, “Well, you know, we ought to have some core values here. Dave, what values do you think we should have on our list?”
“Well, I don’t know, Bill. I think integrity’s a good value.”
“Good, Dave. I agree with that. Let’s put integrity on the list, or respect for the individual.”
No. David Packard grew up in Pueblo, Colorado, and in high school he worked in a mine. They treated the workers in that mine so terribly that David Packard made a commitment that for the rest of his life he would never allow anything he was involved in to treat people that way. That didn’t come from some intellectual exercise of “What value should we have?” It came from deep inside his gut, born of experience and a sense of what is just right and wrong, what is just and what is not. Core values are passionate. Core values are not intellectual ideas.
Now, how might you discover your core values? And that’s the keyword: you don’t set core values; you discover your core values. On our website, you can go to the Building Your Company’s Vision section, and in there you will find the PDF files, which you can download for free, for the exercise that we call “The Mars Group.”
Now, here’s the way “The Mars Group” works. Take the, say, six or eight people in the company or in the organization that, if you were to try to recreate the best of your company on another planet, these are the eight people you would send. The slice of DNA. Whatever your values are, these people reflect those values. They hold them in their bellies. Now, to be clear, these aren’t the eight people that you want to send to Mars. These are the ones that you would use to recreate the best of you on Mars.
Use the PDF files of “The Mars Group” exercise as a way to capture the values that they bring with themselves into their work, the values they would carry with them wherever they went in their lives. And you find the intersection of the Mars Group people’s personal core values as a way to capture the true, authentic core values of your organization at its best.