Values with a difference

The values describe our defining characteristics – what makes Exeter different – and make the assumption that everyone subscribes to a common code of decency. They describe our collective aspirations and are a reference point for setting strategies, and objectives for teams and individuals, as well as guiding every day decisions.

Why do we need common values?

"It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are..." Our successful trajectory over the past 15 years has shown that we have some strong implicit values. We have set ambitious goals, we have been unafraid of challenge, to give just two examples. But at the moment our values as a university are not explicit. By being clear about our collective values, we can create a common framework (or 'lens') to frame our decisions, our behaviours and our relationships.

How did we develop this set of words?

The brief was to develop a more concise and more distinctive set of values, and a mission and vision statement that will lay the foundations for our next strategy. Between November 2014 and July 2015 we set up a working advisory group (23 staff, representing academia, professional services and students) and held 4 focus groups, followed by an online survey to test the draft values (278 responses received).

How can we make our values really mean something?

The risk with 'corporate values' programmes is that they become a meaningless set of words on posters, that people see as conflicting with the set of values on display. To make our values really mean something, we have to take them seriously at all levels of the university, demonstrating them through the way we behave, the way we communicate and the way we work (our processes), as illustrated on the right.