April 2012

Values

It’s interesting to me that the word “values” shares the same root meaning (having worth and being strong) with the courage-honoring words “valor and valiant.”

In my eyes, personal values—the ideals and beliefs that people are willing to stand up and fight for—are as decisive in shaping lives as anything I can think of. And the question becomes: is that just as true for organizations?

We’ve certainly seen, across the economic and political landscape of our country, what happens when values get badly skewed or seem to drop out of the equation altogether. Pretty scary.

But when they are there, just how much of a difference do they make? Sometimes, you hear suggestions that they’re just a matter of lip-service…or window-dressing…especially compared to factors with an immediate, obvious impact on the bottom line.

Well, I happen to believe that institutional values are a core issue, and we take “pride” in our institutional PRIDE values: performance, respect, integrity, diversity, and excellence. At the end of the day, just as for an individual, they are what determine what we do and how we do it. And that is just as true when the issue at hand is a “detail” in the daily routine…as when it involves a momentous decision. 

Our commitment to quality, our ceaseless pursuit of excellence, our dedication to our mission—these are the principles that define us in the eyes of our patients…our students…our communities…and the wider world.   

I believe that what an organization stands for does—and should!—ultimately define its fate.