In today’s business world, it’s not enough to set core values once and be done with them. One-and-dones are a thing of the past if you want to make them meaningful. More and more organisations need to co-labour with their teams and co-create their core values to reflect the company’s shift in goals, priorities, and growth over time.

Colabouring is really important for creating a culture that wants to develop creativity and values meaningful discussion. So how can organisations go about refreshing their core values every two or three years? Engaging in dialogic organisational development builds dialogue and reflection among the team through open-ended questions, team discussions and organisation-wide reflection. This approach helps create shared understanding, continually evolving values, and an inclusive and collaborative culture – transforming how organisations do business for the better (of course we would say that).

Let’s look at a story based on an Inc. Article: Companies Should Co-Create Their Core Values Every 2-3 Years. Here’s How (and Why)

A dialogue on dialogic organisational development

Person 1: Hi there, have you read the article about revising core values in companies every 2-3 years?

Person 2: Yes, I have. I really enjoyed it, it seems to come from a top-down approach. I prefer to view it through the lens of dialogic organisational development. In this approach, values are co-created and evolve through ongoing dialogue and collaboration.

Person 1: That’s an interesting point. Can you tell me more about how this approach works?

Person 2: Certainly. In a dialogic organisational development approach, the emphasis is on creating shared meaning and understanding through dialogue and collaboration. This includes co-creating values, which are seen as living principles that evolve through ongoing dialogue and reflection. It would have a view of organisations as being meaning-making systems and this helps to make meaning.

Person 1: So, how would an organisation co-create values this way?

Person 2: One way is to start with open-ended questions that encourage dialogue and reflection from the team. This might include questions such as “What is important to us as an organisation?” or “What kind of impact do we want to have on the world?” From there, the team can work together to develop a shared understanding of the organisation’s purpose and values.

Person 1: That sounds like a more inclusive and collaborative approach. But how would this work in practice?

Person 2: One way is to create opportunities for the team to come together in small groups or teams to explore these questions and engage in dialogue. These discussions can then be returned to the larger organisation for further reflection and refinement. The goal is to create a shared understanding of the company’s values that is co-created and owned by all the team. It would be best to view it in terms of culture being something that we do, not something that we have, this dialogue helps the team to know that they are listened to and that their voices matter… a lot.

Person 1: I see. And how would this approach to values impact the day-to-day operations of a company?

Person 2: It would mean that values are not seen as static principles or artefacts (that look great on a wall or on a website) but as living principles that guide the actions and decisions of all the team. When values are co-created and owned by the team, they become embedded in the culture of the company and guide day-to-day operations at all levels.

Person 1: That makes sense. And how would this approach impact the hiring process?

Person 2: When values are co-created and owned by all the team, they become a crucial criterion for hiring. This means new team members are hired for their skills and alignment with the organisation’s values and culture or better still as adding to the culture.

Person 1: Thank you for sharing this perspective. It’s a helpful reminder that values are not just static principles but are co-created and owned by all the team. This can create a more inclusive and collaborative culture where values guide day-to-day operations and the hiring process.

We often think of core values as something that can be set and forgotten, but this fails to do them justice. Core values should be alive, ever-evolving, and shaped by dialogue and collaboration between the team. This dialogic organisational development approach encourages a culture of openness, creativity and inclusion, enabling businesses to become more dynamic and purposeful in their work. Organisations need to stay true to their values to thrive in today’s ever-changing business world, they are after all your North or Southern Star that you should be navigating all your decisions by.

Want some help to make this happen in your business? Let’s chat.

I want help setting our core values. Let’s chat!