Although I do believe in right and wrong, it’s important to initially assess your values without judgment. Different businesses must have different cultures and, therefore, values. A collections company that provides a service of calling people and demanding that they pay their bills will value employees who are assertive and will not back down. The employees would generally value justice more than mercy. They would need to value responsibility and accountability. The employer might value being fair, but would define fair in terms of all the parties, with a bias toward the entity that is owed the money.
On the other hand, a company in the business of entertaining people would not flourish if it based its business on the same values as the collections agency. Typically, it would value fun, entertainment, preparation, and social interaction—those values that help ensure that everyone who walks in the door has fun.
It would not make sense for the entertainment company to say, “We are an entertainment company that is fair in our judgments.” Likewise, you’re not going to hear the collections agency say, “We value bringing joy and laughter to our patrons.” Different businesses, different values.
I attended a very interesting lecture once where the speaker asked a group of chiropractors the following question: “Are you a healer? Are you a doctor? Or are you a businessman?” There was a long and awkward pause, and then he continued, “Your response to this question is going to determine how you will set up and conduct your practice.” The speaker wasn’t suggesting there was a right or a wrong answer; he was saying that the answer would lead each of these chiropractors in a slightly different direction, so they ought to give it careful consideration.
Picture how the “healer” might set up his practice. He would be much more holistic in his approach, focusing on preventative care and wellness. In addition to his services, he might recommend and provide certain supplements and vitamins. He would likely encourage exercise and proper diets. He would certainly teach his patients proper techniques to avoid injury. His values would likely lead him to spend more time with each patient, which he’d need to consider as he mapped out his billing practices. He might spend more time with each customer and may or may not be as profitable.
The chiropractor who sees herself primarily as a doctor is likely more traditional and focuses on getting her patients’ spines back into alignment. As such, her need for staff, office space, and billing policies are going to be quite different from the healer. Finally, the “businessman” would have a dramatically different approach to his practice. He might not even do the day-to-day adjustments, opting instead to have a group of chiropractors work for him. He will be more focused on the production and efficiency of the practice. While each of these chiropractor’s values may differ somewhat, what is clear is that their values are going to provide a road map that guides everything from selecting office space to determining rates to the actual care of the patient.