Map Your Meaning Exercise

One of the clearest ways to make sure all team members have the same understanding of your values is to “map” what you mean by them.

To get started, at a staff retreat or meeting, write the name of one value in the center of a whiteboard or flip chart. Ask, “When we say ACCOUNTABILITY, what do we mean?” Surround the value with the responses you receive.

As participants grow quiet, ask them to think about their responses again from the perspective of clients or customers, from the community, from others within the organization.

Ask them to consider role-specific applications of the value. For example, “What does it mean to be accountable with finances? How does that differ from being transparent with strategic plans or internal communications?

Whenever possible, ask people to elaborate on their responses and write down key words or phrases. Make special note of the language your team members use to describe a specific value. Pause to allow time for story-telling as an illustration of the values.

In the end, you’ll have a full white board of meaning around the value, with little ambiguity.

More information regarding the Map Your Meaning process and exercise can be found at the Center for Values-Driven Leadership.