About the Author

Geoffrey Moore

Managing Director, TCG Advisors Venture Partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures

Geoffrey Moore is a best-selling author, a Managing Director at TCG Advisors and a venture partner at MDV.  More...

November 2008

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Values-Based Performance and Performance-Based Values

Values-based performance characterizes collaboration cultures who commit to altruistic ideals, live these values in their work, and earn thereby the trust of customers and partners .  Performance-based values characterize competition cultures who continually hold themselves accountable to objective metrics of success, regardless of who gets uncomfortable.  The two cultures tend to repel each other, creating nice guys who finish last and jerks who drive Porsches.  But sustainable, good-to-great companies have to combine both. 

I think the proper path here is to begin by establishing values-based performance (no Enrons need apply) and then realize that every time we do not hold ourselves accountable to performance commitments, we are actually selling ourselves short.  Why do we do this?  Because we flinch in fear of the pain that confrontation entails. We are not being nice to the other person, we are protecting ourselves from the demands of stepping up.  Once we acknowledge that this, in effect, means we are not living our values, we can use the energy of shame to change our behavior. 

Finally, this all ties in to Dealing with Darwin because natural selection is the ultimate performance management system, and like it or not, we are all being managed by it.


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Christopher Meyer

Values define the norms, behaviors, and practices that one chooses to live and work by, particularly when stressed. Choice is key. People, companies and societies choose what they believe is right and effective to achieve goals.

I personally dislike the terms Geoff’s chosen to characterize the two perspectives for they are as polarizing as those used by politicians who position “family values” as good and any else as bad. Polarities clarify the extreme at the cost of drawing discussion to the extremes. Besides, some consider me nice and I drive a Porsche.

In practice, when executives deliberately discuss and establish organization values they naturally include elements that reflect norms regarding people and performance. My experience is that this balance reflects a “dominant hand” in priority. Some tip towards people/community concerns; some tip towards performance.

The more important issue is integrity. Does the organization live by the values it professes? I think that’s the key point Geoff is making relative to balancing performance and concern for people. It is important because without integrity, the values are like a ship’s rudder that’s disconnected from the steering wheel.

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