Refreshing our Values to Keep us Focussed and Inspired

This past year, Skills undertook the journey to refresh its value statements in order to reflect the unique and effective approach we take in delivering our services. This collaborative process involved the Skills Board of Directors, staff and the voices of those we support, along with their families. As the year unfolded, and the COVID crisis emerged and then deepened, it became clear that these new values – who we are and why it matters – reflected Skills at its very best. A resilient organization with a commitment to adapting and thinking creatively about its challenges.

Why it Matters

In the past, people with disabilities were left out of important conversations that affected their lives. We believe that our planning, policies, procedures, and pathways are more effective when they are informed by and responsive to the needs of the people whose lives they impact.

Operating Principles

  • We focus our services around the lived experiences of the people we support
  • We plan our services in creative and engaging ways in order to make them meaningful and relevant
  • We ensure our solutions are the most empowering, least intrusive and safest for the people affected
  • We build and strengthen healthy relationships in everything we do
  • We work equally to solve big picture problems and on-the-ground needs

Why it Matters

We believe that real social change comes from collective effort. By sharing resources and working closely with other like-minded organizations, we raise the voice of the disability community and take a leading role in building more inclusive communities.

Operating Principles

  • We treat invitations to collaborate as opportunities to help achieve our vision and mission
  • We use the Action Lab and other initiatives to open up relationships and spur innovative ideas
  • We look beyond our organization for new and different ways to achieve our vision
  • We place trust at the centre of any relationship – because that’s what enables collaboration
  • We embrace the sometimes slower nature of collaborative work when it is necessary

Why it Matters

In order to become better problem solvers, we work hard to learn through our actions and study excellence in others. We are committed to trying new ideas, seeking input on our work, and building a learning organization each and every day.

Operating Principles

  • We actively seek out new knowledge and view continuous learning as essential to our role as leaders
  • We learn through reflecting on our actions and studying the work of others
  • We strive to mix solutions that are old, new and sometimes surprising
  • We generously share what we build and learn with others

Why it Matters

Helping people with disabilities live fulfilling lives is not an easy, straightforward road. It is complex work – from the needs of the people we serve to the interconnected policies that shape their world. Rather than shy away from these challenges, we meet them head-on with creativity, determination and collective effort.

Operating Principles

  • We experiment with multiple ways to address tough issues in order to improve the chances we find a solution
  • We embrace ambiguity, difficulty and tension as opportunities for creative thinking and innovative responses
  • We are comfortable knowing that measuring success in our work is not an exact science with clear answers
  • We are relentless but patient in our efforts to navigate and make progress on tough issues

Why it Matters

Life is full of change. We know that if our strategies and systems are too rigid and static, we risk our services becoming less useful or relevant. Instead, we are stronger when we are more agile in responding to changing contexts and uncertain times.

Operating Principles

  • We stay razor focused on our vision and mission yet flexible in how we pursue them
  • We constantly scan our world – inside and out – to identify opportunities and barriers for our work
  • We boldly seek out new insights – even failures – and adapt our work to reflect our learning
  • We promote clear and constant communication to enable us to pivot quickly if required
  • We adjust and revisit decisions when new information is presented or as political, social, and environmental contexts shift
  • We remain open to new solutions in the face of changing times
  • We listen deeply to understand what is really going on and what is needed