Values – the most overlooked quality of the world’s most successful organisations

Around the world, 85,000 credit unions in 118 countries improve the lives and communities of 274 million members.

So here is a question: what is the most overlooked quality of the world’s most successful credit unions?

The answer is their values.

They are not overlooked because values are seen as unimportant in credit unions. Quite the opposite is true; it is the values that typically explain why people are involved.

Values are neglected in many credit unions precisely because they are assumed and taken for granted, rather than nurtured and put to work.

It is as if a gifted up and coming footballer were encouraged to train and focus on their image rights and sponsorship deals, rather than their free kicks, their passing and their goals.

I have written a guide to values for credit unions published this week by the Centre for Community Finance, a European research centre inspired by the work of the Filene Institute in North America.

I am pleased to acknowledge how much I have learned in recent years from fellow members of the UK Values Alliance – originators of the World Values Day. There is something special, something deeply collaborative about the people who work as coaches and organisational development facilitators on values and culture.