Statement of Our Values in Action
This document is the result of a comprehensive effort...
- Reviewing the hundreds of hours of meetings Creating the Future has convened over the years since our board and strategy meetings became public in January 2013.
- In many cases, the statements are the verbatim words of our board members and community members, as they participated in those many conversations about the core of our work. Those words came in answer to questions specifically about our values, as well as questions about the practical matters we were discussing, because at Creating the Future, those conversations always come back to walking the talk of our values.
- In addition, the words that follow came from people answering the question, "From our actions, what do YOU think we value?"
- And lastly, the words below derive from months of ongoing conversation as our board's role was defined as "integrity," ensuring we are walking the talk of our values.
Along with Catalytic Thinking, The Pollyanna Principles represent the core of values upon which all actions and decisions at Creating the Future are based.
- We accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for.
- Each and every one of us is creating the future, every day, whether we do so consciously or not.
- Everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent, whether we acknowledge that or not.
- “Being the change we want to see” means walking the talk of our values.
- Strength builds upon our strengths, not our weaknesses.
- Individuals will go where systems lead them.
- Unless something is physically impossible, it's possible.
At Creating the Future, our mission is systems change, so that the systems we encounter every day are creating conditions that advance everyone’s ability to thrive - creating a future that is different from our past, a world that works for everyone.
We recognize that many existing systems, conditions, and structures throughout the world are rooted in white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism, ableism and all "otherisms." These conditions have benefited white people, particularly white cis men, and have systemically extracted power, wealth, labor and resource from Black, indigenous, communities of color, people with disabilities, LGTBQIA people, and our planet as a whole. This has led to a level of inequity that prevents the majority of humans - and our planet - from thriving, and in too many cases, from even surviving.
We believe new systems that advance a healthy, humane, just, and equitable world for everyone are both needed and possible. We believe in the power of Catalytic Thinking and The Pollyanna Principles to lead towards that vision. And importantly, we believe that being the change we want to see means walking the talk of our values.
Our values (numbered for reference purposes only. Numbers do not indicate priority):
- We value thinking and actions that lead to visionary, systemic change over reactive, incremental thinking and results.
- We value learning, experimenting, risk-taking, inquiry, and sense-making, and broadly sharing what we learn in those endeavors.
- We value listening to understand, building trust and relationships, over speed and expediency
- We value decision-making by the people affected by any decision.
- We value centering the voices and agency of those who are most impacted by injustices.
- We value healthy people and our planet, recognizing the local and the global are intertwined.
- We value building upon social movements and other efforts that have successfully created systemic change, seeing those efforts as strengths upon which we can build.
- We value the collaborative work of many and the contributions of individuals to those efforts.
- We value sharing via Collective Enoughness, celebrating that together we have everything we need.
Statement of Our Values in Action
At Creating the Future, walking the talk of our values is the embodiment of our mission in action –making the world a more humane place to live, through the questions we ask in our day-to-day lives.
With Catalytic Thinking guiding all decisions and actions at Creating the Future, we can be an example of the humane, nurturing, joyful relationships we want to see in the world.
Whether at our website, in our classes, in our partnerships and projects, in our online or real-life communities of practitioners, in our emails and one-on-one conversations, in our meetings – wherever you encounter Creating the Future, this Statement of our Values in Action is the talk we strive to walk in every decision we make and every action we take…
Our Values in Action in Our RELATIONSHIPS
“Going slow makes things go smooth; going smooth makes things go fast.”
~ Edrie LaVoie
“The most favorable cause-and-effect conditions begin and end with bringing out the best in people vs. focusing on stuff (money, food, education).”
~ Core Tenets of Catalytic Thinking
At Creating the Future, we will create and actively maintain conditions that bring out the best in people, as our contribution to the humane world we want to see.
- Wherever people gather at Creating the Future, we will actively create conditions for conversation, so that people can get to know each other and build trust relationships. Wherever possible, we will actively introduce people of like spirit to each other, to continually strengthen the interconnected web of people seeking to create a more humane world.
- In every decision and action, we will ask, “Who else cares about this?” Recognizing that our work is one part of the greater global movement to create a more humane world, we will actively build relationships with individuals and groups who are also on that path. When we speak about accountability, we will see ourselves as accountable to all of humanity through that broader movement, and to each other.
- We will welcome people when they arrive, through whichever portal they find us, creating conditions for people to feel like they have found home.
- We will slow down to build relationships of trust, understanding that “fast” is the language of transaction, and “slow” is the language of trust. The foundation of any systems we build will include mutual accountability and mutual support, as that is what trust looks like in action.
- We will take the time to think and reflect together, to ask questions beyond the surface, to find the fit with people and ideas.
- We will create conditions that hold space for people in all situations, “walking alongside each person in whatever journey they’re on, with an open heart, without judgment.” (Heather Plett) We will take the time to get to know people as whole people (vs. just their position). We will invite them to share their story, so we can understand the context of each other’s lives. Because the only way to meet people where they are is to take the time to learn their story.
- We will favor inclusion and relationship vs. representation, inviting anyone who wants to participate in our decisions and actions. Per the statement supporting our open meetings, unless we are legally or morally obligated to close a meeting, our meetings will be open for anyone to participate. To further that inclusivity, we will be mindful to provide whatever information will help people feel prepared and up to speed, creating conditions for them to be at their best.
Our Values in Action in LEARNING and SHARING WHAT WE LEARN
“By focusing on learning, there is no failure. There is just learning.”
~ Hildy Gottlieb
“As an experiment, our focus is on learning what works, sharing what we learn, then documenting and sharing the results of those who take action based on those shared learnings.”
~ Creating the Future’s Program Description
At Creating the Future, we will create and actively maintain conditions for learning and sharing what we learn, as our contribution to the humane world we want to see.
- We will create and actively maintain systems for inquiry, exploration, conversation, and reflection.
- We will do our “internal” strategy and planning work openly, inviting participation from anyone who finds that work meaningful, to work beside us and co-create the results. This will build “sharing what we learn” into the day-to-day systems we use, while ensuring our own work is constantly learning from people from all corners of the greater movement to build a more humane world.
- We will infuse inquiry into every aspect of our work. We will ask, “Is that true?” to identify layers of assumptions (i.e. “That’s just how things are”), weighing those assumptions against testable and provable facts. We will identify and question cultural systems that keep people feeling stuck, valuing inquiry over prescriptions, dogma, and shoulds.
- We will actively share what we learn, as a key aspect of our mission and as a celebration of what is possible. Using our own internal work as an ongoing case study, as well as pilot / demonstration projects with other organizations and groups, we will share more than just our results. We will also be explicit about what created those results, to reinforce that there is no magic – that every person has the ability to create powerful results.
- We will actively encourage people to experiment with or without us, and to share what they learn, to build wisdom into all efforts to create a more humane world.
- Because the goal of sharing what we learn is that people apply those learnings in their own lives, we will share data (turning stories into patterns and aggregates) only within the context of stories of real people doing real things, so that people can learn not just THAT something worked, but HOW and WHY it worked.
- Recognizing that people learn in different ways, we will be mindful to share what we have learned in a variety of formats, and we will experiment with new technologies and formats as they are developed. We will provide opportunities for people to learn on their own, and we will invite people to join others in learning and practicing with others, to meet people where they are in their own journey of learning.
Our Values in Action in our DECISION-MAKING
“Ultimately, the best decision will be the decision that any member of our community could point to with enthusiastic pride.”
~ Creating the Future’s Board of Directors, December 2011
“Our power to create powerful results lies in our power to create favorable cause-and-effect conditions towards our dreams.”
~ Core Tenets of Catalytic Thinking
At Creating the Future, we will create and actively maintain conditions for our decisions to contribute to creating the humane world we want to see.
- We will hold ourselves accountable for aiming our decisions at the humane world we want to see. Because causality naturally creates ripples from cause to effect, we will be mindful that the language we use, the questions we ask and the order in which we ask them matters. We will therefore use Catalytic Decision-making to guide us from where we are to where we want to be, creating the chain of conditions that will lead to that high potential result.
- In every decision, we will be mindful to create what is possible vs. reacting to the present situation. Before brainstorming ideas, we will establish our desired high potential outcome and the cause-and-effect conditions that will lead to that outcome, to ensure that ideas are aligned with that high potential result.
- We will begin every decision-making conversation with Catalytic Listening, to understand the context of the situation, to be present without judgment, to confirm that we understand the values, strengths, and desired outcomes of the people in the situation. We will be mindful to listen in this way throughout any decision-making conversation, taking time periodically for reflection, to ensure everyone is on the same page and everyone’s voice is being included.
- We will be mindful of the possible consequences of any action by asking, “Who may be affected by this?” at every step. At the earliest possible point, we will invite those people into the conversation, to ensure we are making decisions with people, not for them.
- We will create and maintain systems for decisions to be made by the people who are most directly affected, trusting that the wisdom to make decisions resides with those individuals. With Catalytic Decision-making guiding them, we will unleash people to lead from the middle rather than waiting for permission. This local approach to decision-making will create conditions for accomplishing our 10-year mission; will bring out the best in those individuals; and will demonstrate distributed, participatory leadership in action, modeling the world we want to see.
- Because the most favorable conditions for success are those that bring out the best in people, our decisions will value trust relationships over transactional relationships, valuing people over stuff, especially money. We will favor decisions that strengthen the web of people co-designing and co-creating vs. going it alone.
- When faced with a variety of possible actions, we will determine which to choose by weighing those options against objective decision-making criteria. We will be mindful to determine the extent to which fear may be underlying a decision, using practices that help us identify and address those fears with equanimity. In this way, we will expand our comfort zone and strengthen our ability to work from a place of courage.
Our Values in Action in Our ACTIONS
“Each of us is creating the future every day, whether we do so consciously or not.”
~ Hildy Gottlieb, The Pollyanna Principles
“Together we have everything we need; it is only on our own that we experience scarcity.”
~ Tenets of Catalytic Thinking
At Creating the Future, we will undertake actions aimed at creating a more humane world, and we will actively create and maintain conditions for accomplishing together what none of us can accomplish on our own.
- To ensure our actions are aimed at creating favorable cause-and-effect conditions towards the future we want to create, we will use the practices of Catalytic Decision-making to determine those actions.
- In all our actions, we will be an example of the equitable, trust-based relationships we want to see in the world. Recognizing that transactional relationships are rooted in inequitable power dynamics, we will eschew resourcing approaches rooted in that inequity, favoring approaches that build upon our collective strengths.
- Because interconnectedness is a strength to build upon, we will ask, “Who else cares about this?” for every project we undertake, co-developing and co-creating that effort with them wherever possible. When we join together for a project, we will share of ourselves – our wisdom, experience, passion, curiosity, ideas, gratitude, joy, trust and shared values – before sharing of our stuff (our money, our connections, our stuff), because “creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts” happens when we value who people are more than we value what they have.
- We will create and maintain systems that root our work in a foundation of Collective Enoughness, asking, “What do we have together?” We will be mindful of the many assets and resources we have collectively that can be shared towards furthering our shared mission. By focusing first on resources that are abundant all around us, we will be creating conditions for bypassing the fear and reactivity that scarcity creates, enhancing our human capacity for reason and creativity.
- We will be clear to define the required resources for a project as the things we really need – people, ideas, stuff - noting that “money” is not a resource, but a placeholder for actual resources. To facilitate sharing from a place of enoughness, we will identify and “budget” for the actual things we need, not as line items with cash values, but as the resources themselves.
- We will be mindful to see every project we undertake as a resource in and of itself, asking, “What other results could this activity create?” As each activity becomes an asset to be strategically leveraged for maximum impact, we will be providing a burst of rocket fuel for accomplishing as much of our mission as possible with minimal additional effort. And we will be adding to the list of resources we have to share.
“The feeling of wealth is enhanced when you give, not when you take, since, subliminally, giving means you have enough to share, while taking means you may not be getting enough. Giving is a relief. Taking is a burden.” ~ Robert Thurman, Infinite Life
Our values in action in the SUPPORT SYSTEMS we create
“Individuals will go where systems lead them.”
~ Hildy Gottlieb, The Pollyanna Principles
“Creating the Future’s mission is to bring out the best in as many people as possible, in as many human systems as possible, through the questions people ask in their day-to-day lives.”
~ Creating the Future’s Mission Statement
At Creating the Future, we will create and actively maintain support systems that use causality to bring out the best in people and situations, aiming at what is possible and modeling the humane world we want to see.
- We will actively create and maintain systems for the organization to evolve and adapt, based on what we learn in all other areas of our mission.
- In all efforts at Creating the Future, we will be mindful that causality begins with our thoughts, and that those thoughts are rooted in language. We will therefore actively replace language that inadvertently triggers our brains’ fear centers, choosing instead language that activates our ability to create the future together. Further, we will share the “why” of those language choices as we notice them in conversation, as part of our mission to share what we have learned.
- We will actively create and maintain systems that distinguish clearly between means and ends. This will be especially important regarding financial matters, where financial reporting often overtakes mission-success-reporting, simply because there are no uniform systems for such reporting. For systems to bring out the best in people, we will strive to create and maintain systems that hold mission results as the most important measures of our success.
- We will actively create and maintain systems that allow for fluidity of personnel, so that the success of the mission is reliant upon systems rather than specific individuals.
- Finally, and most importantly, we will actively create and maintain systems that facilitate and align with the immense human potential described in this document. In contrast to situations where individuals feel they must “fight the system” to get things done, at Creating the Future, we will create and maintain systems that steward the work of anyone participating in any activity with Creating the Future, facilitating people in moving towards their own potential, while facilitating the forward motion of our mission.
Because being the change we want to see
means walking the talk of our values.