What will our values look like in action?

The Truth is  Closer Than It AppearsIt’s been an intense and energizing few days, exploring with a pair of brilliant visionary strategists with whom every exploration seems to lead to even more exploration.

The question that arose early in our time together was this: “How can we support each other’s work in as integrated a fashion as possible?”

The wording of the question itself is important. Much of what both our groups are working on is about blurring the lines that divide us all – divide people from each other in survival fears, divide businesses from each other in competitive win/lose fears, divide the community benefit world from the business world from the government world from communities themselves…

Pollyanna Principles #3 notes that “Everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent, whether we acknowledge that or not.”  As we strive to put all 6 of the Pollyanna Principles into action in everything we do, the wording of the question we colleagues have been asking has even more meaning.

What does integrated, whole, connected support look like among and between individual organizations, people, communities, nations?

As I sat with that question this morning, Peter Block’s book The Answer to How is Yes jumped to mind as I asked this question aloud to the dog:

What if the most affirming, forward-moving answer to “How will we do X?” is, “What would our values look like in action regarding X?”

How can we end poverty? How can we create equitable healthcare in the US? How can our organization collaborate more meaningful with others? How can we balance our organization’s budget with funding cuts again this year?

Could it be that it is that simple – that the path will become clear if we simply ask, “What would our values look like in action regarding poverty, healthcare, collaboration, budget decisions?”

I’m not asking this rhetorically – I would really like to experiment with this, to see what we might all learn together and from each other’s experiments.

So will you give it a try and report back what you find?  If there’s a problem you’ve been wrestling with, will you see what happens if you ask that question?  And then please note in the comments here the results, good or bad.  I promise to do the same.

Photo Info: The Truth Is Closer Than It May Appear (shot by Hildy in Southern Illinois)

4 thoughts on “What will our values look like in action?”

  1. No kidding. Which allows for the conversation to be about shared values, because there are clearly values both sides share. Like perhaps simply the ability to live in safety? Yes, you’ve got my brain moving as usual, Rich!

  2. Good thinking behind these questions Hildy. I look forward to the reponses. One of my recent conversations with my dog had me pursuing the notion of “community” as a vehicle for many of the common values inherent in tackling things like poverty, violence, inequity in public services. Can we draw community lines differently in order to bring values to the fore? Maybe it starts with the simple notion that “if you hurt ONE in our community, you hurt ALL in our community”. Abuse a child, neglect an elder, beat a spouse…you offend our shared values and threaten us (as a community) – the potential contributions these community members can/would/should make that are lost or curtailed…the stolen vitality of a community…the cost of our required responses…
    I think values that are shared, connected, integrated are more likely to get traction that moves us forward in pursuing issues like the ones you have mentioned. Organizational values are a step up from individual values in this sense…may community values is the next step?

  3. Karen:
    I love the notion of community / shared values. And again, what do those values look like in action?

    And I would be remiss if I didn’t ask – did your dog agree with your thinking? MY dog wants to know!


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