Ethics learning is increasingly assuming a central position within MBA, professional, and undergraduate programs. Yet students often express cynicism and “ethics fatigue” regarding the approaches taken by legacy teaching materials—approaches often defined by business ethics “horror stories” or high-minded rhetoric that doesn’t feel connected enough to daily reality. How, then, do we shape future organizations where values are not just talked about but acted upon, even when those actions are difficult? How can educational institutions effectively prepare students to meet rapidly evolving values challenges?
The key is to create learning that is less about analysis and more about action, less about “thou shalt not” and more about what empowered individuals “can do” when they are equipped to voice their values.
These are the issues that have guided the work of Mary Gentile and her collaborators for almost a decade. Her Giving Voice to Values (GVV) curriculum—now employed by hundreds of global universities and leading firms—prepares current and future leaders to voice their values, especially when it’s hard. It’s a values education rooted in self-awareness, tools for rehearsal and pre-scripting based on extensive research insights, and the practical realities of organizational life.
The GVV team has teamed up with Nomadic Learning to create a groundbreaking digital extension of their curriculum. Students navigate a series of practical case studies, original animations by renowned New Yorker and New York Times illustrator Jing Wei, Hollywood film clips, and social polls and debates while working together and with their instructors to determine how to voice values with more confidence and increased effectiveness.
GVV leverages the valuable time of instructors and students by enriching the classroom learning experience and providing a supportive learning framework. Students come to class having already engaged in deep learning and rich social debates. Instructors draw upon a range of student comments to help them plan for class and lead engaging discussions.
GVV can either supplement or replace conventional ethics textbooks and learning materials within live or online class settings. GVV can be delivered over an entire semester or can work as a concentrated learning experience over a shorter period of time. Nomadic’s GVV program is built around six Field Manuals, or learning modules, designed to help learners voice their values effectively:
Nomadic’s GVV program is built around six Field Manuals, or learning modules, designed to help learners voice their values effectively.
A dynamic introduction to the GVV process. Voicing values is an organizational imperative rather than a nice thing to do. Individuals often want to align their values with their working lives but aren’t sure how. We have a range of options available to us when we face a values conflict—but which option is usually best?
Values conflicts can be normalized and made part of everyday organizational practice. But how can surfacing values conflicts effectively drive productivity and solve real problems? Presents key principles for designing organizations that embrace values conflicts.
Explores the meaning of “values” and how can we talk about them effectively. Teaches how to align our working lives with our values as fully as possible. Explores techniques for uncovering the values dimensions of everyday business decisions. Offers tips for building our “moral muscle” through real-world values practice.
Considers how to voice your values effectively when confronted with predictable but powerful rationalizations for countervailing positions. Teaches learners to anticipate and counter those rationalizations through “pre-scripting.” Explains how to convert “defensive reasoning” into “productive reasoning.”
How to leverage values to change minds, organizations, or the world at large. Explores the practical relationship between values and strategy. Considers how to re-frame values conflicts in order to work toward achievable solutions. Teaches how to discover hidden opportunities for voicing within organizations. And how to build networks of allies to voice more effectively.
Demonstrates to leaders at all levels how to listen for values when they’re being voiced—either explicitly or tacitly. Considers peer coaching as a means to surface values conflicts and generate solutions. Concludes with valuable tips for building cultures of voice within organizations.
Groups of students move through the program together, sharing, debating, and competing with each other as they learn. Nomadic can consult with universities and instructors on the integration of GVV with existing syllabi, on logistics, and on scheduling based on learning goals. Unlimited numbers of students groups can learn concurrently.
Nomadic’s programs are accessible on any device with a modern browser, from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets. Any device access increases take-up and engagement by making learning always available, on the devices where users spend most of their time.
Much of the learning in a Nomadic program takes place through social discussions, projects, and the peer review of learner comments. Nomadic Field Manuals are built from the ground up to maximize social interaction, starting with activities like polls and simple social challenges and culminating in rich debates.
Students compete with one another according to their levels of engagement with the program, their understanding of the material, and their social influence. Competition spurs engagement without undermining the collaborative learning experience.
Nomadic creates new data streams that allow instructors, administrators and students themselves to measure progress across dimensions like peer influence and intensity of engagement, in addition to standard measures of retention and understanding. Instructors can access real-time reports about the progress of students and the effectiveness of the program that are easy to interpret and simple to act upon. Analytics help tie learning more closely to the overall pedagogical goals of a particular class.
Nomadic’s Giving Voice to Values program is intended for any student earning an MBA or an undergraduate business degree or students studying disciplines like management, communications, or engineering. Imagine starting a rich, structured conversation about voicing values even before class begins.
In order to enable pedagogically and logistically seamless learning experiences, Nomadic can help integrate GVV with the existing syllabus and legacy learning materials, thereby creating effective blended offerings. We also provide access to comprehensive instructor manuals and additional ancillary resources, including books, cases, and exercises.
Nomadic offers a spectrum of customization options, with custom interfaces available for individual instructors and tailored debates and bespoke cases available for institutional buyers. The result is a highly social learning experience centered around voicing values issues and competencies that resonate with students.
The learning curve for instructors to adopt GVV in their classrooms is minimal. And no special technical knowledge is required. As the Nomadic platform functions as (highly secure) web-based application, technical barriers are rarely an issue. Nomadic also offers single sign-on with Learning Management Systems, deeper LMS integration via xAPI, and university social network integrations.