• Dedication to every client’s success
  • Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
  • Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships


What do the above points represent? 

They are the core values of IBM as developed last year by the 319,000 IBMers around the world who engaged in an open “values jam” on their global internet. Believe it or not, IBM’s company values had not been looked at since the company’s founding almost a century ago. Of the revamped values, IBM Chairman and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano proudly writes:

IBMers by the tens of thousands weighed in during the 72 hour jam last year. They were thoughtful and passionate about the company they want to be a part of. They were also brutally honest. Some of what they wrote was painful to read, because they pointed out all the bureaucratic and dysfunctional things that get in the way of serving clients, working as a team or implementing new ideas.

He went on to say that when IBMers have been crystal clear and united about their strategies and purpose, it’s amazing what they’ve been able to create and accomplish. [Whereas] in times of uncertainty or conflict, they have squandered opportunities and made blunders that would have sunk smaller companies.

Yes…smaller companies.  How many of you owners of small businesses have articulated your values like Big Blue has?  I am talking about a clear set of values that underscore how your company will behave with your clients, colleagues, partners, investors and the public at large? And before you yawn, let me be clear. I am not talking about motherhood and apple pie. And I am not talking about picking some nice words from a list. Honesty/ Integrity…how boring! 

I am talking about coming up with meaningful word strings or phrases that really sing for your business.   Check out this sample list of values: 

  • Have a Passion for Excellence and Hate Bureaucracy
  • Have the Self-Confidence to Involve Everyone and Behave in a Boundaryless Fashion
  • Stretch… Set Aggressive Goals… Reward Progress… Yet Understand Accountability and Commitment

red-velvet-cake2Maybe you run a bakery and one of your values is Living the lemon chiffon/ red velvet cake life.  To you and your employees, this value may mean that you aim to treat your stakeholders with lemon freshness, delicious transparency and develop rich, smooth relations. 

The point is this: your company’s customized values can be whatever works for you.  What matters most is that you know what they are and live them. 


How to write a small business values statement.  The advice on this site is rather so-so but it’s a start.

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