From the emaillist, May 2015.
Dear AoH colleagues,
During the writing of my dissertation I sought to develop a list of principles and values that reflect both an Art of Hosting and relational constructionist approach to the work we do. I offer the listing here in the spirit of sharing, invitation for reflection and opportunity for further co-creation.
These two words are often used interchangeably and sometimes one is used to define the other, so we could get into all kinds of deep weeds around your question. For me, as I reflected on the difference and developed the list, I equated principles more with modes of action – how we go about our work or a characteristic of behavior – and values more in an axiological sense as in the realm of how we valuate something (i.e. how we determine what is good or evil to us or what is beautiful or not to us) so how might we evaluate our work, what is ethical, moral, or aesthetic.
And, all of this could be challenged, that’s the beauty of philosophical exploration.
and more interesting contributions!
To put an alternative view, from the perspective of natural language philosophy, there’s the old adage, “ ‘Beliefs’ are for things that aren’t true. ‘Values' are for what you don’t do.”
Beliefs and values are abstract concepts that are prized by consultants who seem to have fallen under the spell of psychologists.
They in turn entice leaders and HR people to waste millions every year on identifying beliefs and values in their organisations. And possibly embark on programs variously to understand them, challenge them or change them.
Another way of dealing with ‘beliefs’ and ‘values’ is to stop treating them as if they were real things like IT systems or pay packets (which it can make sense to understand or to change). Instead look at how the words are used in everyday language - that is in normal speech rather than as technical terms in pseudo-brain-science or management jargon.
People only bother to say they believe in something when there’s a good chance that what they say they believe is likely to be challenged. For example, ‘I believe in homeopathy’, ‘The politician believes in strong monetary policy’, ‘Do you believe in God?'
And values are invoked (in organisations) when there’s a strong prospect that they are not being implemented. When an organisation tells you that their top value is safety or putting the customer first, or a colleague mentions their integrity or respect, you’d better watch out. If those don’t go without saying, you are entitled to be suspicious.
We can then ask relatively simpler questions, such as ‘What do you want to achieve?’ or ‘Is this a worthwhile project?’; relatively simpler because there’s no need to visit the complicating layer of ‘beliefs’ and ‘values’. I see heuristics and guidelines as practical lists derived from what works well on specific projects. If something else then turns out to work better, we adapt what we do and adapt the heuristic.
In Human Systems Dynamics, we use simple rules (or seed behaviors as many like to call them.) The behaviors that set conditions, together, for the kind of system-wide patterns you want (no matter the scale of the system.) You might find this helpful: http://wiki.hsdinstitute.org/simple_rules
More from the emaillist:
Hello Bhavesh and community. I really appreciate this piece about parables and stories. Folk tales and fairy tales and the "once long ago" or "way back when stories" really do hold a lot of meaning, that can be digested in many ways. And they are inspiring and can be used in a spacious way that allows for diversity and the shared exploration of meaning and mystery. Thanks Bhavesh. Rose
Ah yes. One of the reasons why the story of hobbits has traveled through our community over the year is that it contains many lessons about "mateship" trust and having each other's back. The lord of the rings is sort of a users guide to the kind of community of practice that we see among AoH practitioners. This particular parable contains much essential information that would be lost in a traditional terms of reference. Chris Corrigan
onward hobbits, fairies, trees, humans, wizards and dwarfes, the journey never have would have succeeded without all of you and your special gifts and flaws... rose
Happy to share and here are a couple of blogs to dig a bit deeper: