"The values of Let’s get real are strongly upheld and embedded in everything Odyssey does, from modelling it in our leadership and operations right through to our performance reviews and induction and recruitment programme.” 

- Maxine Corbett, Odyssey Addiction Services

Odyssey’s Addiction Services has been exploring how a ‘values and attitudes’ approach could help further develop the organisation. The work has been led by Jenny Boyle, odyssey’s general manager of operations, and Brody Runga, Odyssey’s consumer advisor.

Values and attitudes

The springboard for the work was a values and attitudes workshop led by Emma Wood and Caro Swanson of Te Pou and held with Odyssey’s senior management staff. This was an opportunity to reflect on Odyssey's pillars:

  • Love
  • Concern
  • Honesty
  • Responsibility
  • Trust.

After the workshop it was decided it would be good to roll out similar workshops to every team in Odyssey and that any further work with Odyssey’s pillars should be aligned with the agreed values and attitudes.

Engagement of Odyssey leadership was seen as a key to making this work. “That was about getting all Odyssey leadership on the same page to explore these values. And the intention from that workshop was that we would roll this out for the whole workforce, working with each of the operations managers,” says human resources consultant Maxine Corbett.

Maxine says the values of Let’s get real are strongly upheld and embedded in everything Odyssey does, “from modelling it in our leadership and operations right through to our performance reviews and induction and recruitment programme.” 


During the performance review process team members are given the chance to pick some of the Let’s get real values and bring their own stories to demonstrate how they’re working with those topics in a day-to-day way. 

“What came out of the sessions we held with staff was that there was so much more we could do in terms of our consumers and our staff in how we use the Let’s get real framework, and making that our culture,” Maxine says. 

And Brody says the real value was in supporting the workforce to do what they do well and in a values-driven way.

Thirteen workshops were scheduled across the organisation and these have been attended by all staff including adult and youth services, drug treatment programmes within Paremoremo and Springhill prisons and the Alcohol and other Drug Treatment Courts. Brody delivered these workshops in partnership with the operational managers of the participating teams.

Lived experience

Brody used his own lived experience to challenge how people might be seeing the people they work with, but it was also important that the operations managers of each team were absolutely supportive and dedicated to making sure consumers get the benefits of values-informed practice.

The workshops highlighted some crucial messages to the Odyssey workforce. The first was that our leadership are very serious about mobilising change from deep within the organisation and that we want everybody, from consumers to staff members to managers, to benefit from an organisation-wide values informed and driven approach. 

A second key message was that an authentic partnership approach with consumers was critical.

“My role, coming from a lived experience perspective, was to ensure we got buy-in from the operations managers and workforce; that there was understanding and acceptance that if we involve consumers in this work, it will have greater legitimacy and encourage consumer engagement."

Benefits for consumers

Brody believes consumers will benefit from this new emphasis in a variety of ways. “I think consumers will now see that our teams have better processes,” Brody says. 

“It’s clearer that our teams have a better understanding of what recovery means and how things are linked to other providers in the community. The workshops also identified workforce training needs such as trauma informed care and person-centred approaches, recovery capital and strengths based approaches, informed consent and client rights.

“What seems to have been the tipping point was that Odyssey has understood it needed to develop its workforce around values-informed practice. And there’s a lot of evidence that the best way to accomplish this is face-to-face,” says Jo Van Leeuwen, project lead at Te Pou. 

“This is how I wanted to do things,” Brody says. “I was thinking about how best to affect people’s motivations. To have a long-lasting influence on What we do and How we do it, we need to understand the Why we are doing it – this is about understanding our values and attitudes. It was about challenging people directly and getting those leverage points. That’s where you begin to break open those better understandings.”

Odyssey pillars

It was also really important that the new values informed approach tied in with the Odyssey pillars. “With each of the values we explored, we asked the workforce to reflect on the pillars and to see where the alignments are,” Brody says.

“Some of the big themes that were highlighted were around really defining respect and engagement with our staff and clients. Another major theme was understanding how our staff are connecting with each other, with other teams within the organisation; how they’re connecting with the clients and family/whānau, and how we’re connecting with the community and service providers.”

The next steps will be to analyse the feedback from the teams about the workshops and to determine what the priorities are for each team and for the organisation as a whole. The aim is for staff to be partners in creating a revised workforce development strategy as it will be built largely upon their input. Maxine has also developed a staff engagement survey which will further help development of the overall strategy. 

Next steps

The plan is to have Te Pou meet with Odyssey’s senior management team and reflect on what progress has been made and what the next steps should be for the organisation.

“We always need to be thinking about what’s next. It might be addressing stigma, for example, or further exploration of the Let’s get real capabilities. We’re not quite sure yet, but it will be positive,” Brody says.