Book Aid international is a successful charity, with 185 international partners allowing them to ship over a million books each year. The leadership team wanted to surface and articulate the values that they felt made the charity effective and a unique place to work, and ensure these could be maintained into the future
The organisation has a strong culture and clear sense of purpose, which the CEO and Board were very keen to protect and even reinforce. Their hope was that by articulating the values that were at the heart of the charity they would reinforce a shared sense of unity and commitment to its cause.
We felt it would be important that our work led to a set of values that would stand the test of time and will guide behaviours, decisions and changes in the future. We used storytelling as a basis for our approach because of its power in communicating values and linking them with employees’ experience, and designed an event that brought together everyone in the organization for a day. International teams and those that worked on the night shift participated in an upfront inquiry where they were asked to share stories of high points and crises from their time at Book Aid.
The day itself involved small groups working in storytelling circles. In the first round they shared stories with each other; in the second, they were asked to highlight key themes and values that were implicit in how individuals behaved across the stories. The whole group then came together to cluster the themes and name the clusters. The day concluded with each participant making a commitment to how they would amplify the values across the Charity.
A small team led by the CEO and the HRD used the work of the event to produce a written statement on the Charity’s values. These were presented to and signed off by the Board. As a result of this process, everyone in the across the team has a much stronger awareness of what is important and needs to be upheld..
There is now a clear articulation of four values, “Respect”, “Empathy”, “Accountability” and ”Dedication” that all employees played a role in identifying, and an action plan supported by everyone is bringing the values to life.
This has further strengthened trust, openness and engagement across the Charity. These values also help guide the leadership team and board in decision making about the future of the charity.