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Posted on Mar 15, 2018

Values Inside vs. Outside America

Values Inside vs. Outside America

Over my years of research on values in business, I’ve discovered something intriguing – or odd.

My values research across American Fortune 500 companies revealed an average number of 5.3 values per company (the highest was 19 values!). Since I completed this specific research a few years ago, I continue to observe American companies with 5 (or more) values – the most common numbers being 5, 7 and 10.

However, over this same period I’ve observed numerous companies outside America – particularly throughout Europe, South Africa, and various parts of Asia – that seem to understand the importance of fewer values. Outside of America, I continually detect companies with just 3 values, a number I repeatedly recommend to clients and here in these articles.

This raises the question:

Why do companies inside America have more values than those outside?

Note: this does not just apply to businesses. My observations are the same across non-profits and governments.

Real Life Example

As a reference point for this observation, I think back to a heated debate within the City of North Las Vegas in 2015, when the city council wanted to reduce the number of values from 7 to 3 (which I see as a smart move). Apparently, this created quite a debate, which I wrote about in an article in May 2015.

And what’s the status today? The webpage listing the City’s values is now gone, and the only references to values I can find on the website are:

It would appear those on the council of the City of North Las Vegas who had advocated for fewer values lost their case. I consider this a sad outcome.

So I ask my question again, a different way:

Why do American leaders find it so difficult to limit their selection of values to 3?

I have my own theories on this intriguing observation – and challenge. But what do you think?

Let me know your thoughts. Send me an email to Robert @