The Breakthrough Possibilities of Deleting a Core Value

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Take out a copy of your team’s core values.

You know the one I mean. It’s either filed away in a folder called “Documents”, or perhaps it’s in that binder labeled “2012 Off-site Retreat”. It’s possible that it’s framed and posted on the wall in your staff coffee room.

I’ll give you a minute while you go get it.

Read each value statement carefully. You probably have between 8 and 12 of them. They likely are peppered with phrases like “relentlessly focused on” and “wholly committed to”. Powerful stuff, eh?

The one I want you to zero in on is that one that jumps off the page, because quite frankly it just doesn’t fit. If the last time you did a review of your core values was more than two years ago, then in all probability there is at least one that simply doesn’t resonate with your present team.

You have three options:

1. You can re-cast vision around that value, “blow-torching it” until it once again is being lived out among your team, or

2. You can take out the white-out and simply eliminate the value, or

3. You can ignore the discrepancy and re-file the core values document back where you found it.

I’m going to build a case for option #2; that sometimes the best option is have the courage to hit “delete”. This sounds like leadership heresy, but hear me out.

Teams change. And sometimes along with those changes new values emerge and old ones become out-dated.

I once was part of a team that conducted a review of our core values and discovered one that was clearly a reflection of a different time. After trying desperately to make this value “fit”, we finally had to look at each other and admit, “This value simply no longer reflects who we are.”

And so we looked at each other, and we looked carefully at the value as written on the page.

Finally, after a great deal of thought and further discussion, we crossed it out.

Not only did the sun still come up the next morning, but our stated values now made sense.

Don’t take the idea of deleting a core value lightly. This is a big deal. But be open to the possibility that a value once held in high regard by a previous team may simply no longer be true for this present team.

And have the courage to hit “delete”.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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