By Crystal Grafton-Combs, Nu Beta (U of Mississippi), International President
What are Ends? Where do I find our core Values? Why do we have Culture Principles? What in the world do they all mean? And how do they all fit together?
If you have asked one (or all) of these questions, you are not alone! They are questions I hear a lot, especially from our sisters who may not be serving in a role where they hear these words and phrases often or have not yet had the opportunity to put them into action in service to AOII. If you are curious to discover the answers, keep reading. They are not as mysterious as one might think!
Ends are what we want the membership experience in AOII to be like for our sisters. Our Ends are ultimately the goals of our Fraternity. If that’s the case, then why not just call them goals? The answer is simple. Because we utilize a specific form of Policy Governance® called the Carver Method, our goals are identified as Ends. While there are some subtle differences, the words are sometimes used relatively interchangeably, much like calling a purse a handbag or referring to a car as an automobile. For us, however, our chapter and Fraternity goals support us in achieving our Ends. This includes our Global End that “AOII exists to enrich members’ lives through lifelong friendships and the ideals of character, dignity, scholarship, and college loyalty, which is achieved through the responsible stewardship of resources.” We do this through a commitment to five additional Ends – Ambition, DEI, Leadership, a Sense of Belonging, and Service.
Now, let’s talk about our Values. They were given to us by our Founders and originally shared in the Object of the Fraternity, and they are captured in our Global End, shared above – Character, Dignity, Scholarship, and College Loyalty. All of our actions are expected to shine a positive light on these four values. For me, they also serve as a public reminder of the values shared privately in our Ritual.
So, if we have our Ends and we know our Values, why do we have Culture Principles? Our Culture Principles are how we lead and serve our Fraternity, from an operational perspective and from a visionary perspective. Whether you serve as a member of our professional staff team or as an international or local volunteer, we are all expected to lead and serve through the lenses of these five principles – of Open and Honest Communication, Accountability and Ownership, Collaboration, Engagement, and Innovation.
How does this all fit together? I often think of it as taking a road trip with my sisters. The Ends are our final destination – an outstanding membership experience based in Ambition, DEI, Leadership, a Sense of Belonging, and Service. Our core Values serve as our guide because we know at all times we must reflect Character, Dignity, Scholarship, and College Loyalty. And our Culture Principles keep us on the right path along the way, reminding us to lead and serve accordingly.
These three concepts work together to act as our sisterhood GPS. We can enter our coordinates and take the path of our choice, whether that is the scenic route or the fastest route, knowing that if we use our Ritual and these principles as our guide, we will all make it to the end as we seek to Inspire Ambition.