A nonprofit contemporary arts center with ~80 employees
What We Did
Designed and led workshop to help identify and articulate core values and inspire employees to embody values in day-to-day work
Embedded value-driven behaviors in internal culture; strengthened teamwork, problem solving, and connection to mission
Core Values Identification & Articulation Workshop Strengthens Internal Culture and Engagement
A nonprofit contemporary arts center in a major metropolitan city found itself struggling to clearly articulate who they were and what they offered to their community. Over the span of two decades the center sponsored and hosted a broad range of initiatives, programs, and events, but the mix of activities left the public with a general lack of understanding about what exactly the organization stood for. As a nonprofit that relies on community support, the center worked hard to refine its brand and improve engagement. However, something was still missing.
In order to more fully engage their target external audiences, they realized they needed to enlist and engage their own employees. They wanted to inspire and align employees behind the vision and brand, so who they represented to the outside community was also represented through their internal culture and drove the way they approached their work.
WHAT WE DID
Blue Beyond created a strategy and plan to evolve and strengthen culture and employee engagement at the organization. After assessing the current state culture by conducting a series of interviews with leaders and managers, the crux of our work centered around clarifying a future state culture aspiration — including refreshing values in alignment with the vision and brand — to give everyone a common language around who and what they aspired to be and why.
Core Values Identification & Articulation Workshop
- Designed and facilitated a custom two-hour workshop during an all-staff retreat to help employees identify the values they felt best represented who they were and who they aspired to be when they’re at their best
- Guided groups of employees in a card sorting exercise using the Blue Beyond Values Cards™ — a comprehensive card deck featuring more than 90 common organizational values each listed on a single card
- Encouraged collaboration, healthy debate, and enthusiasm as employees zeroed in on core values, expressed what was important to them and why, and described what these values look like in action
- United team in the process as they realized similarities, respected different perspectives, and developed a greater sense of awareness of the attributes that made them strong
Following the workshop, we synthesized what we heard, and worked with a core team to review the data. We looked at what values rose to the top most frequently, and were able to easily work through a process to further refine them. We determined four key values and related statements that described what these values looked like in action. Being explicit about identifying “value-driven behaviors” gave employees clear guidelines about not only what leadership expected, but what leadership felt was essential to achieving success.
Feedback from participants following the workshop was overwhelmingly positive. 86 percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed the exercise and discussion “helped me understand how naming our values enables us to articulate who we are when we’re at our best.”
What workshop participants said:
“The exercise was helpful in reminding me why we’re here and that we all share these values, despite our different daily routines.”
“The card decks really helped me get into the values exercise… I think they also established a shared language in my group that we may have struggled to come up with on our own.”
The workshop, analysis, and assessment work also uncovered new insights that would improve the way the organization operated moving forward. Employee data revealed that greater alignment and collaboration were needed in order to deliver on the mission and goals. A team of leaders was assembled with a charter to break down silos and encourage cross-departmental collaboration and big-picture thinking. This also led to important strategic decisions that impacted the organization’s structure as well as future community programs. While some of these decisions were tough to make, they were driven by the core values of who they are and who they aspire to be, leading to new opportunities in direct alignment with the organization’s mission.