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HCI Webinar: Aligning Your Business Strategy with Your Values, with Bessi Graham

In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Bessi Graham about aligning your business strategy with your values. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!


Watch the episode here:


Quick Recap


Jonathan and Bessi discussed the importance of aligning business strategy with values for effective leadership and career navigation, emphasizing the need for a shift in focus from profit maximization to creating value for customers and society. They also highlighted the significance of leadership clarity, decision-making, and the distinction between core and aspirational values in the face of organizational change, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Aligning Business Strategy With Values


Jonathan and Bessi discussed the relationship between business strategy and values. They both agreed that a singular focus on profit maximization is not the only way to approach business strategy and that considering the environment, people, and other stakeholders is important. They emphasized the necessity of aligning business strategy with values for effective leadership and career navigation, despite the challenges posed by the current operating environment.


Shift in Business Focus to Value Creation


Bessi and Jonathan discussed the need for a shift in business focus from profit maximization to creating value for customers and society. Bessi, an entrepreneur, argued that businesses can achieve financial success while also fulfilling their values and meeting the needs of their customers. Jonathan agreed, noting that doing good is a competitive advantage and that businesses should feel good about making more money as a result of delivering more value. Bessi also provided resources for leaders looking to integrate these concepts through her website, Bessi Graham, and hinted at future discussions on this topic.


Finding Meaning and Purpose in Work


Jonathan and Bessi discussed the importance of finding meaning and purpose in one's work, using Patagonia as an example of a company that effectively merged profit and social impact. They emphasized that such an approach is not just a marketing strategy but a core part of the organization's strategy. Bessi highlighted the need to understand one's own values and goals to make decisions that align with them, illustrating that the right choice for one organization might differ from another. They both stressed the importance of sustainability, not just in terms of the environment but also in terms of the organization's energy and motivation.


Leadership Clarity and Decision-Making Amid Change


Bessi and Jonathan discussed the importance of leadership clarity and decision-making in the face of rapid organizational change, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. They emphasized the need for leaders to reclaim their decisiveness and vision by focusing on the foundational elements of their organization, such as core values and a shared vision. They also highlighted the distinction between core values, which are fundamental to an organization's identity, and aspirational values, which inspire and motivate employees towards a common goal. Both agreed that having clear and authentic values is essential for an organization to thrive.


Clarifying Aspirational Values in Organization


Bessi emphasized the importance of distinguishing between aspirational values and core values in the organization. She argued that aspirational values, which are essential for future growth and success, should be framed honestly as aspirations, rather than as current core values, to build trust and alignment. Jonathan agreed with her and highlighted that while aspirations are essential, they need to be coupled with respect for people's limitations and human foibles. He also underscored the need to demonstrate the aspirational values in actions and interactions to build trust.


Aligning Values for Trust and Transparency


Jonathan and Bessi discussed the importance of aligning one's values with actions to maintain trust with employees and customers. Bessi emphasized the need to be more intentional with language and how things are positioned to avoid misaligned expectations. She highlighted that being open and honest about the organization's current state and its aspirations to improve can foster better internal and external relationships. Jonathan agreed, stressing the significance of clear language and avoiding silent disconnect as a means to achieve shared aspirations.


Aligning Values for Strategic Business Success


Jonathan and Bessi discussed the alignment of their organization's core values, aspirational values, and business practices. Bessi emphasized the importance of connecting these aspects to create a self-reinforcing loop in their business, wherein their values and care for their team would lead to better outcomes for their clients, reducing costs, and increasing revenue. She argued that this strategic approach would allow them to pursue their financial stability unapologetically while also running the business in a way that aligns with their values.


Organizational Sustainability


Jonathan argued that the success of an organization, be it a university or a business, should be based on its mission, purpose, health, and sustainability, not its structure. Bessi concurred, emphasizing the need for healthy, effective, and sustainable organizations that treat people with dignity and respect. They both criticized the tendency to vilify certain types of organizations without considering their merits.


Listen to the webinar here:





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