Building a values-driven Society: Do not miss our international conference in Stockholm ( June 11 – 13, 2014)

Every two years, the Barrett Values Centre holds its international conference. This year it will be held from 11th to 13th June in Stockholm. The focus of the conference will be on building a values-driven society. The first day will focus on the individual journey. The second day will focus on the group/collective journey, and the third day will focus on the global/societal journey.

On June 10th there will be a pre-conference workshop and a one-day meeting for everyone interested in National and Community Values Assessments (National Values Coalition) where we will share experiences about bringing about culture change in our society.

Click here for details of the main conference programme.

Click here for details of the venue and to register.

Click here for details on the National Values Coalition day.


Values and culture highlighted as critical issues in the demise of the Coop

Martin Palethorpe, a CTT consultant and a member of the PRAGMA Group, has distilled the eight key lessons from Sir Christopher Kelly’s report on the Failings and Management of Governance–an independent review of into the events leading to the Co-operative Bank’s capital shortfall. Click here to see Martin’s summary.

Key among the lessons are:

Live your values
Make your values live and stick. Live them in all initiatives and embed them in behaviours. Translate your values into meaningful guidance. Make sure too that your espoused brand matches how you actually operate.

A healthy culture 
Consciously and strategically develop your organisational & Board culture. The Coop had a culture that focused on good news, lacked accountability, tolerated underperformance, lacked transparency, discouraged challenge, and deferred problems.
Transparency, openness, debate, challenge, clarity & accountability are critical values needed in any successful Board or Executive team. These values will fundamentally impact how your Board works and how it makes decisions, which can be the difference between long-term sustainability & success and utter failure.

These issues come as no surprise to those of us involved in doing cultural values assessments and supporting cultural transformation.

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.


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.

National Values Assessments

Over the past few years the Barrett Values Centre has carried out more than 20 National Values Assessments. The following links provide details of most of these assessments.  The latest update we have is for October 2013 (click here).  We will be doing another update quite soon in time for our conference in Sweden in June.  We will be holding a National Values Day forum the day before the conference. If you want more information about national values assessments click here.  You can find a full report for the UK National Values Assessment by clicking here.