Statement of Core Values or
Philosophy of Operations Statement
The final component of developing the foundations of the management system for your family business surrounds the beliefs and behaviors that you intend to follow or keep sacred in managing your family farm business. Specifically, a Statement of Core Values or Philosophy of Operations Statement.
In order for your family business to ascend towards its vision, core values must be clearly identified and communicated. A well-developed Statement of Core Values will make it clear to the reader and your team whether your future plans for growth are reserved and conservative or aggressive, whether your priorities are based on the “here and now” or whether you value “the long term”. Your Statement of Core Values also answers the question or how members of your family business should behave toward one another and your customers and vendors.
Considerable time and thought should be committed to identifying your core values because frankly, once identified, these values should never be compromised. Maybe that’s why they’re called “core” values. They are at the heart and soul of your family farm. Your State of Core Values should not be taken lightly and should complement your other foundational statements. They should not all be the same, but they should at least provide some connection with one another.
"The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values - carefully thought about, selected and internalized values."
A Statement of Core Values should be unique and not full of clichéd words such as “honesty” or “integrity”… these are expected of your family business. The core values you identify ought to be unique to your family business and your business should be better at delivering them than anyone else.
Going through the exercise of developing a Statement of Core Values can have a direct impact on whether successive generations choose to pursue a career in your family business; or in the case of those already working in the family farm business, whether they stay. The process of defining a Statement of Core Values is what provides the most value. It is not the statement itself; it is the process and exchange of ideas and specific words that provide the true benefit of this foundational part of your family business.
If opposing values and operating philosophies become evident and the gap between them is quite large, it should provide a clue to everyone involved that the likelihood of long-term success and happiness is relatively low. Everyone in your family business does not need to share the exact same core values and walk lockstep with each other like a finely trained army brigade over a bridge. Everyone walking in lockstep can actually lead to disaster.
How fancy does this Statement of Core Values need to be? Like everything else we have discussed. Keep it simple and concise. A list of bullet points can do the job just fine. Here is a simple example of a Statement of Core Values:
- Be early adopters of technology
- Open, honest and professional communication
- Committed to maintaining a professional management system
- Transparency in record keeping with all key stakeholders
- Accountability for performance and personal development of skills
As part of your long-term strategic planning process, your foundational documents: Vision Statement, Mission Statement and Statement of Core Values (or alternatively called, Philosophy of Operations Statement) should generally be reviewed and updated, say every 3 to 5 years. These are the inner most beliefs and the guideposts reminding you of the proper way to make the best decisions for your family business and how to best resolve conflicts. If this becomes a “one and done” exercise, you might as well not bother. To be sure this has real value for your family farm, it is a good practice to appoint someone that is responsible for ensuring that these foundational items are revisited at the appropriate time.
"The process of defining a Statement of Core Values is what provides the most value. It is not the statement itself, it is the process and exchange of ideas with one another and the specifically chosen words that provide the true benefit ..."