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On shared values: The Great Pyramid of Giza

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Management, Media, Mining, Publications


Last October, triggered by attendance at a UWA Business School event on the subject, Allan and I published some musings on shared values – the alignment between personal and corporate values. We’re not formal experts on this subject, but as people active in business, and a business school, and predominatly in an industry (mining) were all sorts of discussions about ‘values’ prevail, it is nonetheless a subject of interest and one in which we’d like to get to know a little more.

In the article, we use an overstretched metaphor of a pyramid (a common piece of management iconography), specifically the Great Pyramid of Giza, to demonstrate our confusion about what exactly corporate values are, and from where they emanate. Are they the peak of the pyramid, the base, the cement, all around, the tomb in the centre, the ground the pyramid is built upon, the sun in the sky, or something else entirely? We could find justification for each of these, which to some extent this explains some of the confusion around corporate values and the related (but different) subject of corporate cultures.

Values are difficult to define objectively, thus the pyramid (i.e. a search for objective understanding) doesn’t really help us work out which corporate values are important. However, because they are subjective, each of us no doubt thinks we know what values are and which are important. Therefore instead of trying to navigate the metaphor and really try to understand what ‘values’ are, we suggest instead that a good first step in understanding is to simply identify your values (this simple checklist would help) – these are the important ones! All you need then do is compare them to a similar list for the company or organisation you work for – do they match? If they do, your work life should be easier and more fulfilling. If not, well, it might be a problem.

I’d have a go, but I guess bravery is not one of my ‘values’.

The full article is entitled “On shared values: Competitive advantage or bland web content?” and is available to subscribers on, or contact me.

For keen followers of the Strictly Boardroom column, our book “Strictly (Mining) Boardroom Volume II: A Practitioners Guide for Next Generation Directors” was published last year and is available as a paperback or e-book from Major Street Publishing or Amazon. We’re pleased to say that the book received a very positive review in the AusIMM Bulletin and in Geoscientist magazine – the member’s publication of the Geological Society of London.