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Diamond Star A method to open imagination and envisioning multiple pathways toward a future


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The Diamond Star is a personal foresight method that proposes a creative exercise to discover individual possibility. It helps to open imagination and envision multiple pathways toward a future by utilizing values assessment to align one's vision with deeply held values and commitments.
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Diamond Star
A method to open imagination and envisioning
multiple pathways toward a future
Jananda Lima & Peter Jones, September 2018
“We have entered an Age of Disruption. Yet the possibility of profound
personal, societal, and global renewal has never been more real.
Now is our time.”
Otto Scharmer
Innovation is now a trend. The Government is investing in several innovation labs, most large
companies have it under their strategy plans, and it is part of other many companies’ brand
pillars. But we are producing results that nobody wants (Scharmer & Kaufer, 2014).
We’ve reached the extreme with a mindset of competition, material consumption, and an
irresponsible lack of systemic impacts accountability. Taking that as our current culture, how
can we assure we are moving forward embracing this disruptive momentum to allow
sustainable changes to emerge, instead of reacting using the patterns of the past?
Theory U, one of the many theories pointing the challenges we are facing today, says that the
symptoms of our current situation are visible as a structure of eight significant disconnects that
constitute three divides: ecological, social and spiritual-cultural (fig 1).
Fig 1: The iceberg model. Leading from the emerging future: From ego-system to eco-system economies. Scharmer &
Kaufer, 2014.
As of the systemic disconnects related to the individual and how we relate to others, two main
symptoms rise:
1. Disconnection to the self: a disconnection between our actions and what we really want;
2. Leadership void: The helplessness and disempowerment feeling as a hallmark of our
systemwide leadership void today.
The disconnection to the self leads to unhappiness with what we’re doing. We got to this point
because “most of the assumptions we hold were acquired from the pool of the culturally
accepted assumptions.” (Senge, 1990, p.225)
One of the consequences of these disconnects is discouraged professionals in all segments
(fig 2). The dissatisfaction of the society with the current systems when looking for a new
career means trying new ways to achieve a meaningful life.
Percentage of workers that want to change careers (in the US):
Fig 2: University of Phoenix, 2017
A person’s quality of life is, in part, related to their aspirations. The dissatisfaction is associated
with the lack of engagement that one has with the work they are doing. The enrollment of a
person to a cause, a project, or a job can have different levels of engagement.
Fig 3: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Peter M. Senge, 1990
In other words, vision is required if we want to be committed and, therefore, fulfilled. According
to Peter Senge (1990), shared vision is one of the five disciplines necessary to create a learning
organization. It provides commitment essential to strive accomplishment to what matters
deeply to people and addresses the leadership void.
The gap between vision (what we truly want to create) and current reality (what exists today)
generates energy for action to move towards to vision (Senge,1990). That underlies the creative
tension (fig 4) that leads to commitment and, therefore, to better interactions and results in the
innovation field.
Fig 4: Creative Tension
What matters is not the vision itself, but the attitudes and behaviours that come out of it, such
as the level of commitment and generative learning.
But a shared vision can only be achieved through individuals' perception. The first step for
building conscientious innovation teams is that those individuals develop a profound knowledge
of self, as self-reflection is key to creating desired futures.
So in the innovation context, there are steps required to allow space for the emergence of
significant changes, starting from self-knowledge and assessment of what is right and wrong
and what is most important in life (Cambridge English Dictionary, n.d.). As values are the criteria
people use to evaluate events ( Schwartz, 2006), it influences our behaviour, our planning of
action, and our decisions.
Fig 4: steps to allow the emergence of significant changes
The Diamond Star [DS] (Jones, 2012) is a personal foresight method that proposes a creative
exercise to discover individual possibility. It helps to open imagination and envision multiple
pathways toward the future.
Dr Peter Jones, from the Strategic Innovation Lab at OCAD University and developer of the DS
method, proposes that we utilize values assessment to align one's vision with deeply held
values and commitments.
The method utilizes a canvas to help to organize and correlate values, aspirations/actions, and
our future possibilities. In this way, all three aspects of life can be compared and balanced.
Facilitation Guide
Though the method was developed for personal assessment, it is suggested to be used in
workshops with groups of people working in pairs.
Step 1 | Crossroads Values
Peter Block (2005) suggests that the conversation for possibility needs to come before
problem-solving. The future is created through a declaration of what possibility we stand for.
Out of his suggestion, the exercise opens with the question:
What are the crossroads that you find yourself at this moment?
Then list:
Core Values - never abandoned, no matter where you go
Calling - what’s calling you forward (to the future)
Anti-values - what you wouldn’t agree with. What you don’t put first
Step 2 | Possibilities
The participants are invited to think about their possibilities and answer the following questions:
What are your highest aspirations (or your vision)?
What’s worth spending your career on?
How might you change something in the world a year from now? What’s possible?
Fig 5: The Diamond Star Canvas - Opening questions and possibilities
Fig 6: The Diamond Star Canvas - Page 2
The Diamond Star canvas represents an aspirational timeline. An open-format to construct a
map of life’s expression of values in action.
Use the questions you already answered to help to fill the DS canvas.
Step 3 | Past
Start with listing core, long-standing or lifelong values on the left
side, within the region between Values and suggested by “Past”.
This part of the canvas is inspired by Causal Layered Analysis - a
method in which its utility is not in predicting the future but in
creating transformative spaces for the creation of alternative
futures (Inayatullah, 2004).
Your lifelong values represent your learning and wisdom from the past that you carry forward
into any future. The categories from Causal Layered Analysis represent these lifelong values:
Litany - can be described as a headline, an exaggeration for easy understanding
Systemic issues - how conventions in society mold and lead you to these values.
Worldview - discerning and digging further the unquestioned deep assumptions legitimated by
personal experiences, and social, economic, cultural, historical, and linguistic structures.
Myth - use symbolism and metaphor to evoke unconscious dimensions of values. Emotional
level: touches the heart, rather than reading the heart. (Ramos, 2012)
Step 4 | Aspirations
The upper middle part of the canvas represents your current
aspirations and desires for growth or accomplishment.
List these from the “highest” in your view to those in the lower
middle of the canvas, which might represent current projects and
learning or development programs, such as a higher degree or self-directed study. These can
also be seen as ordering from “most aspirational and intangible” to “tangible, deliverable
Step 5 | Destinations
On the right side, list possible future outcomes, and directions that
extend your lifelong values and a given aspiration toward a possible
and preferable future. Again, list these from the longest-term, most
outrageous “high” possibilities with the highest reach (at the top) to
more concrete, near-term and probable outcomes toward the bottom.
Step 6 | Sensemaking
As an exercise that permeates the objective and the subjective, it is essential that, while doing it,
you go back and forth and use the different columns as filters to balance and align values,
aspirations and possible futures. It might help to evaluate your actions and projects today to
steer awareness towards a preferable future.
With that being said, the method can be used in different times of your life, as the canvas is a
snapshot of a period that in reality moves forward and presents different possibilities as you
make choices in life.
What connects us with collective change is how we define our relationships. Mental models are
conceptual structures held in each person’s mind that shape the way that each person
perceives the world and, as a result, acts in it (Flood, 1999).
When we are not aware of our mental models, when they are unexamined, they remain
unchanged (Senge, 1990). Acknowledging our values and building possible visions are essential
to assess both self-reflection and tacit mental models we hold.
DS can help to unpack the personal and, as a consequence, the collective unconscious and help
to steer awareness towards healthier futures. It opens the doors for a conversation to find
shared values in a group of people.
Analyzing the DS brought to light some ideas of different uses for the method (Appendix A, B,
and C) as self-knowledge, values, and vision alignment are fundamental for the kind of a
change-making required for a common desired future.
The natural continuity of this investigation is to adapt the method for use in large groups of
people, as a way to co-create strategies, shared visions or even shared values.
A new business could also take advantage of the method using it to define the business plan
and offerings (value proposition) based on its values.
Startups can somehow avail of the method’s logic to evaluate potential investors (and
vice-versa) as a way to mitigate divergence in business views and, consequently, premature end
of business as a result of the lack of alignment between partners.
Block, Peter. (2005).
Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community Changing the Nature of the
[Brochure]. Author.
Debats, D. L. H. M. (1996).
Meaning in life: psychometric, clinical and phenomenological aspects
: s.n.
Flood, R. (1999).
Rethinking the Fifth Discipline
. London: Routledge.
Inayatullah, S. (2004).
Causal Layered Analysis: An Integrative and Transformative Theory and Method
Tamkang University.
Jones, P. (2012, February 24).
Designing a Future for our Future: Personal Foresight. Design With
Retrieved December 13, 2018, from
London, S. (n.d.).
Community: The Structure of Belonging, Book Review.
Retrieved November 15, 2018,
Maslow's B-values from TPB. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2018, from
Ramos, J. (2012, April 26).
Causal Layered Analysis
. Retrieved November 15, 2018, from
Rokeach, M. (1977).
The nature of human values.
New York: The Free Press.
Scharmer, O., & Kaufer, K. (2014).
Leading from the emerging future: From ego-system to eco-system
Kbh.: Nota.
Schwartz, S. H. (2007).
Basic human values: Theory, methods, and application.
Risorsa Uomo
Schwartz, S. H. (2006).
Basic human values: Theory, measurement, and applications. Revue
française de Sociologie
Schwartz, S.H., & Bardi, A. (1997)
. Influences of adaptation to communist rule on value
priorities in Eastern Europe.
Political Psychology, 18, 385-410.
VALUE | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2018, from
Considering an audience that is not familiar with the causal layered analysis method, a simplified version
of the DS uses a value classification system based on Milton Rokeach (1977) research, that proposes two
sets of values:
Instrumental Values
Preferable modes of behaviour or means of achieving the terminal values.
Ambitious (hardworking)
Broadminded (open-minded)
Capable (competent, efficient)
Cheerful ( lighthearted, joyful)
Clean (neat, tidy)
Courageous (standing up for your beliefs)
Forgiving (willing to pardon)
Helpful (working for the welfare of others)
Honest (sincere, truthful)
Imaginative (daring, creative)
Independent (self-reliant, self-sufficient)
Intellectual (intelligent, reflective)
Logical (consistent, rational)
Loving (affectionate, tender)
Obedient (dutiful, respectful)
Polite (courteous, well-mannered)
Responsible (dependable, reliable)
Self-controlled (restrained, self-disciplined)
Terminal Values
Desirable end-states of existence; the goals that a person would like to achieve during their lifetime.
A comfortable life (a prosperous life)
An exciting life (a stimulating, active life)
A sense of accomplishment (lasting contribution)
A world of peace (free of war and conflict)
A world of beauty (the beauty of nature and the arts)
Equality (brotherhood, equal opportunity for all)
Family security (taking care of loved ones)
Freedom (independence, free choice)
Happiness ( contentedness)
Inner harmony (freedom from inner conflict)
Mature love (sexual and spiritual intimacy)
National security (protection from attack)
Pleasure (an enjoyable, leisurely life)
Salvation (saved, eternal)
Social recognition (respect, admiration)
True friend (close companionship)
Wisdom ( a mature understanding of life)
Maslow’s B-Values list can also be provided to help the user:
WHOLENESS (unity; integration; tendency to one-ness; interconnectedness; simplicity; order)
PERFECTION (necessity; just-right-ness; just-so-ness; suitability; justice;; "oughtness")
COMPLETION (ending; finality; justice; "it's finished"; fulfilment; destiny; fate)
JUSTICE (fairness; orderliness; lawfulness; "oughtness")
ALIVENESS (process; non-deadness; spontaneity; self-regulation; full-functioning)
RICHNESS (differentiation, complexity; intricacy)
SIMPLICITY (honesty; nakedness; essentiality; abstract, essential, skeletal structure)
BEAUTY (form; aliveness; simplicity; richness; wholeness; perfection; completion;)
GOODNESS (rightness; desirability; oughtness; justice; benevolence; honesty)
UNIQUENESS (idiosyncrasy; individuality; non-comparability; novelty)
EFFORTLESSNESS (ease; lack of strain, striving or difficulty; grace; perfect)
PLAYFULNESS (fun; joy; amusement; gaiety; humour; exuberance; effortlessness)
TRUTH (honesty; reality; nakedness; simplicity; richness; oughtness; beauty; pure)
SELF-SUFFICIENCY (autonomy; independence; self-determining; environment-transcendence;
separateness; living by its own laws).
Fig 7: The Simplified Diamond Star Canvas
After working individually and becoming familiar with the DS, a group of people will be able to work
The suggestion is to put the DS canvas (fig. 5) in a large scale print on the wall so everyone can add
sticky notes on it with their own perspective.
The second step is to understand the commonality underlying all of their ideas to build shared visions.
This canvas is suggested for a new business that has assessed its values. The method can help to create
products and services that generate positive changes in its community.
Fig 8: The Business Diamond Star Canvas
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Applying the values construct in the social sciences has suffered from the absence of an agreed-upon conception of basic values, of the content and structure of relations among these values, and of reliable methods to measure them. This article presents data from over 70 countries, using two different instruments, to validate a theory intended to fill pan of this gap. It concerns the basic values that individuals in all cultures recognize. The theory identifies 10 raotivationally distinct values and specifies the dynamics of conflict and congruence among them. These dynamics yield a structure of relations among values common to culturally diverse groups, suggesting an universal organization of human motivations. Individuals and groups differ in the priorities they assign to these values. The article examines sources of individual differences in value priorities and behavioral and attitudinal consequences that follow from holding particular value priorities. In doing so, it considers processes through which values are influenced and through which they influence action.
Full-text available
The basic value priorities prevalent in Eastern Europe are studied in a cross-national comparison. Analyses of the implications of adaptation to life circumstances under communist regimes lead to the hypotheses that East European samples are likely to attribute especially high importance to conservatism and hierarchy values and low importance to egalitarianism, intellectual and affective autonomy, and mastery values. The same hypotheses apply to differences between countries within Eastern Europe in which there was greater or lesser communist penetration. These hypotheses are largely supported with data both from samples of school teachers and of university students from nine Eastern European and 12 Western European countries. Various possible alternative explanations are discussed: national economic level, religion, earlier shared history, effects of totalitarianism, and distinctiveness of Western Europe.
We have entered an age of disruption. Financial collapse, climate change, resource depletion, and a growing gap between rich and poor are but a few of the signs. Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer ask, why do we collectively create results nobody wants? Meeting the challenges of this century requires updating our economic logic and operating system from an obsolete “ego-system” focused entirely on the well-being of oneself to an eco-system awareness that emphasizes the well-being of the whole. Filled with real-world examples, this thought-provoking guide presents proven practices for building a new economy that is more resilient, intentional, inclusive, and aware.
The present research was undertaken to further investigate the clinical and phenomenological aspects of the construct of meaning in life. It was decided to adopt Battista and Almond’s approach to meaning in life as a guiding theoretical framework, to select the Life Regard Index (LRI) as a criterion measure for assessing the construct of meaning in life and to investigate the multiple aspects of values and the meaning in life construct in subjects of one developmental life phase, i.e. young adults. The first aim of the present research, then, was to investigate the psychometric properties of the two central instruments in this research, the LRI and RVS.
Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community Changing the Nature of the Conversation
  • Peter Block
Block, Peter. (2005). Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community Changing the Nature of the Conversation [Brochure]. Author.
​ Rethinking the Fifth Discipline​
  • R Flood
Flood, R. (1999). ​ Rethinking the Fifth Discipline​. London: Routledge.