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The Official Baldrige Blog

Are Your Values Still the Best Guidance?

Coworkers talking about organizational values.
Credit: SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

Respect, integrity, excellence, compassion, innovation, and community

What is the significance of these words?

Of the 44 Baldrige Award recipient organizations, across all sectors, over the last 10 years, the most common organizational values are built from these words. Other common values are quality, accountability, honesty, service, stewardship, continuous improvement, and teamwork.

Values and Culture

According to the 2019-2020 Baldrige Excellence Framework Glossary definition,

Values are the guiding principles and behaviors that embody how your organization and its people are expected to operate.

Values influence and reinforce your organization’s desired culture. They support and guide the decisions made by every workforce member, helping your organization accomplish its mission and attain its vision appropriately. For Baldrige Award recipients, identified as role-model organizations by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in the year(s) they won the award, it is no surprise that such inspirational words are guiding these organizations.

A similar term to the word “values” is of course “culture”: 

Culture can be thought of as the observed behaviors of an organization.

Your values are part of your organization’s culture, which also include characteristics such as shared beliefs and norms that contribute to the uniqueness of the environment within an organization. An organization’s values and culture—in addition to its vision, mission, core competencies, competitive environment, and strategic challenges and advantages—impact the way it is run and the decisions that senior leaders make.

Understanding one’s organization—a clarity that often comes with writing an Organization Profile—enables leaders to make and implement strategic decisions affecting the organization’s future. 

By Sector

I took a closer look at the values listed in the Baldrige Award application summaries of recipient organizations over the past ten years. In addition to counting all of the values that came up most often, I segmented the values by sector.

For Baldrige Award winners in each sector below, the most common organizational values (in some form of the word) are as follows:

Business sector
respect, integrity, honesty, excellence, doing the right thing, accountability, teamwork, and relationships

Nonprofit sector, which includes cities and organ procurement organizations,
excellence, integrity, innovation, respect, creativity, stewardship, accountability, and compassion

Health care sector
compassion, respect, excellence, integrity, quality, accountability, community, and stewardship

Education sector
community, respect, excellence, integrity, students first, innovation, honesty, and service

Baldrige Core Values and Concepts

The 2019-2020 Baldrige Excellence Framework contains a set of core values and concepts. These are not intended to be the organizational values that a Baldrige Award-winning organization must have, but most role-model organizations exemplify the majority of these values:

2019-2020 Baldrige Framework Role of Core Values and Concepts JPEG Download



Values in 2020

Thinking about values and if the values that guided an organization pre-2020 are still the best values today, I read Harry Hertz’s latest Baldrige insights column, “The New Normal Will Require RE2ST3,” with a lot of interest. He writes about the need for America’s workforce to establish new work patterns and new home life patterns and the need for organizations to focus on resilience and agility. He references the need for organizational transitions and transformations.

In light of organizational transitions and transformations, does your organization need to look at the values that guide its decisions and help it toward attaining its vision and mission? Have there been any lessons from 2020 that should inform a revision of your organization's values?

2019-2020 Baldrige Excellence Framework Business/Nonprofit cover artwork

Baldrige Excellence Framework

The Baldrige Excellence Framework has empowered organizations to accomplish their missions, improve results, and become more competitive. It includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating your processes and results.

Purchase your copy today!

Available versions: Business/Nonprofit, Education, and Health Care

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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Values matter. Thanks for the article

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