“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”

– Roy E. Disney


Core Values are those an organization holds as foundational in team members’ beliefs, behavior, and culture. Here are the Core Values of two very different high performing organizations.

Marines’ Core Values. Honor, Courage, and Commitment

Zappos. As we grow as a company, it has become more and more important to explicitly define the core values from which we develop our culture, our brand, and our business strategies. These are the ten core values that we live by:
1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More With Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble

Here are the core values I helped create at OpenMethods.


Cool example of company values


Below is a list of potential core values for an organization.


list of possible corporate values




Core Values can serve as a strong foundation for an organization’s culture. And, a great culture, if nurtured correctly, can create an incredible environment for team members to flourish. On the other hand, a bad culture can be the downfall of organizations by demotivating team members and creating general discontent. Too often, Core Values are an afterthought, created by groupthink, or are so generic (Integrity, Respect, Professional, etc.), that they really don’t have the teeth to be the foundation of the culture you need to succeed at your Mission. You not only need to get the Core Values right, but you also need to ensure the leadership team lives the Core Values. If the leadership team does not believe or conduct themselves by the Core Values, this double standard is one of the quickest ways to create cynicism, apathy and tank morale of an organization.



A strong set of Core Values helps shape an organization. Core Values should be used as a guide in hiring, onboarding, conduct, team building initiatives, evaluations, and decision-making. Here are the best practices in creating and living Core Values:


Be authentic. It is so easy to create really bad Core Values. Don’t do it. Really think through what makes your team or organization special. What values are important as you think through the lens of your mission? Don’t use corporate-speak in your Core Values, be authentic, and use the voice of the organization that people can embrace and rally around.


What does the organization need to be world-class at? Look back at the Core Values of the Marines and Zappos. The Marines need to have soldiers that have the most honor, courage, and commitment in the world. Zappos is world-class at Service, which is their 1st core value. What does your organization need to be world-class at? Whatever it is, you need to weave it into your Core Values.


Tap into the voice of the employee. Whenever you are creating the Core Values for a group of people, you should include them in creative problem solving. Whether it is issuing a survey, brainstorming, having them vote on the top 3 or 5 core values, there are a lot of ways to ensure the Voice of the Team Member is heard loud and clear.


Focus on 3-5 core values. While Zappos’ Value Statement has ten Core Values, at least in the beginning, keep your Value Statement to 3 to 5 Core Values. Just like a Mission Statement, you want high recall rates on your Core Values; otherwise, they won’t stick as the foundation of your culture.


Embed them into the organizational strategies. Below is a great example of deeply embedding the core values into the employee journey.


employee values strategy



Book some time with Joe Newsum, the creator of and this insightful content. Get instant access and expertise from a seasoned McKinsey veteran, growth leader, and renowned strategy coach. He has deep experience with this topic, professional development, scaling up, leading to success, turnarounds, building top teams, acing the presentation, ramping up new roles, and all types of strategy. Click here to learn more or book some time with Joe.