Explaining our tagline: Values-based change for the evolving organisation

Let’s take a few moments to break our tagline into digestible pieces. What do we mean by “values”, “values-based change”, and “for the evolving organisation”?


Some might try to dismiss values as somehow “fluffy”, but this could not be further from the truth. Values bring together all of these:

  • What we hope for
  • What we actually do, how we do it, and the things we use in order to do it
  • The results we expect

To get a sense of their power, just think of the embarrassment you feel when you let things slip and your behaviour is not in accordance with your (or your colleagues) most strongly-held values. Think also of the cynicism generated when the corporate rhetoric does not match the reality that staff observe day to day. Values really do matter!

Values-based change

Values-based change is about narrowing the gap between the values we claim (so-called espoused values) and the behaviours and results we currently observe.

Suppose for example that we claim to value transparency* but our organisation lacks effective mechanisms for generating and acting on feedback. Let’s begin to do something about that! Or perhaps we espouse balance* but we have demand and capability mismatched that individuals and teams are hopelessly overburdened? Let’s face up to that challenge!

Not that it is for some external agent (me, say) to dictate which values or prompts should receive priority — that’s a question typically best answered the people who are going to make that change happen; they can make choices based on feasibility, impact, and alignment. And who better to than them to work out the details of the specific actions that will bring the change about?

*These are the first two categories in our first template, the Values-based delivery assessment. Try it in survey form here: Depth of Kanbanland 2015.

The evolving organisation

You’ve heard it before: we live in a competitive and fast-changing world; only the fittest survive. But how many organisations invest in their their ability to change? All too often, they’re content to follow the herd or to wait until change is imposed on them. Survival tactics maybe, but hardly strategies for success!

Adaptable organisations go beyond mere words, and have in place the tools, the rhythms and the management support to ensure that change is a normal part of doing business. And not just a succession of defined projects, but something that continues to happen at every level of the organisation.

Putting the pieces together

Values-based change for the evolving organisation means deliberately and continually narrowing the gap between the values we (currently) claim and the behaviours and results we currently observe.

It is a start with what you do now* approach. It’s neither a “follow the herd” nor a “let fate decide” approach, but a determined commitment to pursue evolutionary change*. Nor is it an easy option; it’s one that both requires and develops leadership at every level*.

[*These are references to what I label the understandingagreement, and leadership principles of the Kanban Method. The fourth and final foundational principle — the respect principle — I hope goes without saying! You can learn more in our 1-day class: Values-based change with Agendashift and the Kanban Method]

Interested in applying values-based change in your organisation? Get in touch!

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