Home Articles The 10 best strategic business slides of all time: #4 — Values

The 10 best strategic business slides of all time: #4 — Values


In the fourth post in this series, Nigel Malone shares the contents of another of his favourite business keynote slides, drawn from a cross-section of sources that includes some of the great business, brand and military planners of all time.

Also in this series:

Favourite Slide #4: Values

Business slide 4, nigel malone, favourite slides, anthill

A prime objective of any brand strategy is to establish a tone for every communication an organisation makes.

Having worked both client and agency-side, I have seen a lot of branding models. Some are more innovative than others, but most are cut from the same cloth: a series of functional benefits that satisfy emotional needs and a set of values that distil down into a singular brand essence — often a single word or short phrase.

I like the simplicity of this approach for the brand strategist making the pitch to the client, but sadly for the individuals that have to bring the brand to life, internally and externally, it’s rarely upheld or adopted because it is too restrictive or one-dimensional.

What has worked really well for me (in conjunction with another favourite slide, the hedgehog) is concentrating purely on the values.

Richard Barrett, a Fellow of the World Business Academy, former Values Coordinator at the World Bank and author of ‘Liberating the Corporate Soul’ has developed a series of Cultural Transformation Tools®, one of which focuses on values. It’s become invaluable to me in defining the desired culture of an organisation, and setting the tone for all communication.

Take Barrett’s simple three-page values survey [PDF] and ensure you read the questions carefully. They specifically ask you to describe your personal values, the current values of your organisation and the desired values of your organisation. By mapping the results — yours and of those within your organisation — you can determine:

  • the shift in values your culture needs to make (if any) to go from its current state to its desired state
  • the values of existing employees, and how well they fit with the desired company values
  • the different vision each employee has for the company, and their strong suits in helping to achieve it
  • whether a potential employee’s values fit with those needed to take the culture to its desired state, or actually reinforce existing or negative values

Richard Barrett goes as far as to suggest that if an employee’s values match that of the desired culture they should be promoted, if they are a close fit they should be educated, and if they are not even close they should be fired! If you find this fascinating, it’s just the tip of Barrett’s thinking on values.

In my role of business and brand strategist, I’ve found that it is the desired organisational values and the personal values of the CEO that usually matter the most, mainly because they are the key decision-maker. From these it is possible to define the complete DNA of the desired culture, in a form far more useful for creatives and marketers to base their expressions of the brand than a single-word brand essence created in isolation by an agency strategist.

Again, as is the case with all of my slides, it is not the be-all-to-end-all — simply another means to identify pivotal areas of business that may make or break it.

Survey yourself and your organisation, compare the results and see how revealing it really is.

Nigel Malone is a freelance brand strategist and writer, with particular expertise in the fields of tourism, finance, technology, sustainability and social change. Find out more at www.icycalm.biz