Kicking it Off With a Prayer and a Story!

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

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At key times during the culture and disruption initiative I’m leading, I’m going to share the strategy, tactics, pivots, etc. with our followers so we all might learn together. It will be authentic, messy and hopefully instructive. Please join us with the overall objective of inspiring a movement to create even greater workplaces and organization cultures. Everyone has the right to thrive in a great workplace. Each of us has an obligation to make it so.

The Challenge: How do you kick off a culture “boot camp” with 25 culture champions, and 25 supporting experts, in a way that sets a deep and strong foundation? Leading a cultural transformation takes courage. Once you open up the culture conversation with an entire institution, you can’t just stuff everything back in the box. So the folks attending the boot camp and leading the first phase of our culture initiative, a comprehensive cultural assessment, would really benefit from coming together as one connected team. The way they insert themselves as listening catalysts in the organization will establish their brand as culture champions. It will have a profound impact on how the organization perceives the culture work as meaningful and sustainable. So a lot of thought has to be put into how to begin.

What We Did About It: The college has an indigenous center which is an actual space on campus. One might view this center as the heart and soul of the organization. It is the essence and symbol of diversity, inclusion, courage and resilience that drives this institution. The college and indigenous center also has the good fortune of having Deloris Cardinal, a Cree elder, as part of the faculty, and she kicked us off with a smudge and prayer. In the spirit of indigenous tradition, Elder Deloris “started us off in a good way.”  It was a remarkable moment to become centered. We then moved to our boot camp working room where in one large circle, our marvellous colleague Maureen Parker, led a storytelling process. Each participant brought something that symbolizes a moment in their lives that required personal courage. Building off our beginning prayer, we came together in story. As each of us took the step of being vulnerable and brave in sharing personal story, you could see the group beginning to meld into “one.” It indeed was a very solid start of our investment in pouring this strong foundation. I believe this will give us the much needed platform strength to launch from. Stay tuned to hear how the rest of the boot camp goes and what we do next. Thanks for being part of our journey.

Think big, start small, act now.

– Lorne

One Millennial View: That certainly sounds like a compelling and cool way to kick start the culture conquest. I like the way the group has become one, and I’m eager to hear how the boot camp continues.

– Garrett

Blog 989

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Culture Boot Camp

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

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At key times during the culture and disruption initiative I’m leading, I’m going to share the strategy, tactics, pivots, etc. with our followers so we all might learn together. It will be authentic, messy and hopefully instructive. Please join us with the overall objective of inspiring a movement to create even greater workplaces and organization cultures. Everyone has the right to thrive in a great workplace. Each of us has an obligation to make it so.

The Challenge: How do you start a cultural transformation? It’s really important to engage a core group of people to help lead the process. In this case, we recruited a group of “Culture Champions” to represent the entire college. Now, what do you do with this group to make it meaningful? Culture can be a mushy idea and concept. And then, how do you choose what to focus on to leverage and accelerate the initiative?

What I’m Doing About It: We are taking the Culture Champions through a learning and planning boot camp for four full days, starting this week. We will challenge them to observe the characteristics of other organizations’ cultures, and introduce the underlying concepts in the 10 elements required for building extraordinary, adaptive cultures (see pic above). We will then conclude the workshop with a game plan to unleash the Culture Champions to do qualitative research by listening to all parts of the organization, using the 10 elements as a guide. They will be expected to bring their findings back to my Culture and Transformation team by the end of the summer. We will use this data to build our culture advancement plan. Then it’s a matter of making choices, focusing, executing and building off of momentum.

P.S. When they come back with their data, I will also engage them in a visioning process to establish a multi-sensual description of a desired future culture “end” state, including milestones along the way.

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now.

Lorne

One Millennial View: Please come back to us with some bootcamp highlights, and I’m certainly curious to see how it pans out over the summer. In the spirit of the season, hopefully it’ll make a splash like a water slide more so than a lazy river.

– Garrett

Blog 988

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Culture Journey Continues: Firing up a Signal Flare

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

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At key times during the culture and disruption initiative I’m leading, I’m going to share the strategy, tactics, pivots, etc. with our followers so we all might learn together. It will be authentic, messy and hopefully instructive. Please join us with the overall objective of inspiring a movement to create even greater workplaces and organization cultures. Everyone has the right to thrive in a great workplace. Each of us has an obligation to make it so.

Challenge: Cultural transformations, by their nature, are a long term play. Milestones are met in continuous, iterative ways over the years. Is there a way to send a quick flare or signal about what the evolving culture may look and feel like to get people excited about the journey? My team’s strategy is to engage the entire community in understanding the WHY, and co-creating the WHAT and HOW along the way, using my 10 elements of adaptive cultures as a guide. Once the organization starts building momentum, it becomes very gratifying to see the movement drive results almost on its own. However, I like to fire an early signal.

What I Did: As any new person usually does, I’ve spent the early weeks listening and watching. During conversations with people from various places in the organization, one frustrating process kept coming up. For one reason or another, people unanimously hated the process. For confidential reasons, I won’t say what it was. I have a very small team and by intention, the only way to really get stuff done is to partner. So I went to the leader of that process and asked her to consider changing it. With very thoughtful and swift action, SHE did. What courage! My understanding is that the response from the organization was overwhelmingly positive (someone even sent her flowers for taking the action). She and her team deserve all the credit and we collectively just sent up a flare! We are listening!  Sometimes it’s what you do that sends a signal, other times it’s what you stop!

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now.

Lorne

One Millennial View: I love the fact that I’ll likely never open up a Microsoft Word document ever again. I was just discussing with a friend how they were operating in Excel on a joint project with a co-worker and they had to copy and paste each other’s work into their individual spreadsheets because the organization didn’t use Google Sheets, which would allow both of them to work on the same spreadsheet simultaneously. If you want to pay your workers to spend the hours doing backwards busy work, that’s your choice, but it’s not the best path. Fire up that signal.

– Garrett

Blog 987

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Culture Journey Continues: 10x and Massive Action

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

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At key times during the culture and disruption initiative I’m leading, I’m going to share the strategy, tactics, pivots, etc. with our followers so we all might learn together. It will be authentic, messy and hopefully instructive. Please join us with the overall objective of inspiring a movement to create even greater workplaces and organization cultures. Everyone has the right to thrive in a great workplace. Each of us has an obligation to make it so.

The Challenge: How does one set the direction and desired outcome when driving a culture and transformation shift? My experience is that the bigger risk is to set the bar too low. It drives benchmarking and a 10 percent better mindset. That’s cool, but honestly, so what? Frankly, I hate being slightly better on “sameness.” That’s playing not to lose versus playing to win. When you ask yourself how we might be 10x greater, that’s when it becomes interesting, and hopefully both inspirational and aspirational. It’s a little tacky that my team gets to find out about my strategic intention and direction through my blog, yet I think they’re getting the idea, and I can see them becoming fired up to THINK BIG.

What I’m Going to Do:

  1. Share 10x thinking with my team, the culture champions (see last blog), executive leadership community, then the rest of the organization.
  2. Start to outline and declare what 10x aspiration goals look, feel, smell and taste like, including quantitative milestones.
  3. Begin to engage the entire community in determining and outlining the massive action required to achieve 10x performance. It cannot be business as usual, and it requires a open/growth mindset by all. Everyone, starting with me, has to change themselves first before the institution transforms. Often it will feel chaotic and frustrating. However, culture transformation is a systemic process. It may feel random depending on where one is standing. I assure you it’s not.  
  4. If we just do what all the other colleges do and slightly better, then pfft, who cares?

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now.

– Lorne

One Millennial View: “10x” transformations seem like a tall order, and I could see how the aspiration could seem daunting or perhaps impossible to some. To make it work, you need to be in the company of those willing to adapt and acquire the open/growth mindset necessary for 10x to actually become a reality. I look forward to hearing more about how it starts to progress.

– Garrett

Blog 986

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Want to Join Me on Our New Culture Journey?

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

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The Challenge: Lots of people can write about it, but few I know have the experience of architecting, executing, and building an extraordinary culture. I’ve been invited to be the Chief Culture and Transformation Officer at a postsecondary institution, and I’d like to take you along for the ride. This opportunity is unique for me. I’ve led culture transformation in technology, sports, telecommunications, banking and now postsecondary. This is a new sector for me, AND it gives me the ability to do something important by linking education to the rapidly changing world of work. Postsecondary education is going to be disrupted, and I would like to be part of that story in the best possible way.

I’m going to be very transparent and authentic during the ride, while avoiding information that is private and confidential to the college. And of course, this is totally my story and I will not refer to others without their permission. The objective is to share my learnings so that you might consider how to personally make it relevant to your situation.

The First Steps of Our Journey:

It is really important to get people at all levels involved in building the culture transformation plan. This involves establishing a definition, framework, and outline for what an extraordinary culture looks and feels like. It also includes conducting a culture assessment. So, we’re inviting all of the college to “audition” to become culture champions. We will select about 20, take them through a “culture boot camp,” and equip them with an assessment tool. They will then spread out through the college and listen to as many people as possible in a structured way. From there, we will build our execution plan. This first stage is to ignite and listen. We’ll see how this process works and keep you posted.

In parallel, we are facilitating a “purpose and values sprint” with the executive team, along with some other key folks. There is much solid work that’s already been done in this area to date and we’re building off of that progress. This outcome will be instrumental in guiding our culture execution and will connect with the recommendations of our culture champion team. Stay tuned and tag along.

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now.

Lorne

One Millennial View: I’m certainly interested to see how this pans out. I’d like to know what constitutes a “culture bootcamp,” and how the student body and faculty respond/perform. I look forward to hearing more as the journey continues.

– Garrett

Blog 985

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Culture Nervousness in the Boardroom

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

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The Challenge: Boards of directors are responsible for the long term success of organizations. They are legally accountable to act reasonably and prudently to ensure the strategy is effective for the greater good of all stakeholders. Of course, this includes the performance of the CEO. Now, more than ever, they are asking CEOs to outline their culture strategy. There is much angst about the ability to address competitive adaptability and protect brand reputation. Most board meetings dip into serious culture questions. For example: How are we managing advancements in technology? Why did our engagement and/or Glassdoor score go down? Why did so and so leave? What is our ability to learn and unlearn fast? What’s all this hullabaloo about psychological safety? Do we need to refresh our purpose/values?

Management is no longer just being asked to report on the expected financial and customer metrics. Directors are asking a lot of questions about how to measure culture, too. Frankly it’s a squishy, messy word for many. How do you define it? How do you measure it? And most importantly, what kind of gameplan can you execute to improve it?

Story: I’m co-writing a book about culture. The following is the first draft of a McKinsey & Co. inspired paragraph, we might use on the jacket of the book: 

“Three books sit on more executives’ bookshelves than any others: ‘In Search of Excellence’ (1982), ‘Built to Last’ (1994), and ‘Good to Great’ (2001). They turned their authors into management gurus, especially Tom Peters (‘In Search of Excellence’) and Jim Collins (the other two titles). After all the hoopla, McKinsey found that over the long run, most companies touted in these books struggled to outperform the S&P 500. Many have disappeared altogether. The conclusion: respect the trend, do everything you can to get ahead of it. Do not be arrogant or numb to the fact that even the greatest companies of their time couldn’t hold back the tide. Many were victims of their belief in being invincible.” So here’s the deal: No company can wait, rest on its laurels and be satisfied with its culture. Improve and transform or get left in the dust.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Many of our readers are executives, C-suite members and board members. If you are in this group, you need a culture framework and gameplan. 
  2. Your culture strategy should embrace adaptation, innovation, disruption and transformation. If it doesn’t, it is incomplete at best. 
  3. Wherever you are in the company, your everyday behavior and thinking combines with every other employee to define the true culture. What’s your company culture?

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now.

Lorne

One Millennial View: Furthermore, if Millennials find themselves in an organization that lacks a company culture that they can be proud of, they should constantly be on the lookout for a position in an organization with purpose and values that fit their expectations. What better incentive for c-suite members to improve culture if all their employees decide to work elsewhere?  

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis