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Culture Change is a Complex Process

Make sense of it with actionable advice from experts on the front lines.

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A Culture Without Walls

We recently reached out to Chatbooks for an interview focused on storytelling, but talking deeper with their CMO, Rachel Hofstetter, we learned how amazing this brand really is. The values they operate by actively guide the way the company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment. Their values-based culture results in high employee involvement, strong internal communication and a healthy level of risk-taking which encourages new levels of innovation. If there’s any doubt about the value of investing time in culture, Chatbooks is an example of the significant benefits that come from a vibrant and alive culture.

Culture, like brand, is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely component of business that belongs to HR. It’s not intangible or fluffy, it’s not a vibe or the office décor. It’s one of the most important drivers that must be set, or adjusted, to attain long-term, sustainable success.

A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates.

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Organizational Artifacts And The Reshaping Of History

As Winston Churchill once proclaimed, “History is written by the victors.” While this sentiment may hold a bit less weight in today’s society where even the “losers” can shape the collective narrative with the help of things like the internet, the “winners” do tend to hold quite a bit of power over shaping how future generations interpret the events of the past.

One way to shape peoples’ interpretation of the past is to remove and replace the physical artifacts of a people. The statues, monuments, images, the schoolbooks and stories that do not align with the version of history that you wish to promote. Read More…

The Leader As Coach: Building On Contact And Connection

Leaders serve in many roles.  Yes, they must do the mundane but necessary chores of managing assets and balance sheets, but their most important work is to inspire others.  And that involves the leader serving as a teacher, as a mentor, and as a coach.

Often we know how to teach others.   And we routinely provide mentoring by setting an example and being available to nurture those around us.  In my experience in industry, though, I have found the coaching piece to be the most difficult role for leaders to assume.

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Weathering An Organizational Storm

$16-billion dollar weather disasters have affected the US this year, from January – October. And the year isn’t over. We all knew someone, or personally experienced these events – from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to the more recent wildfires in California. These traumatic events have taken a physical and emotional toll on many.

Living in Florida, hurricane season is one we plan for and anticipate every year. But always with a wait and see mentality. This year may be quiet, with little impact to our homes, or it may be the year where we experience the storm of the century. Having just watched the unexpected impact of hurricane Harvey to our neighbors across the Gulf, here in Florida, we watched the path of hurricane Irma with great anxiety. In the days before hurricane Irma was scheduled to make landfall, Governor Scott called for a State of Emergency. The skies were blue, social and professional events went on as scheduled, but the environment was charged. Water became scarce in the stores. Group chats permeated social media. We all accessed the local news channels and apps with more frequency as we sought the most up-to-date information on the direction of the storm, and the potential impact to different regions of the state of Florida. Who would be impacted, how badly, and when? Read More…

3 Ways To Help Fix A Broken Company Culture

I once worked with a CEO of a successful startup. His company had been experiencing growing pains and customer-service mishaps that led to a decline in performance. During a leadership meeting designed to review recent irregular operations, he raised his hand and took ownership of the problem with a blunt assessment.

“The fish stinks at the head,” he said.

In other words, the organizational issues stemmed from leadership errors. These mistakes at the top of an organization can easily trickle down to create cultural issues throughout the team.

Companies undergo cultural assessments for a variety of reasons—and they’re not always because things have gone awry. A company might have a great culture that it wants to preserve during a growth phase. Or it might want to evolve the company’s culture to keep pace with a leadership change, market shift or relocation.

Other times, companies need to know why something unexpected has happened. Leaders might be trying to address increased turnover, decreased market share, a drop in productivity or something as major as ethical violations. Unfortunately, leaders don’t always understand what the aforementioned CEO identified: Organizational issues often go much deeper than culture. Read More…

The Quiet Price of Entrepreneurship

Read a selection of articles in most business publications and you will, undoubtedly, find more than a handful that explicitly or implicitly refer to entrepreneurs as stalwart heroes in some form or fashion. While there may be some level of “courage” (comfort with risk, ability to thrive in nebulous situations, ability to envision a future state that others can not, etc.) the overwhelming amount of content of this nature continues to reinforce a myth about entrepreneurs as mighty warriors who don’t blink in the face of danger. Adding further to this cycle, especially here in America, is our national culture of showcasing success and of loving a good underdog story.

Unfortunately, showcasing successful underdog entrepreneurs who have “made it” doesn’t really tell the full story. For every success there are multiple examples of failure- each one leaving indelible scars on those involved. For some, these failures may serve as the inspiration to try and try again while, for others, it may result in wounds that become insurmountable. Furthermore, even the entrepreneurs who do make it, in most cases, do so at the expense of many things in their lives, each adding stresses to them as individuals that are difficult to measure. Read More…

Why Articulating A Clear Vision Is Critical For Entrepreneurs?

A few years ago I used a phone app, called Shapr, to expand my social circles, to make new connections, learn new things and enjoy a conversation or two. I met aspiring artists and entrepreneurs who were looking to start a business or were already working on one. They shared their stories and inquired into pro-bono consulting to help them with building their ventures.

In many instances my initial question was, “Where do you want to go with this idea and what are you creating?” Oftentimes, my Shapr’s friends could not clearly respond and this, initially, left me somewhat confused. If I was confused from the start, how would their customers (or potential customers) react?

Compelling vision and mission statements have the ability to provide clarity and direction with regard to why a business exists, what purpose it serves and what value it brings to its stakeholders. Not being able to clearly articulate this can obviously make it difficult to get people on board with your ideas.  Read More…

Maintaining Corporate Culture In The E-World

The quantification of the benefits that corporations can enjoy over their completion (as much as a 20 to 30% gain over other companies, according to James L. Heskett) came about in the 1980’s. Since then corporate culture has been an area of focus for top executives for obvious reasons.

Facebook, Twitter and the like were originally viewed as millennial playthings, especially by senior executives. However, many companies have come to the realization that they are a way of building and maintaining corporate culture.

They are the digital analogue of offices, meeting rooms, letterhead and all the other myriad ways that companies communicate their culture and values in the physical world. Read More…

Innovation, Tradition, And Striking The Balance

My son turns eleven today. We are all set to celebrate as we always do – our kids love the traditions that come with birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, college football, and too many other events to mention. The house is decorated exactly the same for every birthday. I’m told they love it that way. There will be a special dinner, as always.

All this tradition and consistency got me thinking. My children certainly love new things and surprises: new adventures, trips to unknown places, crazy experiences. And still, for a handful of personal milestones, they seem to want- to need- something familiar and dependable. Certainly, that is to be expected. New experiences bring excitement, anticipation of something unknown, and the possibility of “total awesomeness” (which, I have to imagine, is what the kids are saying nowadays.) Those traditions, the patterns sought out by their own brains, bring them a sense of stability, safety, and comfort. See my recent innovation webinar for more on this. Read More…

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