There were about 10 members of this group. Their organisations
ranged from pharma, retail, local authority, charity and rail.
We started off by asking the this open question: Many organisations spend time creating Mission Statements, Visions, Company
Objectives, Capability Statements and guidelines for behaviours they
would like people to use in the workplace – even though these are all
different things (though often confused with each other ) – is there
a place for them in a project environment?
We got excellent feedback (you may want to check if it’s OK to use
the corporate names):
• Pharama had a new CEO who was instilling a different emphasis
into corporate strategies & had moved the Executive to the ground
floor to ease accessibility! However the old ways were still being
applied, so agendas got mixed sometimes.
• Bank was working to create a Team Working Culture as a
company objective and was using a balanced scorecard approach
which included adherence to company values in it. Personal
Assessments took this into account, so these values and their
adoption affected take-home pay in a real sense.
• Retail had a very simple but effective approach – the company
motto was ‘Better, Simpler, Cheaper’ (interestingly, retail person
knew this, though a quick straw poll of others revealed those with 8
or 9 ‘values’ could not remember them). Retail person also had a
culture of “… just get it done” and did not seem to have motivational
problems that affected project outcomes. It was pointed out that its projects tended to be short-
term compared with say pharma, where
clinical trials etc could extend a project to 10 years in some cases.
• The colleague from the charity felt that they were perhaps trying
to move more towards the retail model.
• The colleague from the Local Authority explained the process by
which the organisation’s values were disseminated through the
workforce, but she felt that there were too many (and could not
• University reported that there was an awareness that company
values were being used to try to drive or modify behaviours.
• At a large underground rail project in London, a consultant had
been engaged to attempt to ‘sell’ the Executive’s set of values to the wider staff through a series of seminars, and the values were
subsequently linked to staff appraisals. However some of the ‘values’
were in fact behaviours or capabilities, leading to some confusion.
Staff in general could not quote them, if asked.
• Many people had experience of the “Little Book” syndrome. This is
where the company executive decides (often through the use of an
external facilitator) what it considers the company’s Mission, Vision,
Values and Behaviours should be – and has them printed into a Little
Book, or has them prominently displayed in frames in the boardroom,
or on the intranet. Few colleagues considered this worked as a way
to motivate. It was felt that people had their own values & would not adopt external ones – some, for example “to provide effective
healthcare products” would probably be in employees’ personal lists
already, but “ to provide an excellent XXXX product that will delight
its customers” probably would not (even if anyone really knew what
All things considered, the general consensus was that organisations
tend to spend an awful lot of time and money creating these visions,
value sets etc, but they are in general not internalised by staff and
they rarely have a direct practical application to work practices,
except in cases where they were already part of peoples’ own values (such as treating others fairly).
It was also unclear whether they were of any practical use in driving
project effectiveness – perhaps leading one to conclude that perhaps specially-created project-specific values, behaviours etc may be
more appropriate than to try to press corporate ones into service.