Venezuela – Trying to Seed Values in a Troubled Society

By Helio Borges for Enlivening Edge Magazine

A longer version of this article was published originally on

Introduction by EE Magazine:

We feel this as a desperate cry from the heart from a whole country. We publish it to give that cry a louder voice in the world; who knows who might hear it from EE Magazine and respond helpfully. It’s pretty remarkable that this group, part of the worldwide u.lab movement, is using Richard Barrett’s values-based developmental framework to try to understand and shift what is happening in Venezuela.

Here’s part of the backstory from the author: “The program that we are facilitating is “u.lab.Transforming Business, Society and Self,” and we use the “Barrett Values Centre Venezuela Assessment” in order to make sense of what’s happening. We are not Barrett Values Centre certified consultants; we use the report because Richard Barrett in person gave it to me after he learned of our intentions. That gesture from Richard says a lot about his human quality. He is a man who practices what he preaches, and much more than that.”


Last February 10th we launched the program “U Leadership for Societal Change” code named “Proyecto Hikola” (Hikola means vital energy in Yanomani language). It is an 8-week sensitization program based on Otto Scharmer’s U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society and Self. We teach it to more than 100 key members of the Venezuelan educational ecosystem (teachers, parents, administrative staff, workers and managers) of 25 schools belonging to all the social strata of the Venezuelan society.

We are training them as Social Change Agents who will have the responsibility of promoting reconciliation and integration in their communities through a process based on individual, family, social, and citizen recognition.

With this program, we hope to spark the beginning of a cultural transformation of their communities, which will be a key factor in the reconstruction of the fractured Venezuelan social mesh.

We, the members of the Caracas u.lab Hub, Maria Antonieta Angarita, Marietta Perroni, and Helio Borges, were able to forge alliances with key stakeholders:

According to the report BVC Action for Happiness, made by Phil Clothier, CEO of Barrett Values Centre, Venezuela has a 72% Cultural Entropy rating, the highest among the countries participating in the study. Barrett Values Centre defines Cultural Entropy as “the degree of dysfunction (friction and frustration) in an organization or any human group structure (community or nation) that is generated by the self-serving, fear-based actions of the leaders. As the Cultural Entropy score increases, the level of trust and internal cohesion decreases”.

This exceedingly high index points to the serious tensions in all areas of our society, manifested by the current collapse of the economic, social, and political structures and institutions. Most people in Venezuela are paralyzed by fear, unable to act; they respond to the crisis with frustration, rage, and blame–and later on, with a collective depression.

Many people, having lost all hope, are leaving the country, some as qualified immigrants in other countries, and others ,  the majority, as refugees. There is a minority of people working on the causes of the crisis, because at its core, this is a crisis of values. We are among that minority.

Our focus is to bring a consciousness of values to our society through the trainings that I described before. We are very resilient and steadfast in our efforts.

Therefore, for us this is not only a matter of doing the right thing, or about seeding consciousness in a troubled society and transforming it into a sustainable one. On top of all that, for us this is a matter of survival; we do not have a choice. 

We need the collaboration of institutions that finance these types of programs, because in order to create a critical mass of positive change in the Venezuelan society, we must continue training Social Change Makers. With their help, we can be the catalysts for the change that this society is longing for.



Helio Borges is a u.lab systemic change maker, ontological coach, wellbeing & values promoter and facilitator, and bilingual writer (Spanish is his first language) Get in touch with him by: Facebook:  Instagram: @heboga Twitter: @hborgesg Medium: @hborgesg