How to Square Value (Part 2)

Values Squared. © 2014 Jens R. Woinowski,

Last Wednesday I introduced the tool “Values and Development Square.” Today I want to show you in more detail how to use it.

To use the square for understanding such conflicts, you write a positive value and its exaggeration for one person into the left column and likewise for a second person value and exaggeration into the right column.

For example, somebody may accuse you to be an opportunist, while you think you are just a great diplomat. So you know you need to put the value “Diplomacy” in the top row and the exaggeration “Opportunism” in the bottom row. In our example, that is the right side of the square. Now you fill out the complete square, as described in Part 1. You can do this either together with the other person or you do it alone.

If you do it together, you can discuss your findings. The square helps you to understand each other better. You can discover patterns of behavior with which you annoy each other. Based on this dialogue you can agree on changes of behavior, and hopefully the deepened perception of each helps.

When you work alone with the square, it is basically the same as working on a weakness of your own. In that case you should not make too many assumptions about other people but only look for weaknesses of your own that you may discover in this process.

If you come up with the same square because you started with the personal weakness “Opportunism,” the square helps you to understand how other people may see you, how you can attenuate the positive aspects of it and how to find positive behavior that may reduce the (potentially wrong) perception others have of you.

I want to look at a new example. Maybe you want to create the detailed square for the example as an exercise. Let’s assume you are not sure if you should quit your current job and found your own business. (Sorry for the example, I know it is very stereotypical.)

You come up with “Freedom” and “Risk” on the one side of the square, standing for founding an own business. On the other side of the square you have “Secure Job” and “Stagnancy.” By filling out the detailed lists you have a good starting point for your decision. In my mind, this is also a more structured way to make decisions than with a simple “benefits and concerns” list.

Which other uses for this square come to your mind? Just leave a reply…

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7 comments on “How to Square Value (Part 2)

  1. Lyndon on said:

    Good table to visualize yourself and how your respond to others who may have an opposite philosophy or thinking in life. And good suggestion to use the table for decision making.

    Hi I m Lyndon from the Philippines, I have been to Germany many times and like the discipline and general quality of things made in your country… Say mostly strong engineering…I am also trying to learn Lean Thinking to apply on my own life and work… Sometimes I should make my on blog but I need more understanding but it is good start it soon..


    • Jens R. WoinowskiJens R. Woinowski on said:

      Hi Lyndon,

      Welcome to this site. I hope you find some interesting things here. I am also looking forward towards more comments from you. Maybe you also have some suggestions what I could write about?


      PS: Guess why this blog is in English and not in German? All the qualities you mention aside, the reception and appreciation of Lean in Germany (and Europe) is still stuck in the 1990s, if you ask me. Meaning, focus on cost savings and leaning towards the “Dark Side of Lean”…

  2. Marcel on said:

    Interesting method. First time I heard about it was in my education to become a primary school teacher, to avoid conflicts in the classroom or with colleagues/parents.

    Also nice tool to learn about yourself and why some people seem nicer than others.

    And it turned out to be a great tool to create characters for a screenplay. If I know what triggers them (the fictional characters that is), as well positively or negatively, it’s easier to create interesting conflicts in a story.

    And now I get inspired to use this as one of the tools in a workshop character development. (I sometimes give workshops concerning writing stuff.)

    Ideas rule! Just follow the best ones and all will be fine…

    • Jens R. WoinowskiJens R. Woinowski on said:

      Funny coincindence thar you use it for screenplay character development. A long time ago I had written a Windows app for story development (far too complicated and out of service). For conflict description and characters I used the value square, too…

      • Marcel on said:

        Funny indeed. I only used it, after I discovered that the square gave me some in depth information about myself.

        Could be fun though to make a set of screenplay writing apps. One for character development, one for story development and one for the actual writing.

        Well, it’s good to have some dreams and things to do left in life. If your todo-list is empty, there’s no fun, I guess.

        • Jens R. WoinowskiJens R. Woinowski on said:

          I think you just triggered a future blog post with the title “If your todo-list is empty, there’s no fun.” 🙂

          • Marcel on said:

            Good that we could inspire each other in just a few sentences. I’m looking forward to your blog.

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