How to Operationalise your Values

Being a values led organisation is easy right? You decide collectively on what you want to stand for and encourage your team to embrace these values. Simple. At Nine Feet Tall we pride ourselves on being a values led organisation. In fact, our CEO and Founder, Esther McMorris gave a talk at Ted X about this. But how can you operationalise your values so they run through your organisation’s DNA?

At this year’s Legal Geek Conference, my favourite talk was from Adam Burrows at Salesforce discussing how they have addressed workplace culture. With 75,000 employees, they have needed to really work to operationalise their values. Salesforce have been keen to understand where they are winning and where there is friction in living by their values.

Employee engagement is critical to assessing if the values are alive and kicking throughout the day to day running of the business. You can get some of this detail from engagement surveys and forums, then conduct an exercise to map where values are felt/experienced and, more importantly, where they have been compromised.

At Nine Feet Tall our core values are:

Integrity     People Focus     Excellence     Passion


To identify if there is friction we would ask the question, how do each of our values link to operations and processes? We can then show a picture of a mind map with, for example, Integrity as a value and all operational touchpoints identified. This would include billing, sales journey, resourcing decisions, training allocation, supplier/purchasing and other operational activities. If there is an issue and a value is compromised, the mind map should identify where this value isn’t perceived to be in action.

It is so important to be able to pinpoint exactly where the values are not being met, rather than have a general feeling of mismatch which can be harmful to organisational culture.

This exercise is useful and can be conducted across different teams and also with customers or clients. The map means you can identify where the biggest areas lie to further operationalise your values. Once identified, processes can be amended and improved to better reflect the values of the organisation.

Organisations don’t always appreciate that culture can be measured. Often culture is perceived as something intangible, but this really isn’t the case. Metrics and measures can be introduced and baked in to see where you are improving and where there is still work to do. Engaging with your people to measure the perceptions of your organisation’s values can be measured through regular surveys. KPIs to demonstrate improvement will play a key role in this culture journey.

Operationalising your values won’t happen overnight, but it is a worthwhile exercise to make sure that all areas of your business are holding true to the values you hold high and believe in.


If you need any help in getting started, just get in touch and we can have a chat about your values.

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