The Difference Between Mindset, Values, and Principles

The following is from the attendees to the Enterprise Coaching course slack team conversation that all participants to my class are invited to join. I am sharing it here in the hope it might be useful for others. This is my reply to the question of what is the difference between mindset, values, and principles.


I define the mindset as 3 beliefs.

The complexity belief

Many of the challenges we face are complex adaptive problems, meaning that by trying to solve these problems we change the nature of the problem itself.

As a corollary to the complexity belief, an attribute of complex adaptive problems is that the end solution is not predictable at the outset.

The people belief

Every person is intrinsically good, meaning they are well-intentioned. They are motivated by higher purpose, meaning they are motivated to be part of something bigger than themselves. That they operate in service to others in order to achieve this.

Everyone has the potential, given that their basic needs are met, to be more than they are currently. *Treat everyone with unconditional positive regard.*

The proactive belief

Proactivity in the relentless pursuit of improvement.

That to me is the mindset.

Of course there are many definitions and you can fold other things into it, however, every single problem in organisational change that I have found comes down to someone somewhere not having one of these beliefs



As defined in the NTL Handbook of organisation change:

Values are the roots of the beliefs that matter to us and the field’s practitioners, while ethics are the guidelines that govern how we practice our craft.

So these to me are things like:

Courage to speak up, psychological safety, respect, love for one another,

These are intangible roots of belief, or if you like, they are the foundations of things we value. The values of Scrum and XP combined are:

Scrum Values of: Courage; Focus; Commitment; Respect; Openness

XP Values of: Simplicity; Communication: Feedback: Respect; Courage.



If it is a call to action specific to the context, then it becomes a principle

So I would say both “deliver value continuously” and “make people awesome” are principles.

A value would be that people are awesome

This is the world according to me, I don’t have a reference for this particular separation of meaning. It is what I teach, and importantly, seems to work in practice. I hope this helps anyone trying to explain the difference.


Simon Powers is the CEO and founder of Adventures with Agile. He has over 20 years’ experience helping very large organisations to thrive in the market and to be better places to work. His approach led him to create our transformative ICAgile Certified Enterprise Agile Coaching training courses, which run worldwide and online. Simon is one of the first ICE-EC experts in the world.