Values and Vision Exercises? LO11441

Bob Williams (
Mon, 16 Dec 1996 10:56:26 +1200

Replying to LO11419 --

>Date: Fri, 13 Dec 1996 10:52:52 -0800

I have developed a values identification process which borrows heavily
from the Emery's Search process and some ideas from Glen Watkins. It
seems to overcome some (but by no means all) of the problems of people
espousing values which they think they ought to display rather than values
which lie closer to their hearts.

I won't go into the group dynamics (which are very important), but
essentially I get people (at least 16 is the best size, but I have done it
with groups of 50 or so) to undertake collectively the following tasks :-

1. Identify the factors over the next 10 years which will affect them,
and/or their area of work. It is important that people specify things
which can be easily judged (ie not generic phrases like "technology"), or
indicate a direction (eg "increased international communications, and not
"communications"). I don't get too hung up about this since in the end it
is a device, not an attempt to predict the future.

2. I then get people to agree which are the most desirable, and the most
undesirable factors (usually no more than 5 of each). Depending on what
you are doing, you can make the criteria for selection highly restrictive
(ie no compromises allowed), or pretty relaxed. Also depending on what
you are doing, you can do this according to individuals' own interests or
the interests of their organisation, team or community.

3. I then get people to compare the desirable and undesirable lists. I ask
them to define what it is about what they value most in life (or in their
business environment or whatever) which explains the difference between
the desirable and undesirable lists. After five minutes or so of
confusion and a couple of false starts, what pops out is usually riviting
stuff, and quite unlike most similar exercises.

The results can be taken in all kinds of directions, depending on what the
task is. It can form the basis of a vision (eg if your organisation was
behaving along these lines and was wildly successful what could it achieve
in 10 years ?). It can form the basis of organisational evaluation (eg if
your organisation was applying these values what would it be doing in
practice; where is that happening now and why do think it happens there
and not elsewhere). Sometimes I use the futures list, and the values to
help develop strategy or be part of an environmental scan.

I won't make any claims whether this process works better than other
methods. It works for me, and many people who have gone through the
process tell me that it works for them too. If handled well the process
can be a lot of fun, but it needs to be treated seriously; there is a real
danger that people and relationships can be hurt by the some of the
discussions it generates. But I guess that is true of any process which
gets close to the core of what we are as individuals, teams, organisations
and communities.

Hope this is helpful.




"Only Connect" - E.M. Forster

Thought for the day :- If you tied buttered toast to the back of a cat and
dropped it from a height, what would happen?


Bob Williams <>

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