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BPI Shared Values and Guiding Principles – Focus Phase

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown

BPI Shared Values and Guiding Principles – Focus Phase

Share Values and Guiding Principles - Focus Phase.png


  • Declaration by senior management of the values and principles that will define the future     organizational culture (‘how things will be done around here’). These address which cultural values the organization must maintain intact, change or adopt for the BPI program to succeed.        
  • Shared Values and Guiding Principles are initially articulated in high-level behavioural terms that address the entire organization. Later, as part of the development of Design Charters, these values are re-expressed from the perspective of specific Focus Areas, as ‘Guiding Principles’ for design teams.

Client Value

  • This deliverable clarifies for the client organization what otherwise may appear to     be intangible issues associated with human behavioural change. Shared Values and Guiding Principles directly link the stated business objectives to the organizational culture changes achieving these objectives will require (e.g. work lifestyle, customer-orientation, etc.).        
    • BPI project teams refer back to these directional statements established up-front by management many times during the BPI program to guide them in coming up with business solutions that are in line with senior management’s vision and way of thinking            
  • The communication of the values and principles, and the resultant dialogue that opens up about them, helps employees to gain a clearer understanding of the nature and degree of change at hand. It helps them comprehend the general kinds of work behaviours expected in the future, and ultimately, will help them to choose whether or not they wish to continue working for the organization.
  • The Shared Values and Guiding Principles complete the picture of the shared future vision     for the organization and highlight the challenges in achieving that vision. They subsequently help the project team in the development and fine-tuning of project management, organizational change and human resource deliverables.


There are numerous way of approaching the implementation of this deliverable.The following steps need to be included in any approach taken because they ensure that the Shared Values and Guiding Principles are firmly anchored in the business issues and aspirations of the organization. There are, however, many alternate techniques for each stage (Organizational Culture Inventory).
  1. Review the Case for Change, Readiness for Change Assessment and Confirmed Business Vision and identify key themes.
  2. Interview the leadership team to explore their views on the critical underpinning values and principles for the future business.
  3. Conduct focus groups or workshops with representative groups to validate the gap in expectations between the stated values of senior management and those of employees   
    1. This ‘reality check’ should identify “current values” and “ideal” and should identify values, beliefs and behaviours in respect of key themes, different sub-cultures and how they fit with the current and ideal profiles.   
  4. Develop a succinct report on Shared Values and Guiding Principles and present it to the leadership team.
  5. Conduct two-way feedback sessions with participants of the focus groups to present the report and seek further input on its potential.



  • Values and principles are frequently written in highly-idealistic or unclear language and are thus not considered credible in the eyes of employees. The implications of vague notions such as ’empowerment’ should thus be spelled out in subsequent descriptive sentences.

Tactics/Helpful Hints

  • Use the findings of the Readiness for Change Assessment to support the focus on values and principles. In most cases cultural issues relating to leadership style, inward orientation, poor conflict management, passivity and related issues are the identified reasons for the failure of past change efforts. For there to be a turnaround in these areas, new values and principles need to be adopted and translated into meaningful action.
  • Provide a succinct culture model to structure dialogue and debate. Models based on the     work of Schein or Kotter have general favour currently (see References section of this deliverable). The material on culture in ‘The Leading Change Approach’ has successfully been used with External Consultant clients in the past.
  • Often, the values and principles stated in internal company documents do not reflect the     true cultural values of the organization. In such cases, a mix of analytical and creative processes may be required to uncover the underlying values to which employees can actually relate. Tools such as the Human Synergetics’ Organizational Culture Inventory (OCI) and ‘Climate Surveys’ have proved useful in highly-analytical organizations. However, the validity and value of measuring subjective human behaviours with rigid quantitative tools is often questioned. Others criticize their use on the grounds that such tools may inhibit free and creative thinking.
  • Cultural change frequently involves a paradox. If you want people to adopt a new frame of reference, first you must recognize and accept that their current frame of reference is valid in their eyes (and in their current environment) and not discount it as irrelevant.
  • Senior management     must become a ‘living example’ of the future corporate values before     they will be accepted and adopted by employees.


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