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:
- The police department, claiming the original 7 values (surprise, surprise!).
- A downloadable document with a graphic showing the proposed 3 values (likely part of the internal campaign at the time).
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 @ FergusonValues.com