The Strategic Roadmap – Core Values of an Organization

July 18, 2018

In this episode of “Generations in Family Business: Past, Present and Future”, Matt Kerzner and Tim Schuster discuss the importance of developing and organizations core values and how this is part of the Strategic Roadmap Process.


Tim Schuster: Welcome to our podcast for Generations in Family Business: Past, Present and Future. Our host for this podcast are myself, Tim Schuster, and I’m a manger in the Center for Family Business Excellence and our other host is...

Matt Kerzner: Hi, I’m Matt Kerzner and I’m a senior manager for the Center for Family Business Excellence.
TS: And to continue on our conversation Matt, you know, a major philosophy of the center is our strategic roadmap where, you know, Matt and I have been taking each step for the roadmap and breaking it down for our listeners. Our last podcast we discussed the mission of an organization and this week we’re going to discuss our core values. So Matt, can you tell us or can you define for us, what are core values?
MK: Yes, Tim, core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person and an organization. And the core values are guiding principles that help dictate - that can help people and organizations understand the difference between right and wrong and the core values, they can help the company move in the right direction.
TS: Makes sense: keeping things kind of on a train and moving in that direction. You don’t want to go backwards, ideally.
MK:That’s correct, that’s correct.
TS: Can you give us some examples of core values?
MK:Sure. Some examples of core values – they’re critical words that can help, like I mentioned, guide you in the right direction. So some of them are dependability, reliability, loyalty, commitment, open mindedness, consistency, honesty, you know, family, patriotism…
TS: Well that’s a big one.
MK: Right. Efficiency, innovation – right, these are great words – creativity…
TS: Yeah yeah yeah.
MK:…compassion, motivation, respect, education and service to others.
TS: Well Matt, I really appreciated that list. You know, out of curiosity, and I think our listeners are interested as well, what are your core values?
MK: That’s great, and I think it’s important for individuals within organizations and departments to actually understand what drives them as a person working for that. So, you know, and it’s something that you think about. My core values, for me, is education, professionalism, integrity, team work, compassion, fitness, family, loyalty, humor and gratitude.
TS: I think that defines you to a T. I like that. That’s great.
MK:Yeah, yeah.
TS: You know, how often do you need to review core values as an organization.
MK: Yeah, it’s very important that you look at your core values at least once a year just to make sure that they’re lining up to the mission statement because that really drives creating the mission statement when you’re putting these together. So I would say at least once a year…
TS: …once a year.
MK: …they should be reviewed by, you know, the leadership or if you’re doing it for your department, you should look at it for your department, just to make sure they’re aligned.
TS: Makes sense to me. Yeah, yeah - keeping the organization moving along. So I know that before we recorded this today you wanted to kind of walk our listeners through a core value exercise.
TS: And I know I had the opportunity to kind of put some of mine down together so do you want to just walk us through kind of how that works?
MK:Yeah, that’s great Tim. So, you know, I usually do an exercise – I call it the Titanic, right. And think of the Titanic the ship, and we all know what happened to the Titanic.
TS: Unfortunately.
MK: Yup. And, you know, let’s say for example you are going to put your core values together and you’re going to create your list similar to what I did…
TS: Yup, yup yup yup.MK: …I always say that you should, you know, prioritize them and really focus in on that one core value that could really be the motivation to move you forward, move the department forward, and I always say it starts with you as an individual. So let’s do this exercise.
TS: Sure, that’ll be great, yeah.
MK:So, do you have, let’s say – I gave a full list and I know I asked you to put some together.
TS: Yup yup yup
MK: How many did you put together?
TS: I put down five, you know, I want to just kind of keep it consistent and short for the listeners just to kind of get a gauge.
MK:Ok, great. So, why don’t you tell the listeners what your five are.
TS: Sure. So my five are family, career, dependability, loyalty and community involvement.
MK:Excellent, excellent. So with this exercise, you know, we just got the word that we just hit the iceberg and we have this lifeboat that you can go on. And, you know, because we have to get the woman and children on, right…
TS: They’re always first.
MK: They’re always first, always first, always first.
TS: Become a jerk.
MK: But, you know, you’re allowed to bring, you know, only four of your core values. So you have to drop one. You can only fit four core values. What are your four core values that you can bring on?
TS: So, I mean, based upon my list, I would say we’re going to go with the first four just because when I was thinking about this myself, you know, I always want to kind of list things in order of importance so I would say family, career, dependability and loyalty would be them.
MK: Excellent, excellent. So, you know, I actually just got word from the captain…
TS: Yeah?
MK:…that you can’t bring four.
TS: Oh no.
MK:You can only bring three.
TS: Ok.
MK: So now you have to drop one of those.
TS: Ok.
MK:Right. So what are your top three?
TS: So, like I said before, I’m going to keep it consistent just because I think that how I listed them would be what I would deem to be most important so family, career and dependability.
MK:Ok, great. So, you know, actually I fibbed.
TS: Uh oh.
MK:You can only bring two.
TS: Oh, ok.
MK:So you have to drop another one.
TS: Ok. In that case then I would say family and career would be the most important.
MK:Ok, great, so family and career. Tell me a little bit about family and career. Why did you choose those two?
TS: Sure. I think that there’s a good balance that you can strike between family and career. I always take an approach that your family is probably the most important thing to you. I’m a big family man myself, you know, we always travel together, we do as much as we can together as a family because at the end of the day they’re the ones that are going to be there for you the most.
MK: Yup.
TS: And my career, I take that as, you know, super serious. You know, I want to get through and I love what I do, especially working for the Center for Family Business Excellence and also working in an accounting perspective too. So, you know I like the idea of marrying the two and, you know, really working on that and just helping – and really it’s helping out people, you know. I mean that’s what we do is helping out people and I think that this is an opportunity to help out as many people as we possibly can.
MK:Excellent. So I think you know where I’m going with this, right.
TS: Yes, yes, absolutely. I’ve been seeing it.
MK:So, I said you could bring two and those were two great ones that you mentioned and they’re very important, right, and you have to balance those two. But what happens if I told you, you can only take one?
TS: So if I only can choose one I would choose family. I think family – family is probably the most important value that I have.
TS: Absolutely.
MK:Excellent. I think that was a very excellent, wise choice…
TS: Appreciate that.
MK:…and, you know, in the Center for Family Business Excellence we actually balance the family needs and the business needs, right, career and family…
TS: Yup, absolutely, it’s the most important things.
MK: …so, it was very good that you chose those two but you actually chose family and I always tell my clients that family should come first, right?
TS: I couldn’t agree with you more.
MK:Business is very important. Career is very important. But if you don’t have that balance with your family I don’t think you can be happy at work, right?
TS: I agree, I agree.
MK: So I think that was good. I do that exercise – obviously it’s a lot longer when you do this and you really think through the definitions of each of those words and what they mean to yourself as well as when you’re doing it for the department or the organization - you go through that. But when you do this exercise, you know, you really start thinking what’s really important?
TS: Right, exactly.
MK:And then once you have that number one, right, that like family that is your foundation. And you work on that foundation and then you grow from there. And then, you know, the other four that you mentioned besides that family are just as important.
TS: Absolutely.
MK:But you’re putting priority together and that’s your guiding principal.
TS: Absolutely. You have to start with your base and then work your way up.
TS: Makes a lot of sense to me. I appreciate that sir. So, I just want to say Matt, thank you so much for taking us through that exercise and thank you for listening to generations in family business, past, present and future as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. Our next episode we will discuss vision of an organization. If you have any questions, or there’s a topic you’d like us to cover, email us at Visit for more information on this and a host of other topics. We look forward to have you listen in on our next EisnerAmper podcast.

About Matthew Kerzner

Matthew Kerzner is a Managing Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence. Matt has more than 25 years of experience in organizational development with a specialization in assisting family businesses and closely held businesses.

About Tim Schuster

Mr. Schuster is a Senior Manager providing tax compliance services to individual filers, as well as assistance on tax returns for companies in the manufacturing and real estate industries.

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