Corporate Core Values-A Discussion with Govidha Jayaraman

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Corporate-Core-Values-A-Discussion“Either you have a corporate culture by design or by default,” states Govindh Jayaraman, business philosopher and serial entrepreneur. According to Govindh, the goal is to have a corporate culture by design that aligns all aspects of the company behind a set of common organizational values that are easy to articulate as well as rigorously applied and constantly nurtured.

The first thing to consider is whether or not you have definable corporate values and culture wrapped around those values. Does the actual way business is carried out reflect the defined cultural values? And this does not just apply to the C suite. At the front line where the company meets customer, are these values being observed? Indeed, along the entire spectrum of daily operations are the values recognizable by employees as well as customers? Being human beings, we have a tendency to see what we want to see and create subconscious bias. So, to find out what others perceive the corporate culture to be, we need to design an anonymous survey mechanism for employees and customers alike. Once data has been collected, management can get a better idea of what others see as corporate values as well as if they align throughout the organization. So, the first task is to discover what values and culture are actually out there and compare that to what is desired.

The Big Umbrella

Govindh goes on to explain that core corporate vales act like a large umbrella that covers a group of smaller umbrellas underneath the canopy. The smaller umbrellas are departments, silos, or other associated parts of the company. While each umbrella may have some slightly different approaches to how the core values and culture are implemented, the general overhanging corporate umbrella of values and culture are incorporated in each area of the company. For example, multinationals deal with varying social and cultural values in different markets but the core values need to be there. In the developing world, customer service and customer empathy is not as prevalent as in the more experienced consumer nations. However, every customer appreciates friendly and concerned interactions as well as quality and price. But in some cultures, empathy for consumers and fellow workers needs to be taught as fear and survival still dominate some working cultures.

Building and maintaining the corporate culture depends on some important “pillars.”

1. Organizational structures: Does the company have defined processes with clear responsibilities and measures of accountability? Do higher level managers need to devote a high percentage of their time to operational, reactive issues? Are there metrics that allow constant performance evaluations?

2. Empowerment and Effective Delegation: Are the right people in the right place? Are managers given enough freedom to adapt and innovate within a well define context of the corporate values and culture?

3. Communications: Are there fully functional channels of communication to help define, reinforce and support the values and culture of the corporation?

4. Do top level managers spend time monitoring and developing the corporate values and culture? CEOs and other top layers of management should be spending much of their time making sure that the company is performing as designed. This includes constant surveying and observations of customer behavior and trends, constantly promoting and supporting the corporate values and culture to customers as well as employees and taking proactive steps to constantly improve and innovate. Indeed, Govindh states that financials are important tools but they deal with history. He feels that more attention should be paid to real-time monitoring qualitative issues that help define the harmony between the company and its marketplace. Indeed, if the company has a well-designed organization and is constantly aware of how well it is executing its culture and values, the financials should support the designed outcomes.

“How often does a customer evaluate a company?” Govindh asks rhetorically. “Every transaction” is the answer. Today, there are new software programs that allow immediate surveying corporate performance via mobile platforms. A company now has access to almost immediate customer input that can be tracked and benchmarked. This information is invaluable to management not only for performance metrics but also for trend following and customer concerns. Govindh asks another similar rhetorical questions: “How often are teams evaluated?” Indeed, there are internal software applications that allow real time team self-evaluations. The message Govindh infers is: executives will need to pay more attention to gaining a deeper and more time sensitive knowledge of the customer wants and needs and how the organizational values and culture are aligning with those needs and wants. Indeed, to survive and prosper, companies will need to build a more personal relationship with their customers.

As Govindh has been involved in the business of sport teams, he likes to use the football team metaphor. First, you need to define the positions and find the right people to fill those positions. If a person can’t meet the requirements of the position, they are out and the team moves on. Next, the team needs a playbook and situational strategies. Then, the team needs to practice the plays and evaluate game films to look for ways to improve. Finally, the Coach and his staff need to inspire and cultivate the “team psyche” of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

In closing, Govindh parts with the following statement: “To be a successful company you need to know exactly who you are and what you want to accomplish. You need to be passionate about what you bring to the marketplace and ready to execute every single day.”

About the Author

Govindh JayaramanAn entrepreneur for over 13 years, Govindh Jayaraman has created a number of organizations, many of which are still in operation with some having been either acquired or purchased or amalgamated with other operations. He brings with him a wealth of first hand entrepreneurial experience from a wide variety of industries including real estate development, marketing and communications, sports and entertainment, international trade, retailing, alternative health and wellness, and high technology.
Most recently, Mr. Jayaraman co-founded Topia Energy Inc., a company that has innovative technology to produce BioDiesel, a sustainable and environmentally friendly version of regular diesel. Topia Energy Inc. will begin construction on its first BioDiesel production plant, which will also be Canada’s first large-scale commercial plant, in early 2004.

Mr. Jayaraman lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

 

Additional Reading

Assessing Corporate Culture

The Future of Corporate Education

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