Never Make Acronyms From Core Values

Acronyms, don’t you just love them? 

Whilst some have slipped into common use (TV, PC, DNA) – and even more have become part of a new mobile language (LOL, LMAO, IMHO), they should never, ever be used for your core values.
Here are some reasons why it’s a terrible idea….
  • If you need an acronym to remember your values, then your values suck.
  • If someone created an acronym, they probably had to change the words or add some new ones to make them fit, which messed them up.
  • It speaks more of care for ‘image and marketing’ than for honest, straightforward common sense.
  • It won’t translate to other languages well, and therefore screw up your international efforts.
A few months ago I wrote a blog on defining core values the cowboy way – the values created at the end of that article were:
1. Speak the truth
2. Do the right thing
3. Respect others
Let’s imagine for a moment that instead of capturing things properly, somebody decided that an acronym was needed. Looking at the above, perhaps the word ‘Steer’ could be used – and we could make a good logo out of it too…
 Speak the truth
Taking other peoples stuff is wrong
Elders come first
Everyone eat steak
Respect others
We’ve kept to the content of our employee voice capture, but in essence we’ve created something that looks a little better, but is clearly full of crap – which is something we know Cowboy Inc. likes to avoid.
If you want to make it worse, then define your value acronym against the current company tag line – then employees will be absolutely sure to see it as a marketing exercise.
If you have acronym-based values (and many do), then I hope this doesn’t offend. In the unlikely event that they work well, and the behaviours that underwrite them drive better business then you should be proud to be in the minority.
If not, it’s time to make some changes.
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