Note: Refreshing intentional values is a key part of the culture journey. This is NOT a 1980’s re-do activity. It’s much more meaningful. This connects with last week’s blog.
The Challenge: Going deep on refreshing our values is hard work. The chair of a board I’m on and I exchanged emails on that very matter recently. Enlightened board members get it and govern accordingly. A values “check in” challenges us to the core if we’re serious about the exploration. As we undertook this initiative when I was Chief People Officer, our CEO was the lead investigator. We visited other advanced companies, learned what values they framed, why they did so, and how they were implemented. It was a rigorous focus that took several months. It was business, not fluff!
What We Can Do About It: It is definitely beneficial to visit other companies. Although, if we’re not careful, it can become a thesaurus exercise. In this spirit, I strongly suggest also looking beyond the boundaries of commercial enterprises. For example, in my geographical area there is much to learn from thousands of years of wisdom from the First Nations Cree. The Cree way, wahkôhtowin, is described as the safe path leading to healthy and balanced relationships between all of us, through what the elders describe as the Seven Sacred teachings. These are sometimes referred to as the Seven Grandfather teachings. These lessons are foundational to Cree traditions and in the heart of most Indigenous People in Canada. The seven sacred values are:
1. Peyak: Respect.
2. Nîso: Courage.
3. Nisto: Truth.
4. Newo: Honesty.
5. Nîyânan: Wisdom.
6. Nikotwâsik: Love.
7. Tepakohp: Humility.
If one digs into the narrative of each of these Cree values, it is profound. While I’m a proponent of building a unique recipe of values particular to each company, I would happily exchange uniqueness to conformity if each workplace adopted these. They are based on so much historical wisdom AND the Cree present them as an interconnected system. Hence we are all related through these seven teachings! How profoundly cool is that?
Wahkôhtowin… Think Big, Start Small, Act Now!
One Millennial View: We often turn to history for present guidance and wisdom. It’s great to recognize that values like the seven listed above are still available for us to encourage, share and be interconnected with. While companies fight to become as modern as possible, sometimes foundations should be built on something ancient.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis