Book Aid International

Developing shared values at an international charity: Getting the whole organisation in the room.

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 

Challenge

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.

Approach

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.

Outcome

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.

Book Aid International

“Metalogue’s approach, using storytelling to surface employee’s experiences, was a perfect alignment to some of the most important work we do in providing story books to children around the world. All staff at Book Aid International were immediately able to identify with the importance of a story and how we can use stories to influence and learn. The preparation, workshop, and finalisation of our values was clearly and expertly delivered. Metalogue listened to what we wanted, were persuasive in their approach and were integral to us being able to articulate who we are as an organisation. We were very happy with Metalogue throughout the process but especially happy to arrive at the four values we hold with such authenticity.”

Rebekah Deboo, HR Manager & Company Secretary

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