Values Processing

Which of these two values is more important among the employees in your organization?

  • Integrity
  • Customer-focus

Yes, you are right: Both of them are important. And comparing these two values is like comparing apples with oranges.

However, thinking about these values, discussing them, and placing them in a priority order makes them more tangible.


Participants identify the highest-priority value among a set of employee values by comparing them two at a time.


To explore the relative importance of different employee values in an organization.


Minimum: 10
Maximum: Any number
Best: 20 to 30


Depends on the number of participants and the number of values being processed. For best results, set aside 30 to 60 minutes.


  • Values cards (see Preparation section below)
  • Countdown Timer
  • Whistle

Room Setup

Set up a Mediator's Area. Place a few chairs in this area and ask the participants not to sit in this area. Explain that you will send mediators to this area later in this activity.


Prepare Values cards. Use the List of Employee Values below. Select one fewer value than the number of participants. Write each selected value on a separate card.


Select a mediator. Randomly select one participant to be the mediator. Ask this person to sit down in one of the chairs in the Mediation Area.

Distribute the Values cards. Give a Values card to each of the other participants.

Explain the goal. Tell the participants that each card contains a value that should guide the employees of the organization. While all these values are important, the goal of this activity is to locate the one highest-priority value that everyone should immediately focus on. Announce a 15-minute time limit for making this selection.

Ask participants to pair up and select. Tell the participants to pair up with each other, show their value cards, briefly talk about them, and decide which value is of higher priority.

Explain what to do after the selection. The participant who had the value card that was not selected should give this card to the facilitator. He or she should then go to the Mediator's Area. The other participant should return to the main play area with his or her card and pair up with someone else and repeat the selection process.

Explain how mediation works. If a pair of participants could not decide which value has higher priority, they should go to a mediator. Both participants should take turns to briefly present their argument to the mediator. This mediator should listen to arguments, ask questions, and decide which value should receive higher priority.

Explain what happens after the mediation. The two participants who presented their cases should give their cards to the mediator and sit down in the Mediator's Area. The mediator should give the lower-priority value to the facilitator and go to the main play area with the higher priority value and pair up with any available participant.

Continue the selection process. Ask the participants with value cards to repeatedly pair up with new partners and continue the decision-making process.

Conclude the session. If at any time during the activity, there is only one player with a value card, announce the end of the activity. Read the value on the card and declare it to be the highest priority value.

If there is more than one person with a value card at the end of 15 minutes, blow the whistle and get everyone's attention. Ask the participants with value cards to stand at different parts of the room and read the value on the card. Ask the rest of the participants to cluster around the person with the value that they consider to be of the highest priority. Identify the value with the majority of the participants and declare it to be the highest priority item.


Focus on the selected value. Acknowledge that there are several important values. Explain that you are going to focus on the one value that was given the highest priority. Ask and discuss the following types of questions:

  1. What are the benefits of implementing this value?
  2. How would you rate the current level of implementation of this value among our employees?
  3. What would happen if this value is ignored or violated?
  4. How can we incorporate this value in our everyday activities in the workplace?
  5. How can we increase the awareness and acceptance of this value among all employees?


Want to change the focus? Instead of exploring employee values, you may explore organizational values (such as protecting the environment, being a responsible corporate citizen, and paying your share of taxes).