Values-based Education: Singapore leading the way?

After my last blog on values-based education, Vincent Ho  sent me this link to a recent speech by the Minister of Education in Singapore (click here).  In my opinion, this is an amazing policy speech.  If you are involved in education, I recommend you read every word.

In the conclusion to this speech the Minister states:

Our student-centric, values-driven education, with a renewed focus on values and character development, and our goals of “every school a good school”, “every student an engaged learner”, “every teacher a caring educator”, and “every parent a supportive partner” have resonated well with students, parents and educators alike. We aim to give every child a broad and deep foundation for a lifelong journey. In other words, a more multi-dimensional education that goes beyond academics.

The underlying philosophy behind the changes we are making is that we recognize that each student is different, and we want to engage each and every one of them in ways that are meaningful and productive; through activities that challenge and stretch them. By enabling students to learn holistically and to find their interests, we hope they blossom as whole persons, finding personal fulfillment and contributing to our society. In the process, we aim to keep paths wide open, and create a virtuous cycle where the successful have empathy, and do their part for others.

Values-based Education: A Growing Trend?

More and more schools around the world are teaching children about values. Kids are developing values-literacy. You can find out more about this trend at the website of Values Based Education.

At last we are preparing future generations to make values-based decisions. From my perspective this is not just something to be applauded, it is something to be celebrated.

Here is a picture of Julie Rees, Head of Ledbury School. An outstanding values-based school. Having pioneered values in schools, Ledbury now wants to be the first Values-based town in the UK.

Here are some of the comments about Ledbury School from the school inspectors:

“Pupils feel safe and secure at school and show very high levels of care and support for each other in all situations. Their very well developed values are reflected in their burgeoning understanding of how to do right by other people, how different people live their lives and the cultures of different parts of the world now and in the past.”

“Pupils’ development, as caring individuals who appreciate the values associated with getting on together, helping your fellows and being proactive about the environment and the world we live in, is outstanding.”

Values-based education is all about identifying a common ethical language based on positive human values. When children learn about values and experience them in the classroom they begin to live the values.

A great reference if you want to bring values-based education to your children’s schools is the book by Dr. Neil Hawkes.


Values-based Leadership: Leading from the inside out

Becoming a successful leader—someone who is able to build a long-lasting, high-performing team, organization, or community—is not about what you do, although that is important; it is about how you do what you do—it is about living your deeply held values.

What my research and the research of others shows is that values-driven teams, organizations, and communities are the most successful on the planet.Values-driven organizations generate higher earnings; they are more customer-focused and more productive, and they have higher levels of employee engagement, higher retention rates, and lower absenteeism. Because employees feel cared for, they willingly bring their creativity and discretionary energy to their work.

To read the whole article click here.


The Demise of Democracy in the USA

In my blog, What’s it all about Mr. Prime Minister, picked up today by the Huffington Post you will find the following paragraph:

Nor are the other leading democratic nations well advanced on this journey. Yes, they have installed freedom, and most have made a commitment to equality, but how many have fully embraced accountability and fairness? How many can be considered truly open and transparent, and how many have built a society based on trust. The answer is, not many! So why are these questions not being discussed by our world leaders in Davos? The answer is simple — the majority of our political and finance leaders cannot get their minds off wealth and money. They are mesmerized by the values of power, control and status. At Davos, the self-interest of the elites consistently trumps the common good of humanity.

This conclusion  aligns with the latest research paper from Princeton University (click here). This paper concludes:
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.   

Furthermore, the researchers state:
A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time, while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policy-making is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn’t surprised by the survey’s results:
American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media),” he writes. The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious ‘electoral’ ‘democratic’ countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now.

This comes as no surprise to us at the Barrett Values Centre. When we asked a statistically valid sample of Americans in 2009 and 2011 to pick ten values/behaviours that represent how they believe their nation operates, this is what they said :

Corruption, bureaucracy, blame, crime/violence, uncertainty about the future, wasted resources, materialistic, unemployment, conflict/aggression.

 The level of cultural entropy (the degree of dysfunction at a cultural level) in the USA increased from 52% in 2009 to 56% in 2011. A comparison of the USA National Values Assessment in 2009 and 2011 can be found by clicking here.

In Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations: The impact of the evolution of human consciousness on world affairs, written in 2011, I commented on these results:

The greatest challenge to the evolution of democracy is the amount of power/influence exercised by the new elites—the rich and those elected to power. Ever since the agricultural period and the age of tribes, the elites have attempted to dominate/control the masses, and even though in our modern day democracies we have given every man and woman the right to vote, the elites (status elites and the wealthy) still have a disproportionate influence over the way in which society is run.

Even in the US and the UK, the so-called bastions of democracy, the elites have a significant and disproportionate say in the policies that governments adopt and the laws they bring into effect. This is one of the main reasons why I suspect that these two nations are evaluated as numbers 17 and 19 in Economic Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) democracy index. This is also why I believe the EIU dropped Italy (29) and France (31) from being full democracies to flawed democracies after their 2010 survey.

In the US, lobbyists representing business elites have become very adept at manipulating the process of governance at the highest levels. They exercise significant control over the way senators and members of congress vote. Failure to follow the lobbyists’ “advice” can result in cuts in funding for their electoral campaigns and expense paid junkets to foreign lands and American resorts.

This brings me back to my blog, What’s it all about Mr. Prime Minister. When are our leaders going to realize that we cannot have democracy without a commitment to freedom, equality, fairness, accountability, openness, transparency and trust. It all about values, Mr President.


Conscious Capitalism Goes Local (Rochester New York)

Three weeks ago I attended the inaugural event of the UK Chapter of Conscious Capitalism here in London. The event was well attended and created significant interest in the London business community.

For those of you in the USA, I just heard that the Greater Rochester Chapter on Conscious Capitalism, are sponsoring an event on Thursday May 8th, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Raj Sisodia co-author of Conscious Capitalism and Firms of Endearment will be speaking on the topic of Re-Imagining Business Success – Building Truly Human Organizations. After his presentation  Jack DePeters, SRVP of Store Operations of Wegmans Food Markets and Doug Ronan, VP of Marketing of Driscoll’s, will join Raj for a question and answer session. To find out more click here.


Building a Sustainable Brand

If you follow this link you will find my keynote presentation for the Sustainable Brands Conference in Rio de Janeiro next week.

My thesis is this: Brand and culture are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, they should reflect the same values. Cultural values represent the side of the coin seen by employees. Brand values are the side of the coin seen by customers. Problems arise when what you see on the inside is not what you see on the outside. In other words, a sustainable brand has an aligned set of internal and external values. There is cultural integrity.

Finding Happiness and Meaning at Work, That is the Quest

Next week, I will be giving the opening keynote speech at the Sustainable Brands Conference in Rio de Janiero. My message is simple, You cannot have a sustainable brand without a sustainable culture; and in order to have a sustainable culture you have to measure and manage it.

In the afternoon, I will be part of a panel discussing the question “Is it possible to reconcile work and happiness.” My answer is a definitive YES; but you have to become a values-driven organisation in order to do so. No matter who you are, depending on what stage of psychological development you have reached and what level of consciousness you are operating from, you will either be looking for happiness or meaning in your life. After your family, work will be the principle domain of this search.

Happiness and meaning are not synonymous: the ego is in search of happiness; the soul is in search for meaning. Most people find meaning when they are able to tap into their creativity, make a difference in their world and be of service to humanity.  Business leaders are beginning to understand this.

At the conclusion of his first interview with the New York Times (21st February 2014), Satya Nadella, the newly appointed CEO of Microsoft remarked, “One of the things I am fascinated about generally is the rise and fall of everything, from civilizations, to families, to companies. We all know the mortality of companies is less than human beings. There are few examples of even 100-year old companies. For us to be a 100 year-old company where people find meaning at work, that is the quest.”

My previous blog What Employees Want deals with this question in more detail.

Putting Your Money Where Your Values Are

Following on from my blog entitled “Greed at the Heart of the British Banking System?” I have to report on a bank that I believe is doing the right thing.  This article (click here) describes what is happening at Triodos Bank in the UK.

Huw Davies, head of personal banking at Triodos Bank comments: “Our research is a clear call from consumers to the financial services sector to make more fundamental changes, and do so more quickly, if they are serious about getting back in touch with society and regaining consumer trust. There is a definite message here that the public wants a shift in what banks do and how they do it, which requires a deep-seated change in culture and values.”

“We talk a lot about the need for new and different banks in the UK; this is important, but less so than the need for new bankers who are motivated not only by personal wealth, but by serving society and doing the right thing.”

“At Triodos Bank, our savers will always know exactly how we are using their money, and that it is only financing organisations delivering a positive environmental, social or cultural impact. Saving in a Triodos Bank ISA not only means you get a decent financial return, but also peace of mind that the money you are saving is making a positive difference to people, society, and the environment.”

Congratulations to Triodos for bringing transparency to banking.


Greed at the Heart of the British Banking System?

The KPMG report on the reinvention of British Banks estimates the cost of conduct failings in 2013 at a massive 80% of cumulative profits.  In other words, bad behaviour is having a major impact on the viability of the British banking sector.  Of course bad behaviour always starts with flawed values.

What this report shows, in my opinion, is that greed is at the heart of the British banking system.  Greed is always bad for business, because it erodes trust. And that is exactly what is happening. There is a major crisis of trust in the banking industry, and it starts at the top:The culture of an organisation is always a reflection of leadership consciousness.

Who are the people running our banks? What happened to their values? Are these people fit to run companies? My conclusion is they are not, because they do not understand how values operate. This may not be true of everyone, as I am sure there are many people working in the banking industry that come from a place of high intention, but based on the evidence, five year on from the banking crisis, I wonder to what extent their voices are being heard.  I know that whatever energy you operate with is the energy you get back.  The past greed of the leaders of our banks is coming home to roost, and investors are paying for it.  If you are an investor, in the banking sector, it is about time you woke up to the fact that unless the banks you invest in are driven by values, you are throwing your money away.

The KPMG report concludes:

As we have discussed, all banks are working on a massive conduct agenda and undergoing a cultural revolution. The million dollar questions are “How will be measure success?” and “How will banks be able to assess if they are truly restoring trust?”

The answer to these question is simple: By mapping their values; finding out from employees what values operate in the bank, and asking customers what values they see in their bank. The tools are available … If you want to build a values-driven organisation then go here and take a look at this (click here).