What is Your Organization’s Core Ideology?

What is Your Organization’s Core Ideology? – Brief Article

During a staff meeting last month, the staff at SLA International Headquarters spent some time considering what drives the organization. We weren’t looking for the external factors; we were determining the internal factors that make our organizational clock tick.

The impetus for this discussion was a book written by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. In Built to Last, Collins and Porras shed light on the qualities and values of visionary companies. Several threads were identical in all of the visionary companies researched by the authors. Most prominent was the presence of a core ideology that firmly rooted the company’s direction and focus for the future.

The American Heritage Dictionary, third edition, defines ideology is defined as “the body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, a group, a class, or a culture.” In Built to Last, Collins and Porras note that a core ideology is made up of a set of core values and a purpose that drive an individual or organization forward, a set of principles that guide them to success and through tough times.

Core Values: An organization’s essential and enduring tenets–a small set of general guiding principles; not to be confused with specific cultural or operating practices; not to be compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.

Purpose: An organization’s fundamental reasons for existence beyond just making money–a personal guiding star on the horizon; not to be confused with specific goals or business strategies.

Visionary companies are inclined to function with a foundation steeped in their core ideology. It need not be considered reasonable or acceptable in the eyes of shareholders or customers or the public. It does not change direction to follow trends or fads. And market conditions are not allowed to affect core ideologies. In fact, most core ideologies make no mention whatsoever of the products, services, or markets served by their respective organizations.

Is there a “right” ideology? NO!! In Built to Last, Collins and Porras found no “specific ideological content essential to being a visionary company. Rather, they found that the authenticity of the ideology and the extent to which a company attains consistent alignment with the ideology counts more than the content of the ideology.”

Now consider what core ideology exists in your organization. Why does it exist? Who created it? How long has it been in existence? Has it been changed for marketing or financial expediency? Does your department align its operations to the organization’s core ideology? Many

So many in the information profession struggle to convey value and worth to decision-makers in their organizations. Could it be that, to effectively communicate such value, we need to ensure that our value is alligned with–and meets the requirements of–the organization’s core ideology? And even if many are attempting to do so currently, is the attempt being communicated correctly? There is much more to the story that Collin and Porras expose in Built to Last. But the creation of, and adherence to, a core ideology seems to be the primary starting point for visionary organizations.

Care values + Purpose = Core Ideology

If your organization doesn’t have a core ideology, consider the following values from several major international companies. Maybe you can learn from them.

3M Corporation

* Innovation: “Thou shalt not kill a new product idea”

* Absolute integrity

* Respect for individual initiative and personal growth

* Tolerance for honest mistakes

* Product quality and reliability

Wal-Mart Stores, Incorporated

* “We exist to provide value to our customers” – to make their lives better via lower prices and greater selection; all else is secondary

* Swim upstream, buck conventional wisdom

* Be in partnership with employees

* Work with passion, commitment, and enthusiasm

* Run lean

* Pursue ever-higher goals

Walt Disney Company

* No cynicism allowed

* Fanatical attention to consistency and detail

* Continuous progress via creativity, dreams, and imagination

* Fanatical control and preservation of Disney’s “magic” image

COPYRIGHT 2001 Special Libraries Association

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group