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02 May 2024

Learning in and on the value process: Part 1: Development fields - managers, employees, organizational patterns

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This blog describes the learning areas that can become significant in the course of an intensive engagement with the topic of "values" in the company and then devotes the second part to the important role of managers in the resilient anchoring of corporate values.

The development and introduction of values can be an effortless or an intensive process. If it is intensive, it will reveal all the important learning areas in which the company and its employees should develop so that the (new) values are actually "lived" - to repeat the frequently used metaphor.

So that values have an impact: The development fields on the way there - and what should ideally be achieved in the field

Learning field managers

The decisive factor here is the extent to which managers take responsibility for the values process in a way that is visible and credible to everyone, with energy and on a permanent basis. 
The organization is very attentive from the outset,

  • whether all managers are "getting stuck in" or whether they are "handing over" responsibility for the new values to HR;
  • Whether the managers have the necessary energy to translate the values into their organizational units or whether they are "very busy at the moment";
  • Whether they try to overcome any difficulties that arise in the process through their own commitment, or whether they complain about "this issue" or "unclear tasks" or "the others". And - particularly important
  • whether managers really take the indissoluble link between strategy, culture and structure seriously and take it into account accordingly.

If an organization has a need for development in this area of learning, then in our view the goal must be for all managers involved to fully support the following statement and apply it consistently to guide their actions: 

"We clearly accept our responsibility in the process of strategy implementation and value introduction".

Learning field: employees

Especially in historically grown, hierarchical family businesses, employees are often accustomed to an imbalance in communication: their input is requested, but in many cases their suggestions are not implemented. Their criticism is formally requested, but in direct communication, the ideal of "at eye level" often remains a pious wish without realization. Long experience of this form of cooperation can lead to learned helplessness and apathy, but also to a blaming of "those at the top" that is all too easy. Coupled with a longing for a "we" that is supposed to have existed in the glorified, good old days.

If an organization has a need for development in this area of learning, then in our view the goal must be for the organization to create an appropriate framework in which all employees involved can fully support the following statement and apply it consistently:

"We experience every day and especially in crucial situations that we have influence, responsibility and OWNership in relation to the topic of values; we have real control over our actions."

Learning field: "patterns" or "existing values" 

Often, a new or supplemented value framework aligned with the future strategy will collide with the previously valid (implicit or explicit) corporate values. The conflict between the old DNA and a future value orientation offers great opportunities for development - or the chance to fail. 

The patterns that can emerge here are as diverse and individual as the organizations and people within them. Here are two examples to illustrate this:

Example pattern: over-engineering and perfectionism. 

Anything that does not fit 120% or does not contribute equally to all strategic goals is discussed at length and in great detail, outsourced to small groups for further development, and what has been established is called into question again. At some point during this process of formulating future corporate values, the air literally "runs out". Not to mention the fact that in a process of translating values into the system, which also requires trials and loops, there is no environment available that can "withstand" such an iterative approach. The positive energy boost that values can provide in the strategy implementation phase becomes impossible. 

2. example pattern: conflict outsourcing, e.g. to the external consultant, to the process, to the employees
Certain factors are blamed to an excessive degree for the fact that the process is not making progress. "If we had a different approach or a different consultant or different employees, then ." In reality, however, there are other - more significant and often unconscious - reasons behind the lack of progress. These can have very different origins: hidden/unconscious conflicts or power issues, beliefs or even elements of the company's values and standards system. 

If an organization has a need for development in this learning area, then in our view the goal must be to develop the company's willingness to reflect on what is currently happening in the implementation process, to observe recognizable communication and conflict patterns or conflicting basic beliefs, to make a joint diagnosis and then derive constructive conclusions from this.

And no, this is not always easy. If, for example, "lack of openness" is a fixed element of the "old culture", then reflection is a real challenge: how do you talk about "lack of openness" in a "non-open culture"? A dilemma!
 But progress is only possible if we approach these issues together, patiently and respectfully. And if everyone is convinced that this progress is needed, then at least the door to this discussion is open to some extent.

Über die Autorin

Dr. Diana Astashenko, Full Stack Consultant. Kennt sich mit dem Frontend (Workshops, Prozessmoderationen, Coachings) ebenso aus wie mit dem Backend (Prozessarchitektur, Workshopdesign, Inhaltliche Weiterentwicklung). Inhaltliche Schwerpunkte: Strategieentwicklung, Strategieumsetzung, Digitale Didaktik und Megatrends. Gelernte Soziologin und Pädagogin. Von Natur aus neugierig auf (fast) alles.

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