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Of Interest

See archived entries


New project values launched

Collaboration, Accountability, Respect and Excellence drive the future of fusion for a diverse staff.

Collaboration, Accountability, Respect, Excellence (Click to view larger version...)
Collaboration, Accountability, Respect, Excellence
When Pietro Barabaschi joined as ITER Director-General to lead the project through a challenging phase, a main priority he set early on was to create a culture that would unify ITER's diverse contributors and set a transformative course that would motivate and guide staff in their way of working together. An essential factor in creating a new culture is defining shared values.

ITER's corporate values applied only to the ITER Organization and were no longer relevant for the current phase of the project. To define the new cultural roadmap, it was necessary to redefine the vision together with representatives from across the Project, taking into account the challenges of today.

Director-General Barabaschi tasked the Internal Communications Manager, Shira Tabachnikoff, to collaborate with the seven ITER Domestic Agencies and select ITER staff members to develop values that would nurture a common culture.  She created an ITER Project Values Working Group that met several times to discuss the vision of the project today, the behaviours that would help overcome challenges, the diverse perceptions of ways of working, and most of all, the responsibility felt by so many who work at ITER to ensure a future with fusion. The pressure on staff combined with their strong motivation to succeed and contribute led the group to decide on four overarching values: Collaboration, Accountability, Respect and Excellence. Together these form CARE, a word that also reflects empathy and dedication. The group was pleased by the different levels of meaning that CARE embodies.

"There were many discussions about the types of values and behaviours the project should embody—including a focus on technical and scientific expertise, innovation, and safety and quality. In the end, we agreed that many of the best engineers and scientists are drawn to the challenge of fusion and are strongly motivated to work hard and achieve success. To balance these ambitions, and ensure ITER is sustainable, we settled on the 'fusion' of the four values into CARE," says Tabachnikoff.

The four values capture many aspects of the type of culture we aim to shape together. Collaboration, for example, is all about teamwork and building partnerships, working across silos and geographical distance. Accountability encourages transparency, sharing information and meeting commitments.  Respect focuses on the need to embrace diversity and inclusiveness, and ways to communicate under pressure while keeping cultural differences in mind. Excellence incorporates a strong focus on safety, quality, precision and high standards of integrity. These values are defined into behaviours in the newly revised ITER Code of Conduct.

As Director-General Barabaschi noted to staff on the day of the launch, "ITER means 'The Way,' and CARE will be 'The ITER Way,' where ITER is not just the ITER Organization but also all those who take part of this project. The CARE values provide a common culture for the project, fostering a shared purpose that transcends cultural and professional differences. They establish an ethical framework that guides us in our everyday work at ITER, covering many behaviours that are crucial to our sustained success. I believe in the importance of each CARE value, even more so knowing that these were chosen by representatives from each Domestic Agency as well as by ITER staff from diverse sections and countries."

Freshly launched, the ITER Project's CARE Values are at the start of their journey. Now come the next steps to build these values into the behaviours and mindsets of ITER contributors. A series of workshops with ITER managers and staff is planned where, together, they can define their own CARE "testaments," incorporating the values in work with contractors and in recruiting staff. New branding and collaborative projects will all come next.

According to Tabachnikoff, one thing the ITER Project Values Working Group agreed on was that "we need to perform our work with care, we care for the well-being of our colleagues, our families and ourselves, and—very importantly—we care about the health of the planet for generations to come."  "It's a lot of responsibility on our shoulders, so we need to 'handle with care.' There is a lot riding on our work!"

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