When to use this exercise
Exploring your values is an exercise to explore what your core values in your work life are. It is a good exercise to use to initiate reflection and dialogue around the values we have around our team, company culture, or project. Yet, the exercise could also be used to define the values you have in other areas of your life.
The purpose of the exercise is to encourage the participants to follow their intuitive feeling rather than find the correct values. The exercise reveals what values are truly important to your team, which further initiates discussion and reflection over similarities and differences, and how to address them.
- Hand out sticky notes to each participant.
- Ask the participants to write down ten things, one on each of the sticky notes, that they value the most in their team or any other chosen topic. For example, “communication”, “enthusiasm”, “professionalism” – something they truly value in the context of the chosen topic.
- Once everyone has written down ten things, ask the participants to spread out the sticky notes in front of them so that they are clearly visible.
- Next, ask the participants to pick three sticky notes that are least important to them and throw them away within 30 seconds. Do not give more time as the purpose of this exercise is to use the gut feeling.
- Repeat the previous step but give them 20 seconds to throw away two more.
- Repeat the previous step one more time, giving them 15 seconds to throw away two more. Now each participant should have three sticky notes left with their most important values.
- Give the participants 10 minutes to reflect individually, then 30 minutes in pairs or groups. Questions to reflect on: What do I feel about the values I ended up with? Were they expected or did they surprise me? How do these values show themselves in my team (or in the chosen context)?
Online version: You can use this exercise remotely by replacing the sticky notes with a text editor or a presentation tool. In the online version, you ask the participants to write down their values on one page, whereafter values are removed in steps 4., 5. and 6. Finally, each participant is left with their three most important values on that page.