The constant of the moment is change. In an ever-changing business landscape, adaptability and agility are the keys to success. Organisations that can pivot quickly to meet new challenges and seize opportunities are the ones that thrive. Principle-driven organisations have proven to be at the forefront of this adaptability and agility, and they stand out in the marketplace. But what exactly are organisational principles? And how are they distinct from your vision, mission, and values?
Defining Organisational Principles
Before jumping into the steps for generating organisational principles, it’s crucial to understand what principles are and how they differ from your vision, mission, and values.
Your vision outlines the long-term goals and aspirations of your organisation. It’s the compelling picture you aim to achieve in the future.
Your mission is your organisation’s core purpose, explaining why you exist and what you do to achieve your vision.
Your values are the guiding beliefs and ethical standards that shape your company’s culture and behaviour.
Beyond this, your organisation’s principles are the fundamental guidelines that dictate how your company operates. No matter the size of your organisation, they serve as the moral compass for decision-making, aligning your organisation with your vision, mission, and values while providing actionable guidance for everyday operations. Principles go beyond what you want to achieve; they inform how you achieve it. Your principles will give you a clear distinctive from those of your competitors.
Principle driven organisations flow out of principle driven leadership. Knowing what the guard rails are governing the organisational decision making is key to being agile. Principles can be applied irrespective of market conditions giving certainty in uncertain times. An example of an organisational principle would be Patagonia adhering to its principle “Protect our home planet, by not allowing permanent third party branding on its products which reduces reusability.”
“Practices are the what to dos, specific applications that fit specific circumstances. Principles are the why to dos, the elements upon which applications or practices are built.” Stephen R. Covey
5 Steps to Generate Organisational Principles
1. Understand Your Vision, Mission, and Values: To create meaningful principles start by revisiting your vision, mission, and values. Clarify what these statements mean in practice. Identify the core elements that truly represent your organisation’s character, aspirations, and ethical standards – the things you will and won’t do operationally in pursuit of your vision.
2. Identify Key Themes: Look for recurring themes or underlying principles within your vision, mission, and values. These could be ideas like integrity, innovation, customer-centricity, or sustainability. These themes often serve as the foundation for your organisational principles.
3. Collaborative Involvement: Principles should be championed but not dictated from the top down. Engage your employees, stakeholders, and leadership team in a collaborative discussion to identify key principles that resonate with your entire organisation. This involvement ensures that principles have buy in throughout your organisation and be deeply ingrained in your company’s culture.
4. Distil Actionable Guidelines: Turn these key themes into actionable guidelines. Principles need to be specific, relevant, and practical whatever the market conditions. For example, if customer-centricity is a theme, a corresponding principle could be “Always put the customer’s needs first, even if it requires going the extra mile.” This provides a clear directive for decision-making.
5. Test and Refine: Once you’ve formulated your principles put them to the test in real-world scenarios. Do they guide decisions and actions effectively throughout your company? Are they adaptable to different situations? Refine your principles as needed to ensure they remain relevant and actionable.
Principle-driven organisations are well-positioned to thrive in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business world. These principles become the bedrock of adaptability and agility, enabling organisations to navigate change with confidence and integrity. Embracing principles isn’t just a strategic move; it’s a commitment to doing business better, ethically, and with purpose. To discuss how your profit or non-profit can be a principle driven organisation book your free 30 minute discovery call here.
Photo by Hogarth de la Plante on Unsplash.