Tool no. 73. - Values Quest

This tool helps a team identify and agree on their common/shared values

Tool Purpose

  • This tool encourages a group to discover its shared values, when working together on a on a co-designed task.
  • It aims to help the group achieve a set of shared values through a process of negotiation.
  • The process facilitates the finding of a shareable, or apparently common, ground between participants’s personal and professional value systems.
  • These shared values become the keystones for this group’s collaboration and help foster a common culture.
  • The maps can prove valuable reference points as the group progresses into executing their task and can be a helpful reminder in case of disagreement.

Tool Context

  • Co-design can be difficult, in particular when members of a team must work across different professional practices, ethical codes and value systems.
  • This is tool is intended to be used when members of a group have only recently met.
  • It is intended to encourage an early phase in which individuals within a group feel able to 'bond' as a unified team.
  • It enables these individuals in a group to voice their particular personal and professional values in a playful way.
  • It allows the group to become familiar with each other’s values.
  • Through a process of voting and negotiation the group forges a collective identity by loosening their respective, individual perspectives and re-working them towards a shared belief system.


Tool Process

  • It is a tool that is best deployed with a facilitator, but can also be used just by the group.
  • The session takes place in the following order:

Generating values

  • Participants are asked to compile a list of three values/qualities that are important in their practice, and note each value on a post-it note.
  • Every value is copied three times, (the participant should have 9 post-it notes).
  • The facilitator collects the post-its and places them on a flipchart in a circle in no particular order.

Voting on values:

  • In turn, each participant is asked to vote on every value from a personal point of view by giving a score (one to four). 4 = most important, 3 = second most important etc.
  • Whilst the voting goes on an assigned person (scribe) notes the points on a tally and helps to count up the sums.
  • The facilitator arranges the 2nd set of post-its clockwise onto a circle on a new flipchart according to the highest scores.

Ranking the values:

  • Together the group ranks the values/qualities in order of importance to the task at hand through a process of negotiation.
    • a. Some entries may be combined and renamed - by consensus of all
    • b. Some entries may be omitted - by consensus of all
    • c. Some entries may be added - by consensus of all

Consolidating team values:

  • The group is asked to agree on the 6 most important values that will guide their teamwork.
  • The facilitator arranges the final 6 values (on post-its) in a circle on a new flipchart.
  • This shared value map represents the group's shared values parameters for working collectively.
  • The Resources required for this tool: markers, post-it notes, 3 big sheets of paper to draw circles on, paper to keep tallies.

Tool Example

parameter-tool1.png parameter-tool2.png parameter-tool3.png
Maps from Team 2 at the m21 Toolkit Workshop, Pines Calyx, 2008.

  • 1: Generating values
  • 2: Ranking values from a personal perspective
  • 3: Result of shared team values created by consensus (clockwise): Humour, lifespan, imagination and vision, trust, the wider context, navigating.

See further evaluation of the tool as used at Pines Calyx.

Tool History

  • The concept for this tool was outlined by JW in January 2008.
  • It assumes that the management of its self-identity is vital to an organism's survival.
  • This assumption was inspired by:
  • The tool was further developed for an m21 Toolkit Workshop that took place at Pines Calyx Workshop on 29th February and 1st March 2008



  • Maturana H. & Varela F. (1980), Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living. Reidel Publishing, (Boston).
  • Olins, W., (1989), Corporate identity: making business strategy visible through design, Thames & Hudson, (London)
  • Wittgenstein, L. (1953), Philosophical Investigations, Blackwell (Malden)
  • Wittgenstein, L. (1942), Blue and Brown Books, Harper Perennial (London)

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