The Power of Guiding Principles (Digital Transformation Framework – Part II)

The Power of Guiding Principles (Digital Transformation Framework – Part II)

In the second of our Karma Framework series, we will discuss Guiding Principles and their value to an organization, engagement, or project. For an overview of the Karma Advisory Digital Transformation Framework, visit our site to see the first part of our series or view the LinkedIn Post.

Karma Advisory Digital Transformation Framework

What are Guiding Principles?

Principles, values, or clarifying statements serve to focus and simplify decision-making in projects. Guiding Principles are living statements, and as the project goes on — their meaning and nuance are codified.

What are the benefits?

Enhance Decision-Making Dynamics

When everyone is clear and in agreement about what they value, decisions become more streamlined. Guiding principles provide a clear framework, reducing second-guessing and scope for conflict. In addition, they provide unambiguous language to remind all stakeholders of what they agreed to in the past.

Build Authentic Resonance

When decisions align with predefined principles, they resonate more with the stakeholders involved. This fosters trust and ensures that decisions are in line with the organization and program values and objectives.

Identify Potential Points of Friction 

If certain decisions do not align with the Guiding Principles, it serves as an early warning system. It is an indication that there might be underlying issues that need addressing, whether it is re-evaluating the decision itself or the principles that guide it.

Foster a Cohesive Team and Dynamic

With clear guiding principles, teams work more harmoniously. There is a shared understanding, mutual respect, and a common direction, making collaboration more fruitful.

When should a team figure out guiding principles?

The ideal scenario is to come up with an initial list of guiding principles in the beginning — in doing so, stakeholders can debate what they explicitly value, ensuring transparency and mutual understanding.

These debates around what the team values will continue to be tested against deliverables throughout the project. Sometimes the original principles are accurate and other times they need to be made more precise or broader.

What is an example of a Guiding Principle?

One example is the Guiding Principle of data integrity. Often, you will see this principle defined to mean “ensure accuracy and consistency of data.” However, to really understand this principle, the team needs to dig deeper and understand the implications from various perspectives:

  • From a technology perspective – To maintain data integrity, the team needs to look at data systems to reduce manual entry, leverage systems of record as much as possible, and institute quality assurance in technology processes where appropriate.

  • From an operations perspective – To maintain data integrity, the team needs to look at operations and consider training, standard operating procedures, and implementation of quality assurance and quality control processes.

It is very important to consider a principle from a 360-degree perspective — this enables a simple statement to provide clarity throughout all facets of a project.

Key Takeaways

While decisions are not always black and white, Guiding Principles help make the implicit explicit – ensuring decisions are consistently oriented in a mutually understood direction. As important as the upfront work of setting clear Guiding Principles, they can and should also continually be revisited as a project evolves through its natural lifecycle.

We hope guiding principles can support your organization in getting things done! Be on the lookout for the next in our series.

About Karma Advisory

Karma Advisory works at the intersection of business and technology for both public and private sector clients. We are focused on helping organizations translate their business needs into actionable technology solutions. We work with our client’s teams to understand their goals and on-the-ground realities and work side-by-side to implement solutions. We strive to be an objective, trusted, and results-driven partner — bringing a values-driven approach to working with our clients to achieve their vision and goals.  

We look forward to speaking with you, sharing more about our work, and learning more about your organization. Visit us at or reach out at