3 Steps to Lead with a Value Mindset

Value exists as a state of being not a state of doing. The driving of value must resonate across the organization and not just as a discussion that is left at the executive meeting. Often mission and vision statements become catchphrases that busy the walls of organizations. When they stay on the wall without translating into the daily work of every individual, value faces the fate of a painting left to be admired but not realized as a reality of each’s landscape. The key is in simplifying the experience of achieving value with every individual in the organization. This simplification involves 1) creating a value mindset, 2) asking the value question, and 3) creating a value framework.

As a coach, I often experience the complexities people create in driving decisions when their value is not clearly understood. Decisions are complicated with the addition of assumption and judgments. “We tried this before, and it didn’t work.” “What happens if we fail?” “We can afford to make a mistake.” While these statements are all true, they don’t speak of motivating and inspiring values from which others can drive results. Consider the two comments below:

We want to build a house for others

We want to provide shelter for others

Which statement motivates and inspires you? Let’s say you don’t know how to build a house, what is your motivation to do something with the first statement? What about the second statement? I would guess that with the second statement, there is something you can do without the knowledge of building a house. Value exists as a state of being. We are human beings, not human doings. Our values inspire and motivate us and give us a starting point. This the case for creating a value mindset.

As a leader, do you know what the values are for your organization, its strategies, and its projects? Even more relevant today, how do you translate those values into results? Consider a project status meeting. Most often, the status meeting consists of 1) What did you do last week, 2) What did you do this week, 3) What are the risks and issues with this project, 4) Are we in the red, yellow, or green? Of course, there are many variations of this. Consider, as a leader, coming to a status meeting and getting the answer to:

What value have we provided to our [members] [customers] [users] in [the last week][two weeks][month]?

Are you building a house for others, or are you building shelter? If you are building a shelter, are you asking the value question to your teams? Are you listening to and responding to the value successes and challenges of the team?

Finally, establishing a value framework requires the refinement of non-value type activities and artifacts. The creation of value brings confidence from the system of delivery. When the delivery system is asked to create additional non-value-add work to assure leadership, you overload the system and waste resources. Let’s take a look at the traditional vs. agile framework (from a value standpoint):

What framework will help us close the gap between value definition and realization?

I am not suggesting that agile is the only value delivery framework that works; however, I believe it is one that ensures the propagation of values to the results and outcomes. In a traditional model, people are accountable for the tasks they complete (is that house built on-time, on-budgets, in-scope). In the agile model, people are responsible for the value they create (how close are we to providing shelter? what needs to happen next to get us closer to giving shelter?).

Being valuable is critical for doing what is valuable. To do this, I urge leaders to consider creating a value mindset, asking value-oriented questions, and championing the implementation of a value-based delivery framework. Busy your walls with value statements that every individual can relate and speak to, concerning their daily work. Build shelters, not houses.