Values Collaborative Frequently Asked Questions

For additional information contact Michelle Arduser at Values Coach by calling 319-624-3889 or by email at Click on each question below to read the answer.

  1. [expand title=” What is the Values Collaborative?“] The Values Collaborative is an initiative by Values Coach Inc. designed to make its course on The Twelve Core Action Values accessible and affordable for every hospital regardless of size or location.  By preparing hospital employees to be Certified Values Coach Trainers (CVC-T), participating hospitals can both weave these essential personal values into the cultural fabric of their organizations and reach out to share them with their larger community.  Beyond that, if a critical mass of organizations within a state make the values commitment, it can have a profound and permanent impact upon the entire population (the way a collective change in attitude regarding the acceptability of public smoking has forever changed our world).[/expand]
  2. [expand title=” What is the course on The Twelve Core Action Values?“] This is a 60-module course based on twelve universal and eternal values – values that transcend particular political or religious beliefs.  Each value features four cornerstones, which put the “action” into the value.  An overview of the course is included in the exhibit below.  Among other resources, course participants receive a 410-page workbook filled with great ideas for living these values at work and at home.[/expand]
  3. [expand title=” How many people should we send for Certified Values Coach Trainer (CVC-T) training?“] For smaller and critical access hospitals, we recommend sending at least two – four people, so that you can have two instructor pairs.  For larger organizations, you can calculate an estimated number of CVC-T candidates by estimating the total number of training hours that will be required (24 total hours times the number of employees to be involved); deciding whether the training will be conducted by individual CVC-Ts or by teams of two (we recommend teams); determining over what time period the initial training is to be conducted; and determining how quickly and how often you wish to share training with others in the community. We also recommend sending members of the executive team to participate in the training and become certified.[/expand]
  4. [expand title=”How should we select CVC-T candidates, and should we consider including managers?“] To paraphrase a common hiring mantra, select for attitude and we will train for skill.  What is most important is that the CVC-Ts be passionate about values and participating in the course, and about applying the skills and principles they learn in their own work and lives.  Ideally, they will be people who have established respect and credibility within the organization.  It is absolutely appropriate to include managers if they meet these criteria.  One approach is to ask interested individuals to notify administration of their interest, but then to have the executive team select those who will participate.[/expand]
  5. [expand title=”Should we send members of the leadership team in addition to CVC-T candidates?“] That is optional but highly recommended for several reasons.  First and foremost, it’s important for the leadership team to have a solid understanding of and buy-in to the content and purpose of the course, and to set a visible example.  Second, in many cases these individuals will be ideal candidates for reaching out to the rest of the community (businesses, schools, government offices, etc.) to share the course with them.[/expand]
  6. [expand title=”How should the training be conducted?“]The course on The Twelve Core Action Values is structured so that it can be taught in several different formats.
    First, it can be taught in a single two-day class.  This is ideal for a management retreat and for launching a Values Initiative in a way that maximizes initial momentum.  The CVC-T tools most appropriate for this approach will be the PowerPoint presentation (the template can be tailored for the instructor and the organization) and the note-taking workbook.
    Second, it can be taught in 12-60 minute sessions. This works best for people who are not able to get away from the work unit for an uninterrupted two-day period, and has the added advantage of allowing time for assimilation between classes.  These sessions should ideally be scheduled every one or two weeks, though they can also be stretched out over a one year period. The CVC-T tools most appropriate for this approach will be the twelve 10-minute icebreaker videos and the note-taking workbook.[/expand]
  7. [expand title=”Should the training be voluntary or mandatory?“]We recommend that the training be made mandatory, for several reasons.  First, the people who most need and who could most benefit from this training are often those who are most likely to opt out of a voluntary program – and in many cases become cynical critics of a course about which they are substantially ignorant.  Second, if this is seen as a component of a commitment to cultural transformation (which it cannot help but to be), it is important that everyone be engaged.  Whether mandatory or voluntary, we strongly suggest that employees be paid for their time to participate in the training.[/expand]
  8. [expand title=”How should the middle management team be engaged?“]The middle management team should be thoroughly briefed on why the organization is participating in the Values Collaborative, and any concerns should be surfaced and addressed early on.  A special inaugural class on The Twelve Core Action Values should be conducted by your CVC-Ts for the middle management team so they can be aware of what’s included before it’s shared with others in their areas of responsibility, and provide constructive suggestions as to how to conduct future classes.[/expand]
  9. [expand title=”What other sorts of activities are, or can be, involved?“]The course itself includes a number of activities for personal and organizational transformation (such as The Pickle Challenge for eradicating toxic emotional negativity).  The opportunities for adding to this are limited only by your imagination.  In some organizations, for example, course participants have staged poster or collage contests for each of the values included in the course.  Others have made group sharing of The Self-Empowerment Pledge an element of their cultural transformation efforts.[/expand]
  10. [expand title=”How do the values in this course relate to our organizational values?“]The focus of this course is on personal values and the actions people can take to make those values more real and tangible in their own work and lives.  As Kouzes and Posner have shown in their research, the more clear people are about their own values, the more they will buy into the values of the organization.  One activity we recommend for the management team is creating a matrix with The Twelve Core Action Values down the left-hand side and the values of the organization across the top – then filling in the boxes with actions by which encouraging people to live the personal values will reinforce the organizational values.  (If you’d like to see an example of how we’ve started this process with other organizations, send an email to Michelle Arduser (
    This is also a great opportunity to revisit what we call the “Invisible Architecture™” of your organization, and create a “cultural blueprint” that rests on a foundation of values.[/expand]
  11. [expand title=”What is the cost to participate?“]The cost is $5,000 for a lifetime licensing fee/membership fee, and $1,500 per Certified Values Coach Trainer.[/expand]
  12. [expand title=”What does the licensing fee cover?“]The licensing fee allows unlimited use of any and all resources shared through the Collaborative for training within the hospital and the community for a lifetime.  This includes all training resources that will be made available on the website.[/expand]
  13. [expand title=”What is the role of the resource hospital?“]Resource hospitals help organize CVC-T training courses, provide training and support for critical access hospitals and other healthcare organizations (e.g. long term care) within their regions, and more generally help us assure that the Values Collaborative has the desired positive impact.[/expand]
  14. [expand title=”Have you measured the impact of this values training on hospital outcomes in other organizations and/or should we plan on measuring impact in our organization?“]While we have many anecdotal examples of both individuals and organizations making positive and lasting changes as a result of values training, we have not formally measured impact and advise against doing so in the Values Collaborative, for several reasons.  First, any organization that is sufficiently enlightened to share this gift with employees is doing and has conducted other initiatives (e.g. Disney, Studer, Planetree, etc.) and it would take a very sophisticated regression analysis to ferret out what the underlying cause of changes in outcomes.  Second, the very act of seeking to measure the impact on, for example, productivity, patient or employee satisfaction could influence the conduct of the program itself (the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in action).  Third, the most important outcomes of values training are difficult or impossible to measure: how does one measure such things as enthusiasm, pride, courage, and perseverance?  As TQM guru W. Edwards Deming (the quintessential numbers guy) himself put it, the most important number in any organization cannot be counted.  If you’d like a copy of our special report The Business Case for Values Training, send an email to Michelle Arduser ([/expand]
  15. [expand title=”How does the Values Collaborative relate to other programs, and how do we avoid “program of the month” syndrome?“]First, it is important to acknowledge that any organization will be actively engaged in multiple simultaneous initiatives and activities, and will have a past record of many more, which will have had different success rates at achieving a sustained impact on the organization.  The most important factor in preventing “program of the month” syndrome is having a clear understanding of how various programs relate to one another, and how they are part of a larger coherent vision of the organization’s desired culture.  Here are two examples, using the two questions we are most frequently asked at Values Coach:The focus of Planetree is on empowering patients to be active participants in their care in a patient-centered environment, while the focus of Values Coach is on teaching workers the skills of personal empowerment – which are essential to the cultural transformation that creates that patient-centered environment.  (Values Coach has worked with more than a dozen Planetree hospitals over the years.)The focus of the Studer Group is on hardwiring process and accountability, the focus of Values Coach is on softwiring values-based attitudes and a sense of ownership.One of the key success factors we’ve repeatedly seen is having a growing core of “Spark Plugs” who buy into The Twelve Core Action Values and related tools and techniques (such as The Self-Empowerment Pledge and The Pickle Challenge) because they see the benefit in their own personal and professional lives.

    Of course, the ultimate determinant of whether this is a lasting investment in a more positive organizational culture or just another program of the month is the determination of the leadership team to sustain the former.  Values Coach is like the proverbial treadmill salesperson – we can bring in the equipment and set it up, we can teach people how to use it and provide them with motivational tapes and DVDs, and we can connect them with a community of other treadmillers from around the country.  And we can be available for ongoing consultation.  But the one thing we cannot do is make anyone actually get on the treadmill and use it.


  16. [expand title=”Can we check references?“]We strongly encourage you to speak with others who have participated in Values Coach programs, and will be happy to provide you with contact information.  Contact Michelle Arduser by phone at 319-624-3889 or by email at  For a 3-minute testimonial video by a graduate (who is a critical care nurse) of a course on The Twelve Core Action Values, go to[/expand]