Recommended Values for How We Do Our Work

As we’re all learning more and more, it’s important in our transportation efforts (and all efforts) that we define and implement not only what an organization will do – but also how the program will do the work. Tieing in with Maine’s equity goals regarding economic class, age diversity, race, gender and geographic representation, these values foster a more resilient working culture. That is, people are able to work together and accomplish significantly more over the long-term.

The following is recommended content to include in any program or organization’s Values Statement. This should be a living document that people use in their day-to-day work:

  • The program includes process or quality goals in it’s planning, versus only traditional numbers-related goals (numbers of people reached, website analytics, spending, etc.) Examples of process or quality goals include assessing the quality of program relationships, the ability to deal constructively with conflict, etc. Any cost-benefit analysis includes all the costs, not just the financial ones – e.g., cost in morale, cost in credibility, cost in the use of resources, etc.
  • The program creates realistic work plans with realistic timeframes, recognizing that efforts generally take longer than anyone expects.
  • The program makes sure everyone knows and understands who makes what decisions (recommend a DARCI accountability grid); at the same time, it includes people who are affected by decisions in its decision-making.
  • The program recognizes that working with a continued sense of urgency makes it difficult to think long-term, be inclusive, consider consequences and encourage thoughtful decision-making.
  • The program develops the power and skills of each team member. Everyone is evaluated based on their ability to delegate to others and to work as a group to accomplish shared goals.
  • The program makes time to appreciate people’s work and efforts.
  • The program fosters a work setting where people are accountable as a group and where people bring problems to the group.
  • The program makes time to learn how people inside and outside of the program get and share information, and understands that may not always be through written communications.
  • The program understands that everyone has a world view and each person’s worldview affects the way they understand things. It is assumed everyone has a valid point and one’s job is to understand what that point is.
  • When issues are raised that cause discomfort, they are dealt with directly and without blaming the person for raising the issue. Once a conflict is resolved, the program takes the opportunity to revisit it and see how it might have been handled differently.
  • The program notices when people are simplifying complex issues with either/or, good/bad, with- us/against-us thinking, especially when the stakes seem high or an urgent decision needs to be made. In these instances, the program slows things down, gives some breathing room to think creatively, and encourages a deeper analysis.
  • The program understands that change is inevitable and discomfort is at the root of all growth and learning. It recognizes defensiveness and resistance to discomfort and/or new ideas can get in the way of the mission; it identifies and works constructively on these fears when they surface.
  • The program expects it will make mistakes and those mistakes offer opportunities for learning – and sometimes lead to positive results.

Values content adapted to address Maine’s existing economic class, age, race, gender, geographic and cultural contexts and the needs of our workplaces and volunteer organizations, from Emergent Strategy by adrienne marie brown and “White Dominant Culture & Something Different: a worksheet” – which is a further articulated adaptation from the classic Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, ChangeWork, 2001. Frankly for me, coming from the traditionally male-dominated transportation industry, many of the cultural pieces named in these documents also reflect the long-term, predominantly masculine leadership and decision-making of our institutions that many of us – men included – are also working to diversify. 

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