During the extensive consultations we’ve been doing for Strategy 2025, we’ve heard from you that our values matter. As we launch a new strategy for the whole university we are therefore refreshing the way in which we articulate our values. In ensuring that Strategy 2025 builds on our values, two themes have recurred in multiple workshops and meetings.

The first is that Strategy 2025 should see Heriot-Watt operate in ways which are demonstrably led by our values. Both in our major decisions and in our everyday activities, we should each be able to explain how our values underpin the way we work.

The second was a strong sense that our values carried the right ethos but would benefit from some editing to make them more active and dynamic and memorable.

We currently have five values and they have been in place for a decade.

  1. Valuing and Respecting Everyone
  2. Pride and Belonging
  3. Pursuing Excellence
  4. Shaping the Future 
  5. Outward Looking

Our consultations established three things.

Firstthat greater consistency of format would be helpful with a particular focus on making our values simpler and/or shorter.

Second, that our values should reflect our status as a place of research and learning.

Third, that our values should be expressed in ways which were more obviously actionable.

From open workshops held in September we’ve developed the four values below and mapped how they relate to our existing values.

  1. Community
    We celebrate our diverse international community of staff and students
  2. Creativity
    Ideas matter; through excellence in research and teaching we transform lives
  3. Challenge
    Respectful, collaborative challenge is at the heart of everything we do
  4. Courage
    We have the confidence to make a difference

Our Heriot-Watt Values

As we move to finalise Strategy 2025 it would be great to hear your views on the refreshed values.

What feedback or advice would you offer on the values? 
Submit your comments below.


Professor Gill Hogg
Deputy Principal (External Relations)

Julie Dickson
Head of Organisational Development


15 Replies to “Our Values Matter

  1. From Lucy Everest:
    Key is the shift from Challenge to Collaboration as one of the C’s. We also explored whether the values really should be framed in the same way for students.

    Our Values
    Our colleagues tell us loud and clear that our values are important. They affect how we behave, and apply equally to our students and our staff.
    At Heriot-Watt we value:
    Our distinctiveness comes from our diverse and international community of students and staff
    Ideas matter; through excellence in teaching and research we transform lives
    Respectful, collaborative challenge is the way we deliver meaningful impact
    We use our courage to confidently do things differently

  2. I am concerned that “valuing and respecting others” has been lost in this makeover. Our values were pretty concise anyway and I am not convinced the changes really move us on. In place of Challenge (if we are to keep with the alliteration theme) I suggest the following:
    Courtesy: we treat everyone with the same dignity and respect that we would wish to receive.

    1. The feedback at a variety of staff workshops was that the current values weren’t clear; in part because the five statements are different grammatical forms. In the proposed revision to the values both diversity and respectful are key words. That said, I actually prefer the articulation of treating others as you’d wish to be treated over the current valuing and respecting everyone.

  3. Of the main ‘values’, only courage is actually a value.

    I think creativity and community are very important and rightly feature, but they are not values. I also like the inclusion of challenge but it is confusing here and needs work.

    There are comments above which I think are important to take account of – agree with ‘creative’ instead of ‘creativity’, for example, and how to ensure all staff feel appropriately supported and valued.

    I would question how we are going to implement ‘courage’ as a value, given that management, UE and Court seem to be so risk averse in many areas.

    If we are leaders in ideas and solutions, I think our values should reflect that in a positive way.

  4. I am not keen on the words challenge and courage. Challenge sounds slightly prejorative – rather negative. Courage sounds like we might be lacking it!!

    Rather I think we should just condense the 4 into 3 and go with something like ‘Confident’

  5. I like that they all start with the same letter as I think this will help make them memorable.

    I’m less comfortable with challenge as it is here. I agree we should be able to respectfully challenge each other but I would rather see a more positive value in here. Perhaps collaborate instead? And respectful challenge could be within this. I think collaborate would align with pursuing excellence and valuing and respecting everyone as well.

    I wonder as well if you could say under community, “We celebrate our diverse and international community of staff and students” as our diversity isn’t only in the fact we have an international community.

  6. I don’t think Courage and Challenge are really values. And all of these have the potential to be met with scepticism, particularly in the choice of the first letter.

    Perhaps Confidence would be a better fit than courage.

    Community should look wider than just internal, we are part of local communities and our values should highlight their value to us, and our place within them as a civic institution

    1. We’ve been working on KPIs that match Strategy 2025 and will have an important discussion with our governors about this topic at the Court Strategy Day shortly. Watch this space.

  7. I am curious to know whether the old value of ‘Valuing and Respecting Everyone’ has been made less prominent, due to the fact that professional service staff are paid less than our academic colleagues on the same grade.

    1. I don’t think it is unreasonable that in a university we prize and reward academic talent. But I don’t think this is what is meant by the value and respect. In my mind this is about we are all treated and respected for our various and different contribution to our university.

  8. I like the words all starting with the same letter.

    I like: no. 1 and no.3 as they are.

    I think no. 2 would be better saying creative rather than creativity.

    I don’t like no. 4 courage – it sounds like we are an army … maybe we are?! I think from the other words in the statement confident would be a better choice of c word rather than courage.

  9. I question whether we have ever celebrated the diversity of staff as it took a lot of effort for the University to acknowledge Brexit affected 100s of staff at all levels of organisations.

    How many staff have disclosed a disability? How many staff have come out and said I have a mental health problem? Probably only those an inch from being fired or put on capability. What has the University done to address the gender pay gap?

    How about excellence in how staff are managed – excellence just doesn’t come from nowhere; it has to be nurtured and not assumed or bullied out of people?

    The university in my opinion has almost no respect for its staff – HWU needs to hold a mirror up to itself and stop coming up with statements it simply has no respect for or any real attention of upholding.

    The values meant nothing before and will mean nothing until this university has a good look at itself and stop rewarding and over recognising a range of senior and other level managers who look after nothing but their own interests.

    1. Thank you for your comment. It is the aim of our new strategy to ensure we move from an organisation which has values to one that it values led, hence this consultation.

      We do have a number of actions already in place, particularly in relation to addressing the gender pay gap, supporting colleagues with disabilities and students and staff with mental health issues.

      We are currently analysing feedback from the staff survey which will also help formulate actions to address your concerns.

      I hope as we move forward with Strategy 2025 we can become a truly values led organisation so feedback on our values is appreciated.

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