Finding shared values

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—Discovering what is most important to us.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

What values do the group members share?

Do you know what is most important to you? Have you clarified your values? Can you list of your most important values? What might the others in your group value? What values do you share? Where are there disagreements? What is the basis of those disagreements? Is it possible to come together and find common ground?

Discovering shared values within a group can be a challenging but rewarding process. This short course describes a simple process that may be as difficult to complete as it is rewarding.[1]

Objectives[edit | edit source]

The objective of this course is to assist groups in discovering the values they share.

This course is part of the Coming Together curriculum, which is part of the Applied Wisdom curriculum.

If you wish to contact the instructor, please click here to send me an email or leave a comment or question on the discussion page.

The Process Steps[edit | edit source]

Follow these steps to help the group find the values they share. Adjust the steps to meet the skills and experience of the group members.

  1. Gather the group and introduce this process. Share your reasons for engaging the group in this activity. Invite an open discussion and seek to engage each group member’s participation in this work. Listen for dissent and fully and candidly address each issue. Anticipate that this process may extend over several days or weeks.
  2. Ask everyone in the group to complete the course Clarifying values.
  3. Ensure each person has a written list of their 5-7 most important values. This will have been created as part of the assignment in the Clarifying values course.
  4. Ask each person in the group to compete the Practicing Dialogue course.
  5. After each participant has completed the Practicing Dialogue course, invite group members to discuss how dialogue differs from other forms of conversation.
  6. Gather the group and ask each person to share their list of 5-7 values. Hold an open discussion. Invite each person to describe how they chose those values and why these are important to them.
  7. Look for commonalities: Once everyone has shared their values, look for areas where there is agreement or overlap. People may be using different words to describe similar values. Work to uncover these areas of agreement.  This can help the group identify shared values that can be used as a foundation for decision-making.
  8. Invite pairs of participants to engage in dialogue. Practice dialogue to explore each list of values. During the dialogue explain what each value means to you, and why you have chosen this value as important. Invite the dialogue partner to do the same. Continue practicing dialogue until both dialogue partners have completed discussing each of the lists and answered each other’s questions.[2]
  9. Revise your values list based on the insights you gained during this dialogue session.
  10. Continue pair-wise dialogue sessions until each participant has had a chance to explore their values list with others who have differing lists. If the group is large, this may be impractical. In that case, invite each person to choose one or two dialogue partners to work with.
  11. Revise your values list based on the insights you gained during this dialogue session.
  12. Meld the individual lists into one list that contains all the values collected from each individual’s list.
  13. Discuss the resulting list as a group.
  14. Use cumulative voting to establish the priority order of the combined list. Share the resulting prioritized list with the group.
  15. Simplify. Albert Einstein advised us to make everything as simple as possible but no simpler.[3] Seek a simple statement that elegantly captures the essence of your intent. No design is complete until there is nothing else that can be removed. Work to find that elegance. Simplify the resulting lists, statements, and declarations until they elegantly reveal your intent.
  16. Ask each person if they understand and are able to support the resulting list. Work to identify and understand any lack of consensus. The dialogue and revision process may have to be repeated if consensus has not yet been reached.
  17. Test the resulting list by noticing if decisions the group makes are consistent with the list. If not, continue to revisit and refine the list, or use the list more effectively in influencing the group's decision making.
  18. Congratulate the team for their good work.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ChatGPT contributed to this course.
  2. A process such as Socratic speed dating can be helpful here.
  3. See Quote Investigator, Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler