This summer I finally made the leap to get our Capillary Values created formally. To no longer be an informal, undercurrent of beliefs and principles, we all kind of knew, but to actually be something tangible and real. This was a follow up to my previous declaration in an earlier blog post that we needed to get my act together and stop helping other create strategy etc. when we needed to do so ourselves.

What we wanted to feel – Encouraged, Unique,Connected, Love and Rebellious

We met for the day in early August and of course I used the Emotional Culture Deck (ECD) to help in our journey. It was a fascinating realization as we focused on words that meant something to us, the way we are and the way we deliver our offerings. We used the ECD to reflect on the comfort levels of various statements, highlight words we didn’t want, words we really had to have and other pieces of the essence we had to have driven within the core of what we were developing.

Hot coffee dorting through the not so nice feels

This was not an easy journey to undertake. I personally had to let go of a lot more than I maybe let on during the day. Capillary is my child, my baby, my creation and I am strongly bonded to it. However, like any parent, I want it to create its own persona and become its own self determined entity. So I bit tongue and lip and let the conversation flow.

Fine tuning the not so nice values

As the conversation flowed and content began to solidify, we recognized three considerations about the content we were creating.

  1. We didn’t want to create a list. That would indicate different values and confirm a hierarchy of position amongst the values.
  2. Our values would also be our principles. We couldn’t separate them and recognized that it was all together in one train of thought.
  3. We would be reflecting the experience of our audiences and how we would be present for them – its not about us, but about them.

So what did we end up with, I hear you ask. We created a Values wheel as shown below with five statements of behaviour.

The Capillary Values Wheel

The important thing to reflect is that it is a wheel, that is continually turning. All of these are equally important, and we cycle through them all regularly. Sometimes one or two may come to the fore, other times all of them but it is not for us to apply any one as more relevant or more important than another. The audience, client, customer, participant or whoever we connect with, will pull and embrace those elements from us they need at that time.

I’ve often had this said to me before people get to know me… “You are very opinionated and challenging, aren’t you?”

But this evolves into some statement, that says something like “I see you are a very values driven person and want to make sure that everything you do aligns with them” – which normally includes some reference to objectivity, fairness, giving space to all voices, non-judgmental and other words which do align with my personal values.

I’ve realised that for me, my motivation for change is often triggered by a need to see my values being realised and nurtured within organizations. To do this there is a strong alignment and recognized need to focus on the culture. This thought pattern has brought me to the conclusion that my currency for success is actually the delivery of my values as demonstrated within the cultural needs, shifts and repositioning I’m so often part of enabling.

Now I’m writing this within the Capillary Blog and I had a moment of horror as I realised, we don’t have a set of values that we operate within as part of our internal cultural dynamic. I will restate that. We don’t have a published set of values for Capillary. I think we all have a known values set when we work with and engage clients, learners and more. These strongly align with my personal values but really, we’ve never written that down and published organizational values. Strange I know!

This sudden moment of clarity, made me dig a little more into the whole values piece. Yes we’ve talked about values, beliefs, principles and more for many years as indicators of the behaviours seen within organizations. My second moment of clarity was actual a moment of confusion. I came up with this quandary… which is more important – publishing values or living values?

Now of course, my immediate instinct went to living the values. However, I reflected that if I don’t have them published anywhere, how will someone know what we hold dear, why we say and act the way we do and all manner of other elements. In fact how would anyone know you are living your values if they don’t know what your values are in the first place. Great, now I need to publish some fancy values piece, get it into the company handbook, publish on the website! This thrills me not, why? How many times have I been engaged with organizations who have some set of seven values (and it so often is seven), that nobody internally knows or understands? I don’t want to fall into that category!

My thought patterns continued to mix and merge until I arrived at a conclusion. Values need to be visible so that you can be held accountable by them and provide transparency to people who need to know where we sit on certain situation. Also, they are of no value (pun intended!) if they are not delivered upon and reflected by all within the organization. In summary, for there to be value in values they have to be seen and embodied by the people in the organization and those the organization serves.

What does this mean for Capillary? Well, I have a task to be undertaken very shortly. A piece of work I’ve done so many times with other organizations I have forgotten my own. We need to have our values clearly defines and fly them high from our flagpole of fairness. I guess that’s going to be published soon!

This has been such a valuable lesson to learn about cultural mindset in organizations – we have a duty to lead by example and demonstrate true leadership in all that we help others do. Now I’m off to audit our own organization!