As difficult as it is to determine and reinforce the values of an organization, it’s even more difficult to be sure that those in the organization live those values in visible ways. But that visible following of values is much more valuable than simply establishing the values in the beginning.
Here’s an example. Habitat for Humanity is one of the fastest-growing large organizations on earth. This charitable enterprise finds deserving people who cannot afford decent housing, helps them build such housing at modest cost, and provides a no-interest mortgages to finance the purchases.
A key element of Habitat’s ethic is that the organization is based on Christian principles, and Habitat sees itself as a Christian ministry. This religious ethical foundation enables Habitat to draw on teachings about “helping thy neighbor” and “loving thy neighbor as thyself.”
Habitat uses these values as an irresistible force to draw volunteers and resources to the organization. Naturally, the group carefully lives up to its creed. Although the charity operates from one set of religious principles, people of many faiths support Habitat’s work out of respect for the values that Habitat upholds.
To some this enterprise may sound like a fairy tale. Check it out. I think you’ll be impressed.
While conventional builders take weeks and months to complete the simplest structure, Habitat routinely builds housing in hours or just a few days as part of special events. Its members rigorously work to reduce costs, improve quality, and accelerate progress, and are the world standard in much of what they do. Now that’s a breakthrough solution!
Right now, there’s a housing crisis in the United States because so many home owners cannot pay their mortgages. As a result, conventional home builders are losing billions of dollars as homes sit empty.
Compare that sad circumstance with what Habitat can accomplish. As home and land prices drop, Habitat can afford to start more homes. If building material prices also drop, Habitat will be able to build its homes at lower prices. As a result, more people will enjoy being in homes where those who buy from conventional builders will have lost.
The Habitat home owners put no cash down into their homes, and they pay no interest. Those homes aren’t going to be repossessed for nonpayment. In fact, if a Habitat home owner has problems paying, there’s flexibility to help the home owner find another job or to reschedule the payments.
Imagine how much better it feels to work for Habitat (for pay or as a volunteer) than to be with a conventional builder.
Is your enterprise based on values that are this inspiring for you and the rest of your organization?
If not, now is a good time to see what you can do to draw on rich value roots such as faith-based ones to create an irresistible force for accomplishing more.