Hello, TRIBErs! The following is the text of Fiopa Consensus Collective’s brochure on our facilitated process to help groups identify, define and use their commonly held values in a Values-Based Consensus process.–Wren Tuatha

The Initial Values Process

How a Group Identifies and Defines Values Held in Common for Values-Based Consensus

You are beginning a journey, an experiment. No one in your group has been through this before. Wren Tuatha and C.T. Butler (aka Fiopa Consensus Collective) want to take this time to outline the entire process of how a Values-Based group identifies and defines the common values that will become the basis of its decisionmaking process. You’re receiving this pamphlet at the beginning of a multi-meeting, ongoing process. The initial journey of coming up with a working list of values will take several weeks, and involve individual reflection, one-on-one checkins, small group discussion and large group consensus decision-making.


Individual Want/Need Values Exercise

You’ll be given a list of “value words” to prompt your imagination. It is in no way a complete list, just examples of the “meta” words that represent values. Unless you arrived late, you will be given at least 20 minutes for the following process, which is done individually, in a quiet environment.

You’ll hear how values differ from goals, strategies and outcomes. “Green Building,” is a strategy for practicing the value of “sustainability,” for example. We’re only looking for the values underneath our goals, strategies and outcomes right now. You’ll get to that other content later.

Make two columns on a piece of paper. Label one “NEED” and the other “WANT.”

In thinking about the group you’re forming, what values do you personally hold that you need to be group values, they’re your non-negotiables; without them, you might not be able to be in this group. List them under “NEED.”

Which of your values would you like to be common, but if they’re not, you’ll be able to adjust. You won’t have to leave the group, but you think they’re important. List them under “WANT.”

[Note: C.T. Lawrence Butler’s book, On Conflict and Consensus, lists and defines these eleven values as being inherent and embedded in the structure of consensus: Trust, Respect, Unity of Purpose, Nonviolence, Self Empowerment, Cooperation, Conflict Resolution, Commitment to the Group, Active Participation, Equal Access to Power, and Patience.

If you don’t resonate with one or more of these values, consider referring to the book for C.T.’s definition. If you’re still uncomfortable after discussing it with group members, it is likely the consensus process is not for you. You’re not out of the game, though. Consider form- ing your own group that uses voting, Sociocracy or some other method of decisionmaking, and form a coalition for actions in conjunction with this group.]


Form a Committee to Collate Values onto a “Values Wall”

This committee will collect everyone’s Need/Want lists.

  • Every value that is on every paper, whether a Want or a Need, is automatically common.
  • Next, values that members put on their Need list, if not already identified as common, will be collected and the committee will ask the group, at a subsequent meeting, if any of these could be common values. If everyone who had not already identified this value would add it to his/her own list, then it is common.
  • If anyone declines to include this value, discuss it’s meaning to the people who listed it and to the people who reject it. No movement? Maybe it’s not a common value, and the person who needs it may not be a candidate for membership in this group. Or maybe it is a common value and the person who rejects it is not a candidate for membership in this group.
  • Next, the remaining values that are on anyone’s Want list which are also on most but not all papers are brought to the group. Are they common values?

Individuals Define Values on Wall

The committee will take the list of common values, which will probably number between 12 and 50, and write them on giant paper on a large wall space to which all members have regular access. The value words will have ample space for each member to write their own definitions. Every member need not define each value, but should define all that are important to the member, as inspired. The definition can take the form of dictionary language, examples, poetry, rap lyrics, pictures or whatever gets the ideas out. Important: Each member must put her/his name to his/her definition. If another member wants to ask a question, she/he needs to be able to find you. This is a slow motion dialog.


Committee Wordsmiths Definitions

After a predetermined and announced period of time, the values wall is closed. The committee takes what was written on the values wall for each value word and wordsmiths them into a definition for each value, contacting members with questions on their offerings, as needed. Like all VBC meetings, the committee announces to the whole group when and where it will meet, and their meetings are open to all members.


Group Reaches Consensus on Definitions

The committee brings their wordsmithed definitions to the group in small batches, 2 or 3 values per meeting. If the whole group consents to the wording of the definition, the committee’s work is completed for that value for now. If the definition fails to reach consensus, the committee continues to wordsmith the definition using the feedback from the whole group. This process continues until the whole group reaches consensus on each of the definitions. It is important for the group to appreciate that this is hard work and give it’s committee much love, not attacks, for their efforts.

  • • Your group will likely need to make decisions before your initial values work is done. You can use the 11 val- ues defined in the book, On Conflict and Consensus, as a temporary common values base until your initial val- ue process is complete. Trust the process and everyone’s good intent using the VBC model. (Never skip Levels 1, 2 or 3.)
  • Your group will indentify additional common values from time to time.
  • More often, your group will need to adjust and add to its definitions of existing common values as situations bring new aspects to light and priorities shift within the individual members and as a whole group.
  • Do make a large, readable poster with your common values (just the words) in a “cloud” or non-linear list. Use different colors of ink. Hang this in your meeting space for every meeting.
  • Do have your values and their definitions in a binder that is in the room at every meeting. Make updates promptly as your definitions and values list evolves.

Fiopa Consensus Collective
fiopa@consensus.net 410.458.2310

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