Why Cultivate a “Change-Ready” Company Culture?
We want to have fun at work. And there’s a paradox — though stasis is not fun, we resist change and fall into habit.
The logistics of corporate change are often planned meticulously. No matter how complex a business, the mechanical variables of change execution can be identified, quantified, and scheduled. Planning every minute detail of the change, however, will backfire and clog up the actual change effort. It’d be better to leave some space in the plan, and have a nimble company culture of, “change readiness.”
What if your team was open to change, anticipating what change might be needed, eager for the adventure?
What makes change so difficult to plan, and especially to execute, is people. People can’t be effectively quantified. They don’t respond reliably and consistently to directives for change. They’re messy.
Just ask any New Year’s Resolution about messy. We asked the New Year’s Resolution, Lose-20-Pounds.
Lose-20-Pounds said, “The change plan was simple. 1) Eat this. 2) Don’t eat that. 3) Go to the gym four times per week — Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings at 7. That’s not complicated. I’m a simple plan. Every year, I’m the chosen resolution. Every year, they don’t make the change.”
Will power is only a small part of the equation. The bigger factor — the messier factor — is the fear of uncertainty.
If I go through this challenging ordeal, who’s to say it’ll even work? If I go through all this difficulty and do lose 20 pounds, who’s to say it won’t just come right back? Working out might hurt. Working out does hurt; maybe it won’t stop hurting. If I lose the weight and keep it off, what if I don’t feel any better? What if nobody notices? What if people still think of me as the heavy kid, even after I lose the weight?
And company cultures — unless deliberately engineered — reflect our internal human messieness.
Change at work is just as full of unanswered questions. And since work is our source of food, shelter, clothing, and communal belonging, the stakes and sense of danger in the unknown can be very high indeed.
And, as any dieter can tell you, those fears of uncertainty can be paralyzing.
One factor at a time, your company culture either adds to those fears and increases the paralysis or dismantles them and creates structures of agility.
A Strategic Fix
We work with clients to engineer a comprehensive operating-system of company culture that generates a sense of safety, of ownership, of adventure — a culture that accelerates progress, delivers performance, and gathers momentum.
When communicating and collaborating effectively in the context of a supportive community, we can face change with equanimity and courage. Our best emerges.
TEAMIFICATION – Your Company Culture Operating System
This is a system of 8 Principles installed into the fabric of your company in three half-day training sessions. This is a job for behavior shifting training because culture is behavior.
Session 1: Trust is an Action
We’re focused in this session on setting the stage for a “got your back” company culture.
Got your back, to us, means everyone is committed to each person’s TOTAL success.
The first 4 principles
1. Yay for failing: Acknowledge the magnitude of your goals and anticipate that you and your colleagues will fail along the way. That expectation empowers us to take the unexpected and the disappointing in stride, learn, adjust, proceed, and win. In this context, transparency, smart risk taking, and swift course correction are the norm. Fail fast. Fail forward. Failing is:
- Distinct from failure.
- Progressive and transitory.
- Evidence that your ambitions/goals can increase your capacity — individually or as a team.
2. Be Obvious: Intend to win the “Captain Obvious” award. Striving for originality makes work mediocre. Be purposeful, present, and transparent, and originality and innovation will inevitably emerge. Costly errors and oversights can be avoided in real-time by practicing “over-communication.”
- Observe to others what you’re noticing in detail (be specific).
- Report your concerns — even and especially if you think, “Maybe it’s just me” — in plain terms.
- Share your ideas. There’s no telling what tiny morsel may inspire someone else or shift their perspective in just the way they needed shifting.
- No hinting. Don’t be subtle.
- No elephants. Name the elephant in the room.
3. Get it. Give it: You cannot possibly have a relevant response to it until you’ve first taken it in (whatever “it” may be). Did you hear what your colleague said fully? Did you understand what your customer meant by what they said? Did you study the market conditions before investing in a new product line?
- Listen and question.
- With people, slow is fast.
- Observe and investigate.
- Fire bullets, then cannonballs (experiment small before you go big).
4. Yes, And: This is the most misunderstood and misused principle from improvisation. This is about panning for gold. Acknowledging in our own minds, and out loud, the validity of any perspective. Find the kernel of gold. “What I like about that is…” helps keep the collaboration moving. “I can see where you’re coming from,” affirms someone’s humanity. “And,” can elaborate, build upon, or sometimes redirect. “Yes, and” does not mean accepting and acting according to every idea. This insures you’ve got each others’ backs, and it makes uncertainty less frightening by giving you a structure proven to build bridges through the unknown. Yes And builds sense-of-self and confidence to feel safe in the face of risk.
- Keep the action moving
- Operationalize what “respect” looks like in your company culture
Session 2: Relationships With Purpose
We’re focused in this session on making strong-relationships even more effective at achieving purpose.
It’s never about the thing. It’s always about the relationship. At work, our relationships are centered on a shared purpose. And, even so, our brains are wired to receive all information in the context of the relationship. We can say, “it’s just business,” all we want. It doesn’t change the reality of our neurology.
Build up the relationship at every opportunity. Take nothing for granted. It’s in the context of relationships that we either feel constrained and fearful, or connected, supported, and courageous.
We can’t fight neurology, so we might as well work with it to achieve our common goals, crafting a company culture that embraces the realities of how the human mind works.
3 more principles
5. Everything is an Offer: The professional collaborator is alert to all the information flowing from other members of the team, from clients and customers, and from vendors, etc. The verbals and the non-verbals both carry mission-critical information. Words and silence both communicate. We tend to ignore (or at least pretend to ignore) the unspoken, to the peril of our effectiveness. All information is a gift to help serve our purpose.
- Be on the lookout.
- Listen hard.
- Ignore nothing.
- Listen to your gut, and investigate its signals.
- Test your assumptions.
- Bring the unspoken into the light.
6. Be Specific: Miscommunication and conflict often arise when people have different understandings of the same communication. This principle supports “Be Obvious.” Solve problems, accept change, withstand setbacks through detailed understanding.
- “Don’t communicate so you can be understood. Communicate so you can’t be misunderstood.” — Steve Sims
- The more specifics, the less uncertainty.
- And with less uncertainty, the more resilient in the face of uncertainty.
- Use “Yes, And” to spiral in on shared understanding.
7. Make your partner look good: Purpose is credit agnostic. Results don’t care who gets the credit. Trusting relationships and world-class collaboration are built on purpose focus.
- Rank is distinct from status.
- Elevate others’ status at every opportunity.
- A practice of support accelerates pace, performance, and smart risk taking.
- Trust accelerates success.
Session 3: Unstoppable Momentum
This session builds on the seven preceding principles with one more to give your team the unstoppable momentum to cruise over every speedbump in your way, so you never have to be stalled again.
Time, effort, and morale are all wasted when people get busy going nowhere, obstruct one another, or get frozen in inaction.
- This final principle breaks through those forces that stall projects, sales, profit, and all the other areas of your business where you crave momentum. This culminating principle insures a company culture of agility, speed, drive, and action.
The Final Principle
8. Move the action forward: With every moment comes the opportunity to move us closer as a team to the goal. Sometimes people hide from that opportunity, too scared to take a risk. Sometimes, we’re moving in the wrong direction, and a course-correction is needed. It’s sometimes necessary in that circumstance to slam on the brakes. The responsibility then arises for each member of the team to open up the next action for progress.
- Don’t pass the buck.
- Let nothing languish or fester.
- Set dates, or defer to the parking lot.
- Disagree and commit.
Principles are information — guiding concepts that can inform attitudes and behavior. (And your company culture is behavior. It’s the contagious patterns of behavior among your team members — a living, flexing garden of attitudes and actions.)
Just like the dieter with a New Year’s resolution above, however, information can’t dig us out of the fear-hole.
Neuroscience tells us that when the pressure’s on, we revert to habit and comfort. That’s why we train people to make effective communication and collaboration a habit. So when the pressure is on and fear rises, habit presents solutions instead of complicating the challenge.
Our TEAMIFICATION Training is not team building as you know it.
The most common complaints we hear about “training” and “team building include:
- It’s boring.
- People tune out.
- It doesn’t fit our circumstances.
- We get great information, and then just do what we’re used to.
With us it’s, “No ineffective, boring, powerpoint-lecturing yak-yak,” because yak-yak never changed company culture (or anything else for that matter).
- Experiential training
- Gets everyone on their feet, engaged, active, participating
- Includes and responds to the experiences and expertise of participants
- Creates shared experience and shared vocabulary, while working at the level of habit in order to change behavior.
Information is a part of the training. EXPERIENCE is the mainstay of TEAMIFICATION Training. Because experience changes behavior and shared experience and a common vernacular that reflects your values builds company culture by design.
Better than a ropes course. Fits in your office.