Ethos Alignment: The Strategy of Values-Led Organisations

What impact does mission, culture and ethos have on an organisation?

I’ve asked myself this question many times since joining Web Applications as Finance Director in 2011, and I would encourage all business leaders to do the same.

On reflection, perhaps I arrived with preconceptions about what was needed to manage and grow a successful Company. As a qualified accountant, my natural inclination was to focus on the debits and credits.

It was evident from the outset that to succeed at Web Applications, regardless of job title or status, I would have to strive to improve every day, learning from my experiences and absorbing knowledge from those around me. It was also vital that I took the time to understand and embrace the existing culture and sought to inspire those around me to do the same.

During 2015 we updated our mission statement, in line with our culture and ethos, and began the process of improving communication of this throughout the Company. Our goal was to ensure clarity and understanding of our strategic vision.

We then embedded this ethos into our recruitment process – surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals who share a passion for learning, growth and innovation. This has helped to attract people with a wider appreciation of the positive impact that we strive to achieve.

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I have outlined some key elements of our ethos below.

  • To focus on having a positive impact across all key stakeholders and our wider community, extending far beyond our business activities and industry sector.
  • To provide a framework which is referenced within the Company, on a daily basis, when making decisions.
  • To empower all individuals, fostering autonomy at all levels and provide a framework which builds confidence and allows everyone to make the right decisions for the right reasons.

To create cohesion and a sense of purpose and belonging within the Company, and provide a foundation from which we all continue to develop and grow. This process of updating our mission statement and reinforcing our ethos has been transformational throughout Web Applications, and has also had a particular impact on my own way of thinking and how I approach matters on a day to-day basis.

Having transitioned to Managing Director in January 2015, my responsibilities now extend far beyond balance sheets and profit and loss accounts. This change of role has forced me to reflect on my own beliefs, and adopt a more pragmatic and reasoned approach to decision-making and management.

I now focus on the motives behind a decision, and the reasons why we all make certain choices. I find it helps to corroborate the rationale with our Company ethos – using this as a framework. It’s also important to consider all potential outcomes and the perception and impact of any decision on everyone involved. Clear thinking and effective communication are key.

In recent years, we’ve spent many hours reaffirming why we come to work every day and discussing the things that matter most to us as a Company. We’ve also reflected on the importance of being ethical in business, and how this builds trust and helps to maintain long-term relationships with our colleagues, customers and community.

When implementing change, it’s important to identify the key stages of transition and introduce these in a methodical and considered manner. This helps to ensure that the change has the desired impact and achieves the stated objectives.

It’s equally as important to effectively measure and monitor the impact of change, and be willing to adapt where appropriate. We encourage direct, open and honest feedback, as a core principal, as this is key to personal growth.

I would encourage all business leaders to reflect on the culture and ethos within their own organisations, and implement a mission that truly represents their beliefs and aspirations.

Strong financial management remains critical to achieving long-term stability in any Company, however, this must be complemented by a clear and coherent strategy, and ethos.