I knew from the first day of training at Securitas, for the Ontario Security Practitioner's Ministry test, that I was getting into something new, and interesting. The Securitas logo is three red dots in a row. It's a simple and easy to recognize design, but it actually represents the company values - which are Integrity, Vigilance, and Helpfulness. I have never worked for a company that had a statement of values, and I quickly learned what a valuable resource this is.
If I open a company and set down a series of company principles, it sends a message to my managers what is paramount - what I feel is most necessary for us to succeed. My managers can take these tools to clearly identify people that manifest those values down the chain of command. The reverse is true for employees, as they will be able to identify companies who share similar values, and find the best fit for them.
This process can have the benefit of encouraging accountability. Let's say you have decided one of your company values is Honesty, and you find one of your managers has promoted someone who is found to be lying on a regular basis. You then have grounds to at least discipline both members of the company. If you are an employee who sees the company not living up to its own rhetoric, you can then decide whether to stay or leave for somewhere more to your liking.
I've spend nearly 25 years in an industry where I never once saw a statement of principles. I can see now how this frees all managers to use their own judgement as to who is more valuable to the company. I am not suggesting that you ignore advice - input is essential, but personal values are as diverse as the individuals themselves. What one supervisor thinks is most crucial is not going to be the same with the next manager up the hierarchy, leaving no clear avenue for your employees to navigate. There may even be clear contradictions in ideals that damage productivity.
It is entirely possible those values are incorrect, but that is the choice free markets allow for. The more functional ideas allow your business to succeed, and others to fail. If your company does not have a statement of values, consider the advantages of doing so, and question how much of a loss of productivity does this cost? What if your lack of an organizing principle is preventing the kind of people from rising to the top - people who will generate the kind of success necessary in an increasingly competitive marketplace. I now see this is a risk too great to take.