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What are Values, Value Levels and what has that got to do with Innovation?

By 16/03/2019Nov 23rd, 2021No Comments

Change is a constant theme always present on the macro, meso and micro levels of organisations, always has been and always will be, its evolution. We are neurologically geared to evolve and only resistance impedes the process. Many factors though are fueling the current pressing need to change faster, two being the commencement of the exponential age and the rise of Millennials and Gen Z in the work place who in the next decade will account for 58% of the workforce from the current 38%.


These 2 generations have radically different views on how work should be, they desire development, freedom, purpose and smart ways of working as opposed to the old paradigm of working hard. These views on work differ greatly from the Baby Boomers and Generation X currently leading the corporate world. Combine this tension with the advance of technology and the need to review old business models through the lens of authentic stakeholder value and you have a perfect storm brewing.

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Well a perfect storm for those that resist change. So, lets chat about what values and value levels are, in the context of Innovation. Values are our deepest, strongest subconscious drivers. Values drive all human behaviour, including your own. You value different things in different areas of your life and your values are unique to you. They are what is important to you and not what you like or dislike. These values combined, broadly speaking culminate in a value level and we transition through value levels during our life time. A value level shift can occur at the time of trauma or may appear to be a “mid-life crisis”, though its just the things you value changing. When we understand how this process occurs neurologically and what inner work is required, this enables a smoother transition.


Masseys (Values) Developmental Period: 0-7 Imprint Period, 7-14 Modeling Period, 14-21 Socialization Period, 21-35 Business Persona.


Sources of Values: Family, Friends, Church or Religion, School, Geography, Economics, Media.


Innovation occurs optimally from Value Level 7 in relation to the 8 value levels noted by Dr Clare Graves in Spiral Dynamics. The first system or level is the simplest and from there it gets increasingly complex. Each value system has its own characteristic expression. In an organisation it’s important that companies wanting to innovate ensure the values they focus on drives the behaviour noted from Value Level 7. It is equality important ensure value alignment within an organisation, especially in the leadership team. Failure to do with will result in a large loss of velocity towards company goals. Below is a diagrammatic overview of Dr Clare Graves 8 value levels.

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So, the question then is how do we enable a smoother transition between value levels or how do we intentionally evolve ourselves or our organization? Well that’s were cultivating emotionally intelligence comes in as each level requires the releasing of certain negative emotions that hinders movement to the next value level. This requires self-focus and self-reflection and facing ourselves is often easier said than done. So, many opt to remain in cycles of known patterns of behavior as opposed to stepping out of comfort zones and evolving. Sometimes though the internal resistance becomes so great that the change is thrust upon us in an unpleasant manner which is what happened to me.


Most of the modern world has moved off value level 1 (survival) and 2 (security), many are at value level 3 (the victim, the narcissist), most are at value level 4 (law and order) and 5 (capitalism), some are at value level 6 (social services, giving back) and few are at value level 7 (innovation, value exchange) and 8 (global ecosystem). To transition from level 3 the release of shame is required, from 4 the release of guilt, from 5 the release of apathy and disunity, 6 requires the development of self-love and self-value. Value level 7 is when we shift back into the optimum level of homeostasis and are better able to consider that innovation is about inclusion, empathy and creating authentic value for all stakeholders. Value 8 involves a more global view on ecology.


Now of course it must be appreciated that I am covering very deep and broad topics very briefly so there is far more detail to what I am sharing. I am merely providing you with a brief overview to start your journey of understanding the importance of values and value levels in the context of innovation and emotional intelligence.


Next week we will unpack in greater detail why empathy is key to innovation and perhaps touch on inclusion and diversity. If you have any questions on any content posted on any of our platforms, please do direct message me and I will aim to provide you with clarity as best as possible.