We all want to believe our organization’s desired purpose matches what we’re actually achieving. But…is that the case? Join me as I share a simple activity I learned from my mentors and friends, Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera. The Cabreras describe the activity of recasting your organizational purpose to gain insights into where systems changes are warranted within your organization in their book, FLOCK NOT CLOCK: DESIGN, ALIGN, and LEAD to ACHIEVE YOUR VISION.
Central Susquehanna Opportunities, Inc., (CSO) recently crafted a new Vision-Mission. They were seeking ways to ensure staff readiness to begin their new organizational journey and kick off an effort to build a new customer service mindset.
They recognized that in order to become a transformative organization, they needed to go outside the box, rethink professional development and training and dive deeply into how organizational culture is built. They started by getting to know themselves and others. Using the Talent Insights, Behaviors & Driving Forces assessments and MYNDDSET Group Seminars, each member of the team gained an awareness of their natural behaviors, adaptive behaviors and the attitudes that lead to their behaviors. Across their 70 member team, they have a common language to discuss interpersonal and team relationships. During the seminar, they practiced interacting with others who’s natural behavior is different than their own. By learning how to interact with others with an understanding of their needs, they developed a new level of empathy for their fellow coworkers.
Thank you to Christine Hornberger for sharing her thoughts on the value of this experience. I look forward to witnessing their continued transformation. Congratulations CSO.
Want to transform your organization? Contact Mark, email@example.com. MYNDDSET provides organizational development services, assessments, and training programs to help you MAP, ADVANCE and TRANSFORM your organization.
In this MYNDDCAST Moment, I discuss how blends of organizational culture and environment attract different customers. I share a story of how a lakeside resort shifted its customer base over time by not protecting culture and building environment. But, does the blend of culture and environment just impact customers? What about staff? Thanks for listening.
Do these 3 things to bring about a multitude of desired behaviors and their benefits to your organization. Many desired behaviors are emergent behaviors. This means we spend too many resources in a narrow lane seeking their improvement. Rather, we can (and must) look to core behaviors and skills that will bring about our desired behaviors. If you desire increased team creativity, collaboration or contribution, or if you seek specific improvements such as Increased Quality in Customer Service, High Impact Meetings or Increased Utilization of Time , are you focused on the proper human and organizational development?
“I’m struggling to find the motivation to go to work in the morning. I get a knot it my stomach as I get closer to the office. At the end of the day, I want to hide. I’m not enjoying my career and I always thought this was my passion.”
Two powerful words voiced by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and heard most mornings on NPR segments they support. Living in Central PA as an entrepreneur, but working outside those boundaries, I feel the powerful tug of war between common and uncommon.
Products & Services: Being an entrepreneur in small town USA can mean hanging a shingle promoting your efforts to bring the common to the community. We all know the common things. They are the services and products that a large population of humans seek or need frequently. The uncommon can feel risky, NEW and strange. Should I open that Art & Team Bar in a culture of drive-through coffee drinkers? Be too uncommon and the entrepreneur can feel the sting of common mindsets. See, that’s the point about being uncommon. It makes us, the consumers, reevaluate our needs and think deeper about what can benefit us. Is the same old, same old good? Bad? Just meh? When entrepreneurs kick us out of our comfort zones and into a new mindset….we all win. The uncommon wins!
Approaches & Tactics: Common extends into organizational structures and cultures as well. That old, dusty Vision Statement hanging on the wall is common. It’s ignored, but common. Having our Monday morning meetings, common. Ineffective, but common. Teams of people attempting to work together with little to no effort put into understanding ourselves, each other or how our unique blend of attitudes and behaviors impact organizational performance. That’s common. Not great, common. Bad actually. But common. Just like the convenience and comfort of hitting that drive through for a cup-o-joe, we get caught in a drive through mindset of work culture. “It’s not healthy, but it’s quick and we KNOW how to do it.” Pretty soon, we’re ordering an extra this or that in cultural terms. One day, we add a side of team in-fighting, or how about a crushed spirit or two? No harm no fowl. We were in line and while we’re here, why not. The common. We all know what the common drive through routine results in. Unhealthiness. So yes, the common Approaches & Tactics for organizations result in the same.
Developing an organizational mindset equipped for our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world can become common, but for now, it is uncommon…and lovely…….and needed.
If you didn’t click through to the article on the Kauffman website listed above, here is a powerful quote:
“You should not choose to be a common company. It’s your right to be uncommon if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take the calculated risk, to dream, to build, yes, even to fail, and to succeed.”
— Ewing Marion Kauffman
This is my challenge to every organization, be uncommon. Craft a Vision that is INSPIRING. Build a Mission that is worth doing repeatedly by the HUMANS who have joined you. Get to know your fellow teammates beyond ritualistic hellos and goodbyes and thank yous and awkward high fives. Be committed to being uncommon for those you serve because they NEED you to be uncommon, but may have no idea what that looks like. That’s your job. That’s OUR job.
Want to be uncommon, and awesome. Connect with me to bring MYNDDSET services to your organization. Together, we’ll MAP, ADVANCE and TRANSFORM your culture. We’ll be UNCOMMON together.
What drives you? How do you describe your attitudes and prominent behaviors? Are you capable of understanding others, working with those with drivers different from yours? Are you a learner? Can you describe how you think, build ideas and solve problems?
If your response to any of these questions is, “Uhhmmmm…..”, then I have some advice. Invest time in discovering those answers BEFORE joining your organizational visioning work. Harsh? Not at all. Kind. I’m hitting to your backhand here. I learned this by being a tennis player. My friend and doubles partner wasn’t helping me by constantly hitting to my strong forehand. They helped me grow by hitting to my backhand. That’s what friends are for.
Vision work within an organization presents an incredible opportunity to strengthen and grow. This translates into professional and personal benefits for staff and stakeholders as well. New lines of business may be part of the visioning and those bring new customers, new LIFE to an organization.
On the flip side, re-visioning an organization can feel threatening to some. Depending on organizational structure, concern around change and negative impact can be detrimental to the effort. That push-back however is a choice, one driven by ego and a lack of understanding of oneself and others. To the extreme, some can view organizational vision work as a life-and-death struggle. They will do everything they can to keep their position of influence, their jobs and their security.
“It’s difficult to have fun or to achieve concentration when your ego is engaged in what it thinks is a life-and-death struggle.”
These ego-driven struggles are the result of not knowing yourself to the degree needed to take part in organizational development AT THIS TIME. I would NEVER suggest someone could NEVER take part in this work. But, there are those who are not ready at given times. How do you figure out where you stand?
#1 Get help! For years, I’ve helped organizations and teams build vision and conduct mission-driven work. I’ve learned that the struggles they experienced were almost 100% related to team members not knowing themselves and others. That’s why I launched my new line of assessments to help organizations provide a resource for staff. If you or your organization needs help, let me know. Spending just a few minutes to complete an assessment is an incredible professional development opportunity.
#2 Separate Personal from Organization Granted, attaining an “Organization Over Self” mindset can be life-changing and hard. But, it will allow your energies to become part of something larger than what you can accomplish on your own. Being part of an organization is not about getting YOUR way and forcing others to follow. It’s about joining forces with others to do something BIG, something BOLD, something meaningful beyond you.
#3 Trust the System Organizational vision work that is based on Systems Thinking is critical to building a meaningful vision. Systems Thinking is PERSPECTIVAL which means it is inclusive of taking many points of view and seeing things through different lenses. But, it is not about compromises. Compromising a vision means the vision is the result of everyone losing something and giving in to individual needs. To trust the system of building a new vision, check your ego at the door and become part of the process. Learn, be open and participate.
All three of these points are based on knowing yourself and others. Of course, admitting you don’t know yourself requires a certain amount of knowing yourself. So to start, just ask yourself the questions in the opening paragraph and plot a course of action. Begin with #1 above. When you do, you’ll become part of an amazing vision experience for your organization that will change your work and life.
There was a rather awful experiment in the 1950’s performed by Curt Richter using domesticated rats. The rats were placed in a container of water. They began swimming. The time it took them to drown was recorded. The experiment was repeated but the rats were removed from the water just before they went under. They were dried off and allowed to rest. Then, they were returned to the water. This group swam for hours and hours. Much longer than the group that drowned. The difference? Hope.
Most of us would agree, the power of HOPE is an incredible force. It keeps us alive when many things fail. Hope can be a beacon of light, a source of strength. For the rats in the second group, it provided survival. Survival, by most definitions is a great thing. But, it can also derail organizational thinking, kill vision-mission work and devalue strategy.
Organizations with a legacy are particularly susceptible to counting on hope to survive and lead them into the next fiscal year. Over time, they build a list of strong “hopeful happenings” they begin to look forward to. For example, a non-profit that ends its year with a few thousand dollars in its account feels hope. That happening, ending with a little bit of cash, is like being taken out of the water for a rest. The organization gets removed from the struggles of swimming in their work. That swimming becomes drowning over time. But, just before they go under, they get removed, dried off to rest. The horrible feeling of ALMOST drowning fades a bit as they rest. The struggles seem distant now and start to feel oddly comfortable. A mindset of “well, at least we know what to expect” creeps into the team. To compound that, other “hopeful happenings” pile on. A congratulatory handshake from a board member on staying afloat, a business cycle shift and relaxed pace, a repeat donor donation. Hope builds, but sameness, survival occurs. But, remember, that sameness means at a point in the near future, everyone will return to the water, start swimming and start to drown again.
Hope is so powerful, it can blind an organization to the power of thinking. An organization that commits to thinking can craft an incredible Vision-Mission and build the systems and capacities to support that Vision-Mission. As part of that work, they can also build strategic thinking skills among stakeholders. That work however can get sidestepped for the work to remain afloat, to depend on Hope, to survive. Hope is comfortable. Scary, but comfortable. Thinking differently, change, is scary, unknown, not comfortable for many.
What can we do?
Know your organizational “hopeful happenings”, expose them for what they are and ensure everyone understands they are a drug with side effects.
Stay close to those who show a strong connection to those “hopeful happenings” and are willing to recruit others to follow them. Work with them. If they can’t join, figure out an exit plan for them.
Keep reminding everyone that hope will return you to a state of “almost drowning” and that will be, as expected, incredibly difficult, stressful, and detrimental to everyone.
Make a distinction between a state of hope and your Vision-Mission, a future state that is special, meaningful, fulfilling and powerful.
Celebrate moments when “hopeful happenings” have been eradicated. When you end the fiscal year with more than just a bit of cash, when your business cycles don’t negatively change as they once did, when you don’t have high staff turn over year over year. Don’t let those changes go unnoticed. Those changes didn’t come about from hope, they were possible because of THINKING.
Don’t build new “hopeful happenings.” Be diligent and continually aware of how hope can creep back into your organization. Create events to spend time measuring how well you’re doing and assign roles to purposely be on the lookout.
This is a big moment. If you’ve been swimming for survival in your organization, you’re out of the water for a bit drying off and resting. You have a choice. Hope will throw you back in, or you can commit to THINKING and changing.