I was sitting in a KFC eating lunch, reading the slogans muraled on the wall. This particular KFC is supposedly the first KFC in America. Yes, it’s in Utah. Along with some chicken legs and a drink, you can enjoy a small exhibit showing Colonel Sander’s original briefcase, white suite, shoes, etc.
One mural read, “Somehow we’ll do it, by the principles of thrift, honor, integrity, and charity.”
I thought for a moment. Some of the financial service companies I’ve worked with would fail if they valued charity. Then I thought about how trust is a wonderful interpersonal dynamic, but the companies I’ve worked with in the medical field allow no latitude for trust. Everything must be written down and authorized by a credentialed physician. Walk into a pharmacy and you’ll need a signature on piece of paper to get a prescription filled.
Hmmm, just like charity is an anti-value in the financial services industry, trust is an anti-value in the medical industry.
I spent the day thinking about this new concept. I owe the title of ‘Anti-Value’ to the Discovery-Channel documentary about Anti-Matter I was watching the night before. I guess I’m coining the phrase here, but it makes a lot of sense to me. Normally, a value is something our society charish’s, yet in a particular situation, or line of business–it becomes the wrong thing to do.
I started seeing how this concept can be applied all over to help clarify the decision making process.
I remembered taking third place instead of second in a Maryland school-district programming competition in high school because I let the guy from our rival high school cut in line in front of me to turn in his test. When the results were announced we had both scored the same grade, but because he handed his paper in first, he won second place and I won third. (I beat him in the State programming competition the following month.)
I’ve never forgotten this experience, and actually now that I think about it, offering your competitor any leeway is an anti-value.
Some business meetings I’ve been involved in are a collage of participants cutting other participants off mid-sentence to make their point known. Rude? Yes. But, in fact, politeness may be considered an anti-value in these types of situations.
I think the concept is fascinating. Just as a good value system should be in place to help an organization, department, team, or individual govern their decisions, an anti-value system can compliment a value-system by providing additional clarity for the decision making process.
One example of this is the U.S. government’s policy on dealing with terrorists. The government values having a “no negotiating with terrorists” policy. As a disincentive to future terrorism, they have an additional policy to provide or produce exactly the opposite of what the terrorists are demanding. The notion–to give them what they want–really becomes an anti-value, and is an additional input to the decision-making process. So, in fact, their policy is set by values, and anti-values.
I hope you find this concept as fascinating as I do. It was the best $7.79 I’ve spent on lunch in a while.
Mike J. Berry