Intentionally Managing Your Organizational Values

Published April 11, 2010

Over the past 18 months, I have been working towards my Master's Degree in the Applied Health Sciences (Sport Management) at Brock University.  I am  pleased to share with you that I successfully defended my thesis on April 5th, 2010.

My thesis is titled Moving from values inaction to values-in-action: An exploration of how values can be intentionally managed by National Sport Organizations.  I am incredibly grateful to the nine NSOs who participated in the study.  In particular, I'd like to acknowledge the 11 sport leaders who shared their insights and idea for how values can be leveraged more intentionally within their organization.

Here are some of the highlights of my findings:

  • What is particularly interesting is that the values identified by each NSO are meant to be reflective of the entire sport - not just for the national office.  Though the majority of the NSOs engaged their members in a dialogue on the values they deemed to be of importance to the achievement of the sport's objectives, more can be done to broaden the dialogue to help embed these value in a more systemic and meaningful way across the entire sport.
  • A framework was developed to help explain how values are currently being manifested within NSOs.  The '4-I framework' describes values as being experienced in four stages within the participating NSOs.  This framework may be a useful tool for sport leaders who are thinking more about intentionally about their organization's values.

a.        Inactive: where values are dormant or not used

b.        Intuitive: where values are shared and experienced at the individual level and are leadership-dependent

c.        Intrinsic: where values are embedded system-wide and evident in policies, practices, and procedures.  Though still focused inwardly on the organization, the values are known throughout the organization and have begun to extend outwards

d.        Inspirational: values at this stage are being mined intentionally as a strategic communications vehicle to engage and inspire members to achieve a common objective

  • All sport leaders indicated that more could be done to live their organization's values more intentionally.  Some very interesting examples were shared on how this could be achieved.  These stories, combined with background research in the field, led me to develop a series of steps for organizations wishing to intentionally live their values.

Step 1: Have a conversation with your NSO members on the values you want to see manifested in your sport

Step 2: Integrate your organization's values within your strategic objectives.

Step 3: Use your values to determine decisions, evaluate performance, and set plans for the future at all levels of your organization.

Step 4: Make the values intrinsic within your NSO by including values into systems, policies, practices, programs, and evaluations.

Step 5: Communicate your values explicitly and showcase your commitment by connecting initiatives that reflect your values.  Declare your commitment to True Sport.

Step 6: Continually invest in your sport's capacity at all levels through a management philosophy that supports both objectives and values.

Step 7: Review and renew your commitment to your values when you undergo any strategic planning efforts.

Originally published: Centre for Sport and Law Newsletter (2010) Vol. 6(2)

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