September 6, 2011

Culture Evolution: Are We There Yet?

It's been a while since I last posted about our culture evolution journey. Vacation got in the way! You know these kinds of projects are no walk in the park. I want to take the opportunity to discuss a few things you may want to be aware of about embarking on that journey.

It Will Take Longer Than You Think

Evolving a culture takes time. It's more than coming up with the words. The approach we are taking here is one where my entire crew's brainpower is working towards it. If I had done it alone I would be done by now - but then I don't think my team would be engaged. To get people involved means more meetings and with meetings you quickly get into meetings coordination. With the summer this is even worse. At another level, getting people involved means getting them to see why their input is important. I'm lucky here at Macadamian because people are engaged to start with. Still though, I often run into "Well we're already doing it", or "I'm doing my best already" and "We're already doing well, why would we change that Fred?"

In a perfect world this would be a frictionless process, but the reality is getting people to look in the same direction takes time. When starting the process, recognizing this is step #1 is living this change in the best way possible. 

Energy is Good

During the dialog and meetings on our results, we often found ourselves in a position where we thought we needed to defend what we were presenting. It took us a few tries to realize that what we're looking for in this process is engagement and not buy in.  Feedback good or bad is energy and energy is a sign that someone is engaged and ultimately it's a very good thing. Once we got that one, it made our lives as ambassadors much easier and made our meetings easier because there was not so much pressure on ourselves to seal the deal.

So I want to emphasize that in this process we need to be looking for people's engagement and the energy put towards their feedback is what matters most. Then as ambassadors we can go and dig into the feelings and needs expressed by the participants.

Remember the Importance of What You're Playing With

The mission is why the organization is around. The vision is where the organization is aiming. Culture and Values are at the centre of an organization. They are how our organization does everything it has to do to bring in the results it's after.  The culture of an organization and its brand are the two sides of the same coin.

It's just that important, period; this is the DNA of the organisation.  In the process, put time aside to get the team to internalize that fact and do it again.  It's so much more than putting your values on the web site for potential employes to browse. Values are the basis of any and all results in your execution.

When Is It Over?

Over my dead body is now my answer. I started this thinking. I could put this behind me at some point but it is not the way to be successful with the process. I'm not saying the values will change all the time. We do have a great culture already at Macadamian. We've been growing like weeds; our ways to help the new employees to embark on the values didn't scale.

I believe now that culture is something that needs constant and continuous nurturing. A successful organization constantly looks at how it's applying its values and broadcasts the stories. 


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