Business Values Analogy

Real-time Strategic Planning Process

In past videos, workshops and blogs, I have discussed a real-time strategic business planning process. It starts with a business concept vision that is overlaid upon SWOT analysis and typical business areas like values, goals and constraints to arrive at a unified plan. Today, I would like to focus on that tough-to-define word…values. Instead of asking what are your company’s values, ask:

  • Why does your business exist?
  • Who do you service?
  • What is the benefit?

Values become clear because they are always about purpose. A clear value statement becomes an important part of brand messaging and even shows up in the business human resource philosophy. Be clear about who your customer is and what you are going to do for them and you can then begin to share those values with people. Let me use a historical analogy to explain the importance of values. What should your brand stand for: Professional; Reliable; Trustworthy; Fair; Well Managed; Good Quality; Good Value?

Please allow me to use an analogy to show the importance of values. Soon we will be remembering the cost of our country’s freedom values…they lie buried in the ground. As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, take time to think about how the founding values shaped this country. It all started just like any business…the founders derived a plan that was built around the three values they shared. Those values are highlighted on the quarter dollar image below and are on all American coins.

Race and ethnicity have defined every nation on earth except one: the United States of America. The USA is defined by its own values. So, to understand America, you have to understand American values. They are: 1. “E Pluribus Unum” 2. “Liberty” 3. “In God We Trust.”

The first, E Pluribus Unum, is Latin, meaning, “Out of many, one.” When first adopted as an American motto shortly after the American founding in 1776, it referred to the thirteen American colonies becoming one nation. Over time, however, most Americans understood the motto to mean one people from many backgrounds. To quote The E Pluribus Unum Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, “Over the years, E Pluribus Unum has also served as a reminder of America’s bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs.” In other words, America does not care about your national or ethnic origins. This explains why people who immigrate to America assimilate faster and more fully than immigrants to any other country. Most of those who have immigrated to Europe from, for example, Turkey – as millions have – are not considered fully German by fellow Germans or fully Swedish by fellow Swedes or fully Spanish by fellow Spaniards. This is even true of the children and grandchildren of those immigrants. Just as important, few of those immigrants – or their children or grandchildren – will ever feel fully German, Swedish, or Spanish. But a Turk who immigrates to the United States will be regarded as fully American – as American as any other American – the moment he or she becomes a citizen. And they – and certainly their children – will feel fully American. Of course, America has not always lived up to this “e pluribus unum” ideal. But the ideal/value was always there. And it was applied to virtually every immigrant to America. 

The second American value is liberty. Now, you might ask, “Didn’t the French Revolution also enshrine liberty as a central national value? Wasn’t its motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”? The answer is yes. America is hardly the only country to enshrine liberty…it is the only country to enshrine “Liberty,” “E Pluribus Unum,” and “In God We Trust.” What is the difference? The difference is this: The moment you affirm equality, as the French Revolution did, you will lose liberty. Liberty is a basic American value that all human beings are born equal, and all must be equal before the law. But ending up equal – that’s a French and European value. And if you want people to end up equal, you must deprive them of liberty. Which is exactly what happened right after the French Revolution and in every other society that made equality its national goal. America gives people the liberty to end up wherever their abilities, work ethic, and luck take them – meaning unequal. Therefore, professional athletes make more money than teachers or doctors. That may be unfortunate, but that is what liberty allows. If you want equality, you will tell people how much they can earn – and that means the end of liberty. 

The third value is In God We Trust. Unlike almost every other country, America never had a state religion. But it wasfounded on the principle that God is the source of moral values. As the Declaration of Independence put it, all people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In other words, rights come from God, not from men. If rights are given by men, men can take them away.

American isn’t a skin tone. It’s an ideology…a brand. It’s a mental state. It’s knowing what your freedoms are and defending those freedoms, not just for yourself but for everyone else. Your’ll find the cost of freedom buried in the ground. American values are the reason this country became the world’s freest and most prosperous country. They provide the framework for small business success.

SUMMARY

Values provide the basis for business brand communication to employees and customers. They allow everyone to know what is important to the business.  Small businesses need to critically think about their company values and their importance when developing real-time business strategic plans. This is especially true as the economy starts to pick back up after the pandemic.  Can you clearly state your business’ values and how they affect your employees and customers? Can you answer these questions:

  • Why does your business exist?
  • Who do you service?
  • What is the benefit?

For more thoughts on business values and the real-time strategic business planning process, view the video entitled Business Plan Development session 1.

Copyright ©John Trenary 2022

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