I just came across an impressive philanthropic venture that nevertheless felt the need to articulate its ‘values’. I won’t go into it at any length here, but the more I think of formal articulations of values the less impressed I am.
So many organisations do it that perhaps it’s worth doing, but the thing that concerns me is that values tend to be articulated in tension with each other. If one of my values is ‘honesty’ and another is ‘consideration for others’, the illuminating thing is not the fact that I rehearse them as values – most people would claim to support the values – but how they are traded off against each other. When does honesty give way to consideration, or vice versa. Statements of corporate values – to the best of my knowledge never tackle this at all.
Anyway there are firms that think all this stuff is so much hot air. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is one. And it’s a clear thinking, generally right doing outfit. No shortage of values, and no lack of clarity of values there.
Then I wondered about another impressive outfit. Platinum Capital about whom I’ve written before. I searched its website for its ‘mission’ and the word appears once in its entire website and all its newsletters. It’s on the first newsletter and appears as a simple statement – rather than up in lights as a Capital M ‘Mission Statement.
As this is the first letter to investors, it is appropriate to remind readers of our mission. We aim to add to your wealth by scouring the world for listed companies which we believe are trading at valuations below their intrinsic worth.
That’s it. I can’t find any reference to the word “vision” or the expression “our values” on its website. And while it says it doesn’t ignore ethics in its investment approach (I presume if things get egregious enough), it has no formal ‘ethical investment framework’ because it’s aware of how difficult it is to actually come up with one that isn’t riddled with paradoxes.
Anyway, here’s my bleg, do you know any other successful companies that haven’t been swept up in the ouija board nonsense of visions, missions and values.