Explore shared values. Such a seemingly simple tip, but a very powerful one. But value-based approaches matter even if there isn’t time (or the will) for an explicit exploration. In my own facilitation, I’ve generally tried to include something to get people thinking about what values they share – or don’t – right from the start. This isn’t always explicit: it could be done very powerfully, for example, through a round of stories, which in itself indicates that people in the group do have differences of motivation, value and perspective that need to be respected. Some groups will resist doing too much by way of ‘contracting’ at the level of behaviour, let alone discussing underlying values. If such groups – or the people commissioning a piece of facilitation – don’t want to spend too much time on explicitly addressing values (and time is often a concern), at the very least, a value-based element can help participants get in the right mindset for the topic of discussion, or enable them to draw more powerfully on their own sources of motivation, as well as, as Matthew says on the Rhizome blog, facilitating the discovery of underlying blocks or tensions if explored further. If potential value clashes can’t be dealt with now, at least they should wherever possible be outed. Either way, there’s nothing (to me!) so unhelpful as to start people talking about a topic without reflecting even briefly on why they are there in the room – which is always to embody certain values via the outcomes that the group decides it wants to see. It’s so common to see this ignored in business meetings, and shouldn’t happen in well-facilitated groups (though I’m sure I haven’t always followed my own advice here!). It’s a bit like not introducing people in the room. Why would you allow that to happen?
Craig Freshley’s latest Good Group Tip popped into my inbox this morning. As ever, a useful reminder of what makes a good group. This time Craig talks about shared values – something we also talk about from time to time. He says:
In principle, values are those things most important to us, the things we value. For most people, they are ideals, beliefs, rules to live by. We are generally drawn to people who share our values. At the core of every defined group of people are shared values.
Practical Tip: Discuss values as a group and make a written, short, agreed-to list of the values you have in common. Simply having a discussion about values helps us understand each other. Deciding which values we share defines our group and helps people decide if they want to join the group and it also helps people decide to leave. A written…
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