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Shared Values: 21st Century Organizing Principle

We continuously stress that one of family businesses' primary competitive advantages is their superior potential for generating, articulating and sustaining strong shared values within their business organizations. Writing in Fortune magazine's 70th anniversary issue, Geoffrey Colvin, without referring to family businesses, explains why this advantage is so critical and will become more so during the next century:

"Two forces...have historically enabled people to function in large organizations for long periods: iron authority and shared values.... Iron authority has its uses, but it has serious problems as a way to manage a fast-moving, adaptable, creative enterprise.

"That's why we hear ever more talk about values as the basis of managing the 21st century corporation. Yes, making money for the shareholders is the object, but we know for sure that this isn't what gets people out of bed in the morning to go fight the company's battles. That takes deeper issues. We also know (through millenniums of human experience) that lots of people with aligned values constitute an awesome power. And so in this emerging new era when so many people can work for whomever and from wherever they like, coalescing around shared values becomes a logical, effective organizing principle for a business enterprise. Creating, articulating, and sustaining the organization's values thus become one of management's most important jobs.... Most managers now seem to understand that they will find competitive advantage by tapping employees' most essential humanity, their ability to create, judge, imagine, and build relationships. The champion managers of the Infotech Age will be those who do it fastest and best."

 

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