The Significance of Values in an Organization

Crisis of values

Although we are taught that honesty is a desirable, even ideal behavior (and we all accept this as true), the interpretation and meaning we give it in practice varies from one person to the other.

These differences are translated into very concrete attitudes and inconsistencies.  For example, being honest, among other things, means to perform all our duties within an organization, but it is uncommon to associate being late with no justification with dishonesty.

Organizations tend to take for granted that all its members know what a value means, but its general definition is not enough for all to respond in the same way in situations with specific characteristics.

For example, a generalized consensus exists on the benefits of team work. It is an implicit value in an organization. However, it is also a behavior that gives rise to controversy.  Team work doesn’t happen automatically just because everybody is in the same place.  Implementing this value in a harmonious manner requires special individual effort and courage. Therefore, great teams work and train a lot to achieve greatness.

What we call a crisis of values occurs when we find that our team members aren’t following the organizational principles they’re supposed to, or when they contradict those principles.

When we feel that we’re not all going in the same direction great tension arises within an organization or community. This makes sense, because everything – reaching agreement, acting in a coordinated fashion, achieving established objectives -- becomes more difficult.

It is common in companies to talk about values such as excellence, leadership or innovation, but in most cases, the talk rarely goes beyond lip service or good intentions.  The members of these organizations lack the guidance to understand the meaning of these concepts relative to the challenges they face in their daily lives.

Promoting excellence can be difficult in organizations that have arbitrary bosses, and innovation isn’t easily assumed if arguments such as “why change if we have always done it this way and it works?” are frequently used.

These are only a few examples of the contradictions that produce the feeling that we have a crisis of values. When theory and practice are confronted, they generate stress, dissatisfaction, and crisis. In other words, it isn’t easy to promote values if in our daily activities other principles or “anti-values” prevail.

These crises of values, beliefs, or principles occur when they start losing meaning and practical usefulness in concrete matters.


The Significance of Values in an Organization has been published by Cograf Comunicaciones. ISBN 978-980-12-3779-2.
Copyright 2008 Juan Carlos Jimenez. All rights reserved.

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