The Power of Values and the need for “Value Management”
Illustration of the various systems of values, that humans are part of (Sørensen, 2016)
THE SHORT ONE:
Values are everywhere. Values are extremely powerful. Values steer our thinking and behaviour, everyday – in our everyday lives, in our families, in our workplaces, in our societies.
Today we are still dominated by the values that belong to the Industrial Age. We are in the middle of a paradigm shift, but this paradigm shift is very abstract – how does it look, what does it mean, what does it mean to me and my everyday life?
I claim, we need greater awareness about values – and at various levels – the overall paradigmatic changing values, the value systems in organisations, and last not least our general as well as individual values as a human being.
We need to ask questions like: What matters to me? What is meaningful to me? How can I transform my values, my talents and my passions into an ’employee value proposition’, that adds value in an organisation?, or a ‘citizen value proposition’ that adds value in society? etc. What is my contribution in life? How can I of how do I create meaning in life?
We all have to contribute and create meaning in our own lives and in our societies. This is a very important and central element in life. The reason why we are not ‘used to it’ roots exactly in the values of the Industrial Age. And that is why I accentuate that we have to create more awareness about this paradigmatic shift.
THE LONGER ONE:
The values in the Industrial Age focused on human beings as ‘a thing’ or ‘a machine’ together with ‘a realist perspective’ on the world, that there is only one, objective world and ‘truth’ and knowledge and intelligence were associated with rationality, describing how things are, not how they possibly could be neither how we were sensing or feeling the world, as only rational knowledge was ‘real’ knowledge. Moreover we were asked to solve problems and assignment in one specific way (sorry, but this is still common both in public schools and even in universities today) That is what professor in psychology Ellen Langer calls a single perspective, we learn to see the world in one single way, instead of seeing and creating new perspectives….and various other issues…anyway that is the reason why, we never got used to or learned how to create meaning, find our own way, our values, talent, passions…It´s about time now! And that is the reason why I claim we need employees to become
Creators & Co-creators – Creators of meaning, and creators of possibilities and creators in the sense of bringing things to life.
Today the world is getting increasingly complex and wicked (no simple solution) and that is why we cannot solve our problems anymore, we need a new approach, we need see our problems from new perspectives, we need to reframe them, in order to be better at solving them. Central in this activity is seeing problems from various and new perspectives. As Einstein was said, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created the problems”, which means we have to go beyond the dominant logic (and dominant value) and reframe this. An example, For years Danish hospitals have struggled with long waiting list. This lead to various types of efficiency improvement, doctors were doing surgery also at night, patients were being sent home as quick at possible etc. From all the measurements and from an economical perspective the problem was solved after some years, the only problem was that the was no measuring on the patients. Nobody knew how their experiences were. Today the Danish hospital service is undergoing ‘a revolution’, in the sense that the now are changing focus to the patient, which is a total different perspective and a total different way of approaching the problem with waiting list and increasing costs.
Thus we need to co-create solution and we need to become co-creators in the sense, creating together with other people, as they represent other perspectives! Also in businesses.
The paradigmatic shift is an abstract phenomenon, how does it look to you? How are you affected by the Industrial Age values and mindset? Values are dominating our thinking and behaviour unconsciously, so we might think we are openminded to new knowledge e.g., but in reality we often are not. Everyone should be aware of how he/she is dominated by the values of the Industrial Age and also ‘see’ how these values dominate in our society, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our private homes. This is what I call value clarification (part of Value Management) which was central in my Ph.d. (2011).
We need to take leadership ourselves, leadership creates strong human beings, having others to take leadership, creates passive but also anxious human beings, because you cannot see or understand where you are going and why. And this is what I call: “Value Management” (- see other side for elaboration, please).