Category Archives: Culture
As we consult with our clients we are hearing some of the same rhetoric that relates to the reasons why businesses and organizations are not doing as well as the CEO thinks it can.
Here are a few questions to ponder when you find your business in a stall;
When did it stop being the dream?
When did enough stop being enough?
Sadly, surveys that have been generated by credible organizations like Gallup are beginning to inform the employer’s of a desperate issue of a lack of engagement by employees.
The statistics are alarming and should be a call to action to any business organization that has an intention of remaining in business or determined to dominate the marketplace. We often hear that it is difficult to find the right employees. Those employees who are congruent and build an organization or business with passion and the kind of perseverance that it takes to be a workable team. The issue that we are diagnosing has nothing to do with finding the right employees but rather engaging those employees in the areas of their passion.
If you were to survey most people, you would find that they want to be part of a growing thriving and excellent workplace.
We are discovering that it is not so much a lack of the discovery of these gems (great employees) but rather the strategic development of a quality culture. We identify the culture, a culture of high trust. In a culture of trust you have a minimal need for the kind of compliant instruments that are typically used by the HR departments, and fewer reasons to police and enforce the rules. People who know that they are trusted and trust the upper management have a tendency to want to please and to ensure the work that they do is of the kind of quality that develops a reputation that continues to build market share.
Often we hear other issues like cash flow concerns, I am learning to substitute the words management issues for the words cash flow when I hear it. We are learning the cultures that take personal responsibility and ensure that culture is in a continuous state of personal leadership effectiveness is one that is more optimal and produces greater benefits for its constituents or customers.
if you find yourself, like many business and organizational leaders in a state of frustration, the good news is; there are answers.
Start by deciding to develop your culture into a high trust culture.
Commit to building an organization that is designed to continuously improve.
Be a lifelong learner, as well as a teacher.
Do not quit during the process.
High yielding relationships are relationships of high trust.
Hire a quality consulting firm, who have quality coaches to ensure the process is successful.
Process Consulting, assumes that you understand the need to continuously improve and develop self-sufficient teams that have both competency and character. At the center of that scale is trust.
Our organization over the years have learned that these kinds of cultures that are intentional are the ones that grow.
Recently I’ve been reading a book about scarcity. I’ve always thought of scarcity as being bad however this book has helped to reframe how I view scarcity. In the below narrative, it discusses the concept of gaming. When we work with businesses and organizations we often use an experiential training module to help them to discover areas within themselves that may be preventing them from operating at the highest level of human performance. Essentially, one of the goals for us is to create a culture of trust that involves a total intellectual contribution and involves the heart passion of the community that is building the business or organization. The central concept of gaming is to create a virtual experience to help the learner to retain and to create higher levels of proficiency, while keeping them engaged.
The book, Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much is helping me to understand that scarcity, in fact is a good thing. When we are forced through scarcity to focus, the key concept is that we begin to operate more optimally.
In the study, subjects played twenty rounds, earning points that translated to prizes. In each new round they received another set of blueberries. They could shoot all the blueberries they had or they could bank some for use in future rounds. If they ended the twenty rounds with blueberries saved up, they could play more rounds and continue accumulating points as long as they had blueberries left. In this game, blueberries determined one’s wealth. More blueberries meant more shots, which meant more points and a better prize. The next step was to create blueberry scarcity. We made some subjects blueberry rich (they were given six blueberries per round) and others blueberry poor (given only three per round). So how did they do? Of course, the rich scored more points because they had more blueberries to shoot with. But looked at another way, the poor did better: they were more accurate with their shots. This was not because of some magical improvement in visual acuity. The poor took more time on each shot. (There was no limit on how long they could take.) They aimed more carefully. They had fewer shots, so they were more judicious. The rich, on the other hand, just let the blueberries fly. It is not that the rich, simply because they had more rounds, got bored and decided to spend less time on the task. Nor is it that they became fatigued. Even on the first shots they were already less focused and less careful than the poor.
Mullainathan, Sendhil; Shafir, Eldar (2013-09-03). Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much (p. 25). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.
The question really comes down to how much pain that you are in as an organizational leader, and what you are willing to do to lesson that pain. When the market has shifted and profits are down, it is time to evaluate what you can do, and should do to improve. We are finding many business and organizational leaders in virtual stuck posture, they simply do not know what to do – so they are doing nothing. What is fascinating is that during these times the fear that exists can cause that organizational leader to be in a mode of paralysis. The real threat then becomes frustration, apathy, and an organization filled with contention.
We are learning that during these times where there is less revenue, a shortage of qualified human capital, and a general frustration: that innovation, strategic growth and sustainable change is most possible. It is because of the lack of resources that people are looking for the kinds of solutions that bring their organization and business into alignment, agreement and abundance. Contrary to logic, when things get very difficult that is the best time to make changes.
I would encourage you to consider that you only have one blueberry, that blueberry if it were properly positioned will change your circumstances. Use that blueberry wisely.
I have been enjoying reading the book, Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey.
In this book there is a short illustrative story that helps to bring a person to an awareness.
“Tell me what you see.” Basically I told him I saw a beautiful river with the sun reflecting off the surface of the water. He asked, “Do you see any fish?” I replied that I did not. Then my guide handed me a pair of polarized sunglasses. “Put these on,” he said. Suddenly everything looked dramatically different. As I looked at the river, I discovered I could see through the water. And I could see fish— a lot of fish! My excitement shot up. Suddenly I could sense enormous possibility that I hadn’t seen before. In reality, those fish were there all along, but until I put on the glasses, they were hidden from my view.
Covey, Stephen M.R.; Merrill, Rebecca R. (2006-10-17). The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything (pp. 19-20). Free Press. Kindle Edition.
The idea that trust has its relationship to profitability and efficiency may be a bit foreign to certain cultures and businesses. I find this book particularly intriguing because the work that we are presently doing as a consulting firm have everything to do with the development of cultures of trust.
When you really consider the impact of trust has not only on a personal level but on a professional level it becomes obvious this is a great starting place. After many years of partitioning as a business consultant utilizing the very finest and best practices available we have come to a swift conclusion that short of having trust as the core ingredient it becomes virtually impossible to make any measurable improvement.
One of our foundational tools that we used to help businesses is called, Trust Inside Assessment™. what this measures is the actual trust that exists in the present culture for the purposes of discovery. It is intriguing to find the results of these reports and critical to begin a process of increasing the trust so that an organization can flow. All too often we hear leaders saying things like, “There is a lack of communication” or “We have a cash flow problem” and what they’re looking for really is a Band-Aid solution for a deeper issue. During the discovery phase of the work that we do we often find that there has been some level of betrayal, feelings that have been hurt, or simply people who are just not trustworthy. It is critical to dig down and get to the root issues. when we get to the root issues we discover the real reasons why there’s a communication problem and often related to cash issues.
So to all those who read our blog I would encourage you to consider how trust and character effects your life.
Businesses and organizations today are beginning to realize that business has been radically changing in the rules to operating and sustaining growth have changed. Certainly if we go back in history we can point to times where businesses were challenged, it is through these challenging times that we begin to truly evaluate what best practices are and how can they be practically implemented. In the lean times are when the greatest possibilities for growth exists.
When we look back in history we see many organizations and businesses that were invented, through creative ideas and focus talent empires were built. We are in a historic time where we are experiencing unprecedented challenges. In a sense we are in a period of refreshment and force growth. The reason why I referred to this as a time of refreshment is because we now have opportunity like never before to build utilizing creativity in conjunction with common sense.
Generally when an economy slows down or begins to flow rapidly again the instability causes like yours to play very cautiously. What is definitely true is that in order to remain an industry leader we need to be a mode of continuous improvement. It is imperativee that we evaluate our organization on a regular basis to ensure that we are in position to bring value in exchange for time.
When you think about an entrepreneur, they understand that in order for them to get paid they must have an exchange with another party often that is greater than the resource provided. A change process must keep in mind in order for it to be efficient and effective it is a long-term solution. The day for a quick fix is practically over. Society has in so many ways been marketing for that quick fix yet it requires character to stand.
perhaps this blog is stating the obvious, recently I was reading one of our colleagues blogs and it focused around the need for trust. The issue is that we can talk about trust, but until we have a way to practically measure and to implement the kinds of principles to bring an organization to a point where it is operating with trusting character, it is only a discussion.
In the picture above, you’ll notice a group of people were gathered around an idea. We believe that it is important to measure a culture around issues of trust, have a methodology that works to create alignment, and polish the organization by ensuring that from the CEO down to the janitor that character is ruling the culture so that it will truly be authentic.
Here are the following steps we follow:
1. We meet in a circle, around an idea and have face-to-face discussions with a sampling of people within an organization.
2. Having learned that there was a need for our services we openly discuss the challenge. It may be an issue of communication, an area where trust has been broken, or simply dysfunction within the organization.
3. We discussed the importance of developing a culture and identify the kinds of barriers that would prevent that culture from being optimal.
4. We take diligent notes, identifying specifically areas where concerns may exist. We are looking for gaps, frustrations, lack of understanding, and ultimately the prevailing mindsets and assumptions that have caused the dysfunction or dissatisfaction.
5. Having a quiver of issues, we begin to discuss how the business or organization might be able to move forward and begin to learn key ideas that can help the business and organization function better.
6. At this stage, the trust is increased and mindsets have been broken and a transparent culture is created. This culture gives opportunity to safely discuss and disclose the restrictive behaviors, fresh attitudes, and form new beliefs so the business can begin to move in a direction where it will function more optimally.
7. We now allow for a break, we begin to evaluate learned. Knowing the constraints and desire to overcome we begin to move in a positive direction that is supportive of the team and learn the key ideas that when applied produce the desired end result.
8. Having learned the needs, we begin to structure accountability for long-term sustainability. The process is always done best by invitation. People will resist a change process if they think they’re being forced. Our role as the facilitator is to invite the people groups to participate in the forward movement and to begin enjoying a process that benefits the whole.
If you feel that you have in some way benefited from this article, or have ideas that can help us serve our clients please feel free to contact us below.
Till the next time, enjoy the adventure.
There are many people speaking today about culture. The idea that is being presented is that if you change your culture you will change your organizational success. The real question that exists is how many cultures have truly been changed and are there some case studies that can prove the concept of a cultural change that produces financial benefit and organizational advancement.
As a business consultant I have experienced many businesses and organizations that suffer from having a culture that is operating anywhere near perfection. The culture “hype” gets a bit confusing. For instance, do you need a culture of “coaching”, a culture of “authenticity”, a culture of “Personal Leadership Effectiveness”… and the list goes on.
“Culture can be thought of as the foundation of the social order that we live in and of the rules we abide by”. Schein, Edgar H.
A change process that is designed to improve a culture, in short is extremely hard work and unlikely to produce sustainable change. Many times a business and organizations will hire a consulting firm with the hope for immediate results. We are beginning to understand that absent of basic tenets or the rudiments of business skill, including process, procedures and incentives, an organization will drift off course very easily.
Consulting firms are expensive, I know… we charge lots of money and quite honestly it is frustrating to watch a client drift back into their mess after amazing breakthrough.
The key to engineering a quality change process is to identify leadership that is both willing and wanting to see a culture change with specific defined ends in mind who understand it is a life long process of continuous improvement.
Most organizations or business have a series of cultures and subcultures, many of which are required in order to ensure that business or organization is able to grow and move forward. The issue for many are the alignment of those cultures to a definite end.
For instance, let’s consider a business that has a phone room. In the phone room that culture must be designed to create conversion especially around the sale of its offerings. That very same business may manufacture vitamins for the consumer to use. the manufacturing of vitamins require detail to continuous improvement and quality control. Within the same business you’ll see we have a variety of needs that will in some ways defined the culture.
Our practices learning to develop cultures of character. what this means more specifically is that we begin to help the various cultures to operate at peak levels of performance both personally and professionally. The work that we do is often customized around the need of the business or organization. We see ourselves as architects of business and organizational cultures and as such use appropriate tools to measure the progress and to ensure that the management and the leaders who are involved are able to take part in the transformational process and at the end of the day be proud of the progress that they are making to ensure congruence, success, and growth.
The bottom line to an effective change process especially as a relates to developing a healthy, thriving, and growing culture is to look at your organization through a variety of lenses and understand how each culture within your organization or business functions. True transformation is the result of defining each area within your business or ongoing concern and helping that area to Maximize. It is extremely helpful to have a common vision and a common good that everyone within the organization is able to take part in.
Ultimately, progress happens because leaderships have determined to not only sit at the helm but to take action to ensure that each and every department within their organization and business is advancing.
In the beginning of this article we discussed the basic rudiments that were required to build a more dynamic and growing business organization. It stands to reason that when you take seriously the tasks of people development as well as tend to intentional cultural management that organization will ultimately outperform those that don’t.
- Portacle™ Cultures (portacle.wordpress.com)
As I have been studying about cultures within organizations there are a few points that I would like to elaborate on.
We are learning that the best way to assess a culture is with a group of parties that are part of the culture. The key idea here is to NOT take on a traditional role of a consultant or coach with the attitude of changing a culture BUT to understand how that culture operates. In a well-organized evaluation of a culture, the key concept is to learn what some of the operational issues might be, and were perceived concerns may exist. It is very important prior to performing a cultural review of an organization or business to have a basic understanding of what some of the challenges may be. The key idea and the emphasis is not on changing the culture as much as it is to understand what the prevailing mindsets and assumptions are that may prevent optimal operational efficiency. When evaluating a culture we may discover that there are certain subcultures within the main culture that may retard growth. A normal role that will bring value and benefit to the organization or business is real-time alignment of those subcultures to the main culture driving the organization. Clarity and focus is a normal part of this kind of work.
The leaders are generally the shapers and molders of the culture, and they engage to help during this process. Identifying and empowering those key leaders is helpful in advance in effort to have successful cultural assessment and change process. Learning what those leaders believe and what their operational assumptions are is helpful to bring about desired end results and assure executive leadership receives the help needed to have a competitive edge.
In order to truly maximize a culture it requires skill, time and commitment of the executive leaders all through the entire rank-and-file of the organization. It stands to reason that there are varieties of cultures in every organization. It is a mistake to try to categorically place an entity in a certain quadrant or try to box them in to one that the consultant may have had an earlier experience with. The point here is that each project is custom and requires incredible focus to ensure optimal reporting to the client. Failed cultural alignments happen when inexperienced practitioners attempt to qualify the culture or use bad assessment tools. Having an understanding of when to do what, and when to allow the client to engage is key to long-term impact.
Often during the evaluation process we discover areas that when identified, understood and changed have an impact to the bottom line. The impact may not be financially beneficial at first because we often expose gaps that may require resources to close. The idea of retaining a professional to facilitate a cultural improvement process is fundamentally valuable to those that work within that culture and greatly beneficial to the constituents or clients served by the entity.
It stands to reason that the personality of the organization or culture is their character. The sum total of the Attitudes, beliefs and commitments have much to do with the culture and the alignment.
The following excerpt from the book “The Corporate Culture Survival Guide” by Edgar H. Schein provides some mindsets needed as a resource to understand and implement a change process that includes a cultural assessment.
“The Bottom Line to Remember
• Culture can be assessed by means of individual and group interview processes, with group interviews being by far the better method in terms of both validity and efficiency. Such assessments can be usefully made in as little as half a day.
• Culture cannot be assessed by means of surveys or questionnaires because one does not know what to ask, cannot judge the reliability and validity of the responses, and may not want to influence the organization in unknown ways through the survey itself.
• Survey responses can be viewed as cultural artifacts and as reflections of the organization’s climate, but they are not a reliable indicator of the deeper shared tacit assumptions that are operating.
• A culture assessment is of little value unless it is tied to some organizational problem or issue. In other words, diagnosing a culture for its own sake is not only too vast a problem but also may be viewed as boring and useless. On the other hand, if the organization has a purpose, a new strategy, or a problem to be solved, then to determine how the culture impacts the issue is not only useful but in most cases necessary.
• Any issue should be related to the organization’s effectiveness and stated as concretely as possible. “The culture” as a whole is rarely an issue or problem, but cultural elements can either aid or hinder the solution to the problem.
• The assessment process should first identify cultural assumptions and then access them in terms of whether they are strengths or constraints on what the organization is trying to do. In most organizational change efforts, it is much easier to draw on the strengths of the culture than changing the culture.
• In any cultural assessment process, one should be sensitive to the presence of subcultures and prepared to do separate assessments of them to determine their relevance to what the organization is trying to do.
• Culture can be described and assessed at the levels of artifacts, espoused values, and shared tacit assumptions. The importance of getting to the assumption level derives from the insight that, unless you understand the shared tacit assumptions, you cannot explain the discrepancies that almost always surface between espoused values and observed behavioral artifacts.”