“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” — Henry David Thoreau
Values are the ultimate lightening-rod. They bring people together, or divide them apart.
If you don’t get how much values shape a company, from the people they hire to the people they fire, check out Video interview with Simon Sinek about the Golden Circle.
When you do great work that makes your soul sing, it’s usually because you have a strong values alignment. When you combine values with a clear vision, and a powerful mission, it’s the ultimate key to unlocking greatness, in yourself, others, and the company or arena you’re in.
Here is a sampling of values from some companies you’ve probably heard of. You’ll notice some patterns across, but you’ll also notice some distinctions. It’s the distinctions that can tell you things like whether a company is innovation-centric, or social-centric, or consumer-centric, or information-centric, etc.
Here are the Microsoft values:
As a company, and as individuals, we value integrity, honesty, openness, personal excellence, constructive self-criticism, continual self-improvement, and mutual respect. We are committed to our customers and partners and have a passion for technology. We take on big challenges, and pride ourselves on seeing them through. We hold ourselves accountable to our customers, shareholders, partners, and employees by honoring our commitments, providing results, and striving for the highest quality.
Here are the Amazon Leadership Principles:
- Customer Obsession. Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
- Ownership. Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job."
- Invent and Simplify. Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here." As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
- Are Right, A Lot. Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts.
- Hire and Develop the Best. Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others.
- Insist on the Highest Standards. Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
- Think Big. Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.
- Bias for Action. Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
- Frugality. We try not to spend money on things that don’t matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.
- Vocally Self Critical. Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. Leaders come forward with problems or information, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
- Earn Trust of Others. Leaders are sincerely open-minded, genuinely listen, and are willing to examine their strongest convictions with humility.
- Dive Deep. Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, and audit frequently. No task is beneath them.
- Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit. Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
- Deliver Results. Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.
Here are the Google Values:
- Focus on the user and all else will follow.
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
- Fast is better than slow.
- Democracy on the web works.
- You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
- You can make money without doing evil.
- There’s always more information out there.
- The need for information crosses all borders.
- You can be serious without a suit.
- Great just isn’t good enough.
Here are Apple’s Core Values according to CEO Tim Cook:
- We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
- We believe in the simple, not the complex.
- We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
- We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
- We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
- We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
- We don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
And here are the Apple Values in the Apple Employee Handbook, circa 1993:
Apple Values are the qualities, customs, standards, and principles that the company believes will help it and its employees succeed. They are the basis for what we do and how we do it. Taken together, they identify Apple as a unique company.
These are the values that govern our business conduct:
- Empathy for Customers/Users. We offer superior products that fill real needs and provide lasting value. We deal fairly with competitors and meet customers and vendors more than halfway. We are genuinely interested in solving customer problems, and we will not compromise our ethics or integrity in the name of profit.
- Aggressiveness/Achievement. We set aggressive goals and drive ourselves hard to achieve them. We recognize that this is a unique time, when our products will change the way people work and live. It is an adventure, and we are in it together.
- Positive Social Contribution. We build products that extend human capability, freeing people from drudgery and helping them achieve more than they could alone. But beyond that, we expect to make this world a better place to live. As a corporate citizen, we wish to be an economic, intellectual, and social asset in communities where we operate.
- Innovation/Vision. We built our company on innovation, providing products that were new and needed. We accept the risks inherent in following our vision, and work to develop leadership products that command the profit margins we strive for.
- Individual Performance. We expect individual commitment and performance above the standard for our industry. Only thus will we make the profits that permit us to seek our other corporate objectives. Each employee can and must make a difference. In the final analysis, individuals determine the character and strength of Apple.
- Team Spirit. Teamwork is essential to Apple’s success, for the job is too big to be done by one person. Individuals are encouraged to interact with all levels of management, sharing ideas and suggestions to improve Apple’s effectiveness and quality of life. It takes all of us to win. We support each other and share the victories and rewards together. We are enthusiastic about what we do.
- Quality/Excellence. We care about what we do. We build into Apple products a level of quality, performance, and value that will earn the respect and loyalty of our customers. At Apple, quality management is critical to our continued success.
- Individual Reward. We recognize each person’s contribution to Apple’s success, and we share the financial rewards that flow from high performance. We recognize also that rewards must be psychological as well as financial, and we strive for an atmosphere where each individual can share the adventure and excitement of working at Apple.
- Good Management The attitudes and behaviors of managers toward their people are of primary importance. Employees should be able to trust the motives and integrity of their supervisors. It is the responsibility of management to create a productive environment where Apple Values flourish.
Here are the 5 Facebook Values:
- Focus on Impact. If we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but we think most companies do this poorly and waste a lot of time. We expect everyone at Facebook to be good at finding the biggest problems to work on.
- Move Fast. Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.
- Be Bold. Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.
- Be Open. We believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact. That goes for running our company as well. We work hard to make sure everyone at Facebook has access to as much information as possible about every part of the company so they can make the best decisions and have the greatest impact.
- Build Social Value. Once again, Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do.
Here are IBM’s Values (as determined by 319,000 IBMers around the world that engaged in an open "values jam" on IBM’s global intranet):
- Dedication to every client’s success
- Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
- Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships
Keep in mind, the fastest way to know the values is to know the leader, since values flow down (and people tend to hire people like themselves.) Also, remember that values are not what you say, but what you do, since actions speak louder than words.