This following article is spot on in explaining the concept of core values. It was written for the United States government National Park Service:
What are Core Values?
The core values of an organization are those values we hold which form the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. We have an entire universe of values, but some of them are so primary, so important to us that through out the changes in society, government, politics, and technology they are STILL the core values we will abide by.
In an ever-changing world, core values are constant. Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. The values underlie our work, how interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our work. They are the practices we use (or should be using) every day in everything we do.
Govern personal relationships
Guide business processes
Clarify who we are
Articulate what we stand for
Help explain why we do business the way we do
Guide us on how to teach
Inform us on how to reward
Guide us in making decisions
Underpin the whole organization
Require no external justification
CORE VALUES ARE NOT:
Changed in response to market/ administration changes
By Way of Comparison
By way of comparison, here are examples of Core Values identified by other organizations.
DISNEY – to make people happy.
Nurture and promulgate wholesome American values.
Creativity, Dream, Imagination.
Preservation and control of the Disney magic.
Absolute, meticulous attention to detail
MERCK – to preserve and improve human life.
Corporate social responsibility.
Unequivocal excellence in all aspects of the company.
Honesty and integrity.
Profit – from work that benefits humanity.
SONY – to experience the joy of advancing and applying technology for the benefit of the public.
Elevation of Japanese culture and national status.
Being a pioneer, not following others, doing the impossible.
Encouraging individual ability and creativitiy.