Holistic Organizational Values

I wrote this while on a train to Newcastle, and found myself increasingly distracted by the adorable lambs peppering the landscape, so this may be a bit rambly and please bear with me. 

I’ve had some wonderful visits with Depaul UK and some of their great partner organizations, which I’m excited to share in future posts. But the past several days I’ve been reflecting a lot on resilience and how the values we set forth organizationally impact our ability to support resilience and therefore underpin all of our work.

In my opinion, one of the things that Depaul does well (and is committed to continued growth in) is how they incorporate their values into their work. A few years back, they completed a major value-based assessment and have remained committed to further incorporating and formalizing what they learned then in their work today.

This work of instilling their values into every facet of their organization lays out the framework for ensuring that the various services and housing all have the same foundation. I think this is both an ethical move and a strategic one.

How does any organization ensure that their mission and values are accurately reflected in all they do? How do we ensure that our organizational values are instilled in every department, in every area of our work, and down to the tiniest of interactions? How do we ensure that our values drive our use of physical space and the policies/procedures we create? And not just that, but how do we ensure that we are not only treating those we serve with those same values and mission, but one another within the organization? This is why I really like the practices approaches of the Sanctuary Model and Trauma-Informed Care.

Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising to most of us. We know that integrating one’s values into the rest of their organizational life is both valuable and effective. And there are many great organizations doing this–in Philly and nationally, one which I have the pleasure of working for and others the privilege of partnering with.

There is much research on this and much more coherent writings than mine, so writing this feels a bit redundant. But for this visit, it feels foundational to everything I’ve learned.

There are lots of practical tools, knowledge, programmatic work, and community-level planning that I will take with me after this visit, but I will also carry back the visceral experience of seeing how this organization consistently works to be values-based. Not just an organization that creates space for value-based people to fill its ranks, but an organization itself that carries within its very systems the same values it seeks to instill in its work.

This visit is challenging me to be more self-reflective in my own vocation and to ensure that Project HOME’s values and mission are accurately reflected in my work and my interactions.

Yesterday I visited the Whitley Bay office and a residential site and today I’m headed to Newcastle for some visits. Then, back to London for Friday.

How do you, dear reader, try and instill organizational values throughout your systems and institutions? What makes it so hard?


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