Warning! Warning! Warning! Danger Will Robinson! That was what the robot would say to the young boy in the TV series Lost in Space, with his arms flying in the air, up and down, up and down.
When I was a young boy, I really enjoyed that TV series and related to Will Robinson because I wanted to be an astronaut.
Just like Will, we can encounter danger too. I guess right now, I'm waving my arms up and down in an effort to warn you about a commonly available values identification tool.
Before I share a word of caution and a warning, I would like to review four key principles about core values:
- The core values of an organization usually come from the top of the top of the organization, e.g. founder, the owner, the CEO, or even the department head.
- You do not “set” your core values. You have to (and can) discover them!
- Discovering your core values is a process not an event. This process should take weeks or even months. It is important to not skip the process!
- Every company has values, even if they haven’t been discovered yet.
I’ve made a simple Values Discovery Worksheet for you to use in your own core values journey. It’s FREE, and you can download it immediately by <clicking here>. Feel free to print it or save it for your own use.
Every leader can avoid some likely pitfalls if they resist the temptation to short-cut the journey required to discover their core values.
I consider the use of “value cards” to be one such short-cut!
Run in the opposite direction when someone suggests that you use “value cards” to discover your values.
While the users of these cards are no doubt sincere, I believe the cards should come with a warning from the Surgeon General: WARNING – Use these cards at your own risk!
So what are value cards, how are they used, and why not use them?
What are value cards?
- They are a tool. The cards contain words describing values that are important to some people.
- They usually cost between $20 to over $100. (some are offered for free)
- The decks range from about 50 cards to over 300 cards.
- Yes, there is some science behind the words on the cards.
How are they used?
You sort these cards into several piles depending on how important each one is to you.
The ones that seem to hold the most value are placed in the “most important” pile, all the way down to the cards that are the least important to you, which are placed in the “not important” pile.
As you sort and rank the cards, you ultimately narrow your focus to the “most important” cards, which are said to represent your values.
Why not use them?
- When we are presented with a lot of great values listed for our review, we tend to select values that have a certain appeal, vs actually identifying our own, bone deep values. There can be a big difference between what we aspire to be and “who we are”.
- Discovering our values requires a process, lasting over weeks or months, to understand “who am I?”. This process should not be rushed into one session with value cards (an event).
- There's additional risk when gather your leadership team, who may have a variety of core values, into a conference room for a single ‘values discovery' event.
- Leaders are always trying to save time! You may see the value cards as a great way to “get’er done”, so you can move on to the next burning issue. Life is filled with bad decisions that were made with good intentions BUT misguided expedience.
If you have used “value cards” before, could I suggest you read my previous blog post, See How Easily You Can Validate Your Values!? In that post, you'll find the seven questions you can ask yourself to validate your core values.
Have you ever used “value cards” to find your core values? What was the outcome of that experience? Do you sense the core values you found by using “value cards” are truly authentic? Please share your comments <here>.