Core Value-Alignment for Planners

Everyone has their own core values, even if they don’t know them yet. I’m not talking about societal values that are sometimes pushed onto others. I’m talking about the core values unique to every human being. Everyone’s unique values is what makes each human different and unique to our world. Although some people may seem to have the same value, that value will mean something different to them. For example, many people may share the same value of sustainability. Sustainability will mean something different to each person. Sustainability is defined in many ways and it could mean saving the natural resources on this planet, OR financial viability.

Successful planners understands each person has their own set of core values that drive their behavior and decisions. Even communities come together to set values they want to live by and make decisions from. When working on a project or plan, know these values by either reading the general plan, or talking to a local elected official. Values may not be explicit, so more research may be needed to identify them.

Align your project with the core values of the community. If you believe the project doesn’t, why not? Many agencies have certain policies or standards they must follow that could be perceived as misaligned with the communities core values. Often, your project will be aligned with a community’s core values, but it takes time to identify the connections. Once it is determined your project is aligned with the community’s values, communicate it with the public and use their core values as part of the conversation. It will help show the community you are thoughtful in addressing their needs.

Values also shape planning agencies decisions and behaviors. When public agencies don’t commit to a core set of values, internal organizational issues occur. People want to be personally aligned with their work and believe they are working on something that matters. I believe most of the problems in organizations today stem from not aligning their day to day actions with core values. Some of our most complex planning challenges and issues can be solved if planning agencies align their actions with core values.