Tag Archives: organizational culture

5 Friday Faves – Best Of’s – Building a Great Organizational Culture, Naming Our Grief, Habits of Mentally Strong People, Book of Opposites, and the Story of God for Postmoderns

[Not much time this week for discovering or writing – here are some of my favorite faves, going  back a ways.]

1) Building a Great Organizational Culture – a Podcast – 5 Leadership Questions about Building a Great Organizational Culture – This is a great conversation between Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger on organizational culture. They define culture as “shared values beneath the surface that drive behavior”. Aspirational values (what takes place on the wall) are distinguished from actual values (what takes place in the hall). What is your workplace culture? “We don’t treat people like that here”. Like what? What culture do you have or hope to build?Blog - Organizational Culture - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

Also see Organizational Culture and Climate – SlideShare.

2) Naming our Grief – Grief always has a name and naming our grief helps us to heal. Having lived overseas for many years, we understand “Hellos-Goodbyes-Hellos” – both the sorrows and the joys of them. As the years go by, we experience job changes, relocations of friends and family, and deaths of loved ones. This November will be the 17th anniversary of my Mom’s Homegoing, and every day I still think of her. That grief definitely has a name. Sometimes grief feels more vague, like a sadness with a cloudy source.

When I found this piece Because Grief Has a Name by Abby Alleman, it touched my heart. She says it well:

“Naming grief is our heart acknowledging its significance and place in our lives. In this way, grief is a friend, like Sadness from the movie Inside Out. Photo Credit: Aepadillablog

It teaches us the shape of our own unique story and guides us to tastes of the ‘fullness of joy’ found in God’s presence. Acknowledging and entering grief also guards our hearts from the calcifying effects of the denial of pain, hurt or loss. Instead of resentment, bitterness or hatred, we get healing, strength and hope. We also become those who grieve well with others. This is a true gift.” – Abby Alleman

3) Critical Habits of Mentally Strong People Travis Bradberry published a super helpful article on mental toughness. He lists 15 critical habits of mentally strong people. Take a minute to go to this article for some quick, clear counsel on building up your mental muscle. – not just for work, also for anything where mental toughness (not hardness) would help.Blog - Friday Faves - Habits of Mentally Strong People - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

4) Book of Opposites Jennifer Kahnweiler has written a fascinating book on Introversion-Extroversion. The Genius of Opposites: How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together. My  husband is a  introvert  and I am an extrovert. We have been married 35 years and have worked together many of those years. We have learned a lot of Kahnweiler’s wisdom on our own…and after quite a few years of struggle. This book is very helpful and empowering for any partnership between introverts and extroverts.

Blog - Friday Faves - Genius of Opposites

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Skip Pritchard wrote a great review here.Genius-card-front-1Photo Credit: SkipPritchard.com

5) The Story of God for Postmoderns – How would you answer the question, “What is the Bible all about?” If you were to prepare an answer of this question for a Post-modern, you might be disappointed. A true post-modern is probably not going to ask you that question. However, what if our friends could get hold of the idea that the Bible is not just a grand story that Christians have concocted? The Bible, in truth, is a winsomely unified story God actually tells about Himself from the first page to the last. Dr. David Teague, in the article, The Biblical Metanarrative, lays out the clearest explanation I’ve ever read of the Story of God – of how the Bible is God’s own revelation of Himself to His people. Don’t miss this gem.Blog - Friday faves - Peanuts & Postmoderns

Photo Credit: Peanuts, ParkingSpace23.com

Bonus: Phenomenal Classical Guitarist – This guy. Nathan Mills – related to us? Nathan at guitarPhoto Credit: Duy Nguyen

Yes. I get to be Mom to this amazing young man… Because we are related and it’s not always comfortable for him how effusive I am about his music…I restrain myself. Unsuccessfully. Right now, he’s fairly new to that larger world of music, but he’s playing, teaching, arranging, and composing. One day, you will know him if you don’t already… Mark it down.

A video from his early days with Nathan Mills Guitar:

…and his latest arrangement (June 2019) on his Beyond the Guitar YouTube channel:

 

Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Adaptability – The Very Human Side of These Business Processes

Blog - Effectiveness vs. Efficiency

Photo Credit: digital-knowledge.nl.dikn/en

I will never forget when an elder statesman in an organization (both dear to me) was “let go”, so to speak, because of a need for more “bang for the buck”. The expression was so toxic then and still carries a deep pain. It speaks to the tension between efficiency and effectiveness, and the pressing need for adaptability as our world rapidly changes. At the same time, we have to remember, in almost all situations, it’s people in the mix of these business processes.

Efficiency is a good thing. However, it must be secondary to effectiveness. Effectiveness is primary always. How best to assure both is to build an organizational culture of adaptability.

Tom Coyne has defined effectiveness, efficiency, and adaptability brilliantly in a published 2-page pdf*. Here they are:

“Effectiveness measures the extent to which the results you have achieved match your goals.” Strategy leaders set those goals, and the goals determine who does the work, when, where, and how.

“Efficiency measures the amount of scarce resources used to obtain the results achieved.” His use of the term “scarce resources” is thought-provoking. When we focus on efficiency – getting the most benefit from the least resources – we can lose our objective. Resources are precious. Full-stop. Whether they are people, time, or finances. We must consider how we spend resources always, and especially when they are scarce.  However, if we miss the mark on our objective because we misspent our resources or allocated them unwisely, then we paid for efficiency with effectiveness. A poor transaction.

Gen. McChrystal, speaks to this, in his book Team of Teams (more about this book follows). He puts a captivating twist on it in his challenge: “If I told you that you weren’t going home until we win—what would you do differently?” We can’t focus primarily on efficiency when effectiveness is the outcome we desire. Adaptability is really what will get us to where we want to go.

Adaptability measures the change in Effectiveness and Efficiency for a given level of change in the agent or organization’s environment…One of our great failings as human beings is our reluctance to acknowledge the full implications of living in a world of complex adaptive systems. The causes of yesterday’s success are impossible to fully understand, and unlikely to be replicable to the same extent in the futureWe naturally try to succeed again in the future, using the approach that worked in the past, with frequently disappointing and occasionally fatal results.”

Coyne goes on to write about how to work these processes out toward business and employee/team success in a changing world.

Good stuff to know and implement.

Early on in my career, one of the mantras I heard repeatedly was this:

“The three most important things to learn in your work is flexibility…flexibility…flexibility.”

That later changed, in company vernacular, to “fluidity” x 3. The only problem was the temptation to decide for myself what was fluidity/flexibility and what was not. This is where silos and self-interest evolve when we’re not even aware, until we find ourselves not being successful (effective/efficient). In the very work we’ve immersed ourselves in for years…working hard, but not working as smart as we could have. [I know, that hurts – and it will take more than efficiency gurus to bring us out of such a predicament healthy.]

It is possible to turn the ship around…and it takes a whole crew.

Decentralized, empowered teams. Trust. Transparency and collaboration in decision-making. Broad information-sharing. Ownership in real time not just in philosophy. Bringing down silos and working together to nurture an organizational culture where we expect change and thrive in it.

What focus yields a win-win in our workplace? Both from the human side and the business side of performance and organizational culture. What can we do to enhance our business processes – whether we are in management or on the frontlines of our organization?

The following quotes should help to stir thinking. They are out of the book Team of Teams by retired U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal, currently with The McChrystal Group.

“In complex environments, resilience often spells success, while even the most brilliantly engineered fixed solutions are often insufficient or counterproductive.”  – Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams

“In place of maps, whiteboards began to appear in our headquarters. Soon they were everywhere. Standing around them, markers in hand, we thought out loud, diagramming what we knew, what we suspected, and what we did not know. We covered the bright white surfaces with multicolored words and drawings, erased, and then covered again. We did not draw static geographic features; we drew mutable relationships—the connections between things rather than the things themselves.” – Gen. McChrystal, Team of Teams

[Sidebar: I had the great pleasure of writing for such a team over the last 3 years. It was a privilege to see that level of creativity and collaboration, in a team of equals, birthing a workplace initiative in sync with a changing world. Amazing experience.]

“Specifically, we restructured our force from the ground up on principles of extremely transparent information sharing (what we call “shared consciousness”) and decentralized decision-making authority (“empowered execution”).” – Gen. McChrystal, Team of Teams

“In a resilience paradigm, managers accept the reality that they will inevitably confront unpredicted threats; rather than erecting strong, specialized defenses, they create systems that aim to roll with the punches, or even benefit from them. Resilient systems are those that can encounter unforeseen threats and, when necessary, put themselves back together again.”  – Gen. McChrystal, Team of Teams

View your leadership as being less about giving top-down orders and more about cultivating those who follow you, empowering them to make the right decisions. Many leaders are tempted to lead like a chess master, striving to control every move, when they should be leading like gardeners, creating and maintaining a viable ecosystem in which the organization operates.This is especially applicable to private sector leaders; the world is moving too quickly for those at the top to master every detail and make every decision. Empowering, cultivating, and ultimately serving those who follow you will unlock massive potential within your organization, allowing you to solve for problems in real time.” – Gen. McChrystal, Forbes.com

*Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Adaptability – The Three Keys to Performance Measurement

Effectiveness Before Efficiency

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

The Power of Business Process Improvement: 10 Simple Steps to Increase Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Adaptability by Susan Page

GoodReads Team of Teams Quotes

Stanley McChrystal: What The Army Can Teach You About Leadership

Gen. Stanley McChrystal: Adapt to Win in the 21st Century

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal

Blog - Efficiency and Adaptability - General McChrystalPhoto Credit: Forbes.com

Organizational Culture – 5 Questions – Notes on a Podcast with Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger

Blog - 5 Leadership Questions - Organizational CultureMy latest favorite podcast (one of my 5 Friday Faves last week) was this conversation between Barnabas Piper (co-host), Eric Geiger, and Todd Adkins (co-host). On Lifeway’s 5 Leadership Questions, they tackled the topic of creating a healthy organizational culture.

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2015-05-18 23:11:32Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.comBlog - eric Geiger - 5 Leadership QuestionsBlog - Todd Adkins - 5 Leadership Questions

In the podcast, they ask and answer 5 questions about organizational culture. I took notes. Listen to the podcast if you can, but if you don’t, read on. These guys have captured something we all need to consider in thinking about our workplaces and have our values speak to how healthy we are…or are not.

1) What is an organizational culture? – Culture is defined as those values or beliefs that undergird who we are and what we’re about in our organization. Culture is “everything beneath the surface that drives behavior”. Whether we are in tune to our work culture or not, we share values as a group and those values drive our behavior. There are two types of values within a culture – aspirational and actual. Aspirational values – what’s on the wall. Actual values – what takes place in the hall. Values are so embedded in culture that we take them for granted. They include philosophies and strategies and can be both good and bad for the health of our organization. What is the personality of your organization?  Psychologist Alfred Adler wrote, in 1920s, that to be healthy, three things need to be in alignment: 1) how you perceive yourself, 2) how others perceive you, and 3) how you want to be perceived. Apply that to your organization: does who you say you are match with who you actually are? This will give you a diagnosis of how healthy your organization is…if you’re willing to take a hard, honest look. How did you get the culture you have?Piper, Adkins, and Geiger then talked about how the leader of an organization will shape culture. Leaders shape culture and after three years, it will be the culture they have shaped.  If leaders don’t intentionally shape the culture, it will evolve on its own [somewhat in reaction to that leader – my take on that].

2) What are the consequences if you don’t build and shape a culture (if you let it passively happen)? “If you don’t actively cultivate the culture, whoever has the loudest voice or the clearest vision wins.” There is formal and informal authority as well as formal and informal influence with impact on an organization’s culture.  The informal influence/authority of a long-time trusted employee is important and should be respected. Culture, healthy or unhealthy, can “trump” a new leader’s ideas or strategy. “A healthy culture won’t tolerate an unwise move or won’t tolerate someone being treated inappropriately. A healthy staff culture will call people out – “We don’t talk to people that way here/we don’t treat people that way here. That’s sacred for us here.” Wise leaders will give the culture its voice as new, healthier culture is built.

3) What is the starting point for a leader to create culture? 1) Assess the culture of your organization. “It’s a mistake to say everything is broken, ruined, messed-up in this culture and we need to rebuild a whole new culture. You’re wrong. There are things that are affirmable in that culture.” [Eric Geiger on not loathing the culture you lead]  2) Find what is affirmable in your culture and affirm them. 3) Then deal with what is not present that needs to be. “For every 2 actual values, you can have one aspirational value.” If you are a new leader of an organization, resist the temptation to shake it down entirely and rebuild the culture reflecting your values. “Actual values are the foundation upon which you build culture. Affirm over and over. Then work to implement [that other value that’s only present in aspiration form].”

Blog - Organizational CUlture - Lencioni book Silos, Politics & Turf Wars

Everybody needs to read Lencioni’s Politics, Silos, Turf Wars. “What is Bucket 1? – core DNA – values we do not change. Don’t even ask. Bucket 2? – Maybe. Wasn’t our Core DNA but goes against what we want. Bucket 3? – Do whatever you want.” The core values of a culture are those that are bedrock for your organization to continue. “Ask what of your culture is not going to change. When those things come up, address them immediately. What is counter-culture? Kill them. [Examine] what we pay attention to; how we react to crisis; the role models that we raise up; the stories we tell; the heroes we create.” Plato once said: “What is celebrated is cultivated.”  You are able to influence culture by telling new stories. What does your culture celebrate? What do you see that kills culture?

4) What are culture-killers in an organization that need to be abolished? What are signs of culture that needs to be celebrated? What are the culture killers not to be tolerated?A culture-killer would be the continued allowance of violative behavior of those values. If among a staff team the cultural value is we treat each other with respect; we’re a family; we do ministry together – and you have a lone ranger who gets promoted?…that’s a culture-killer.” Anything that violates the organization’s culture is a no-go. Disrespect. Passive-Aggressive behavior. Lying. You can’t tolerate such things. Then what in culture should be celebrated? As team members exhibit organizational values in their work and demeanor, you hold them up for everyone to celebrate. “Point out and celebrate when your culture’s values are fleshed out. Give a story; mention the value; celebrate a specific value of the organization lived out; from each campus/department. Remind each other that all these things are going on in different places/departments and the impact we’re having together.”

5) What does it look like to hire and fire strategically to create the kind of culture an organization needs. People create culture.  1) Hire on the values. Look for displayed commitment to the values before the person is on the team. You ask questions. Look for history. You see if they have to sacrifice something to be on your team. Do they have to become someone they’re not to be a part of the team? 2) Removing people – a strong culture is going to make it very uncomfortable for someone to stay who doesn’t have the same values. They will self-select out of a culture not like them. They’re saying, “This isn’t really me.” The organization says, “Here’s who we are.” “If they’re not going to help the culture stay healthy, you don’t want them on that team. You want them to be a fish out of water if this isn’t the culture for them. It’s about fit not worth. There is a culture for them somewhere that matches their values.”

I love these guys – Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger. This podcast was very timely in my own cultural experience. I am watching an organization dear to me go through a painful downsizing – through a voluntary retirement incentive to start. This organization (both aspirationally and actually) values longevity, experience, perseverance, and history. You can imagine the struggle within of how to come to grips with this direction – necessary but heart-wrenching for them as an organization. Organizational culture is important to understand. It is how we help our culture through a crisis to get back to a healthy place. Culture cannot be disregarded.

Don’t Loathe the Culture You Lead by Eric Geiger

How Not to Loathe the Culture You Are Leading – Eric Geiger

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors by Patrick Lencioni

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars – PDF – Executive Book Summaries

SlideShare – Organization Culture and Climate

Organizational Structure and Culture – Principles of Management – New Charter University

Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches by Peter Greer and Chris Horst

Photo Credits: 5 Leadership Questions Header. Barnabas Piper, Eric Geiger, and Todd Adkins

 

5 Friday Faves – One Podcast on Organizational Culture, 3 Great Reads (Self-Medicating, Hard Decisions, Affliction) & a Sing-along

Blog - Friday Faves

1) A Podcast – 5 Leadership Questions about Building a Great Organizational Culture – This is a great conversation between Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger on organizational culture. They define culture as “shared values beneath the surface that drive behavior”. Aspirational values (what takes place on the wall) are distinguished from actual values (what takes place in the hall). What is your workplace culture? “We don’t treat people like that here”. Like what? What culture do you have or hope to build?Blog - Organizational Culture - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

Also see Organizational Culture and Climate – SlideShare.

2) On Self-Medication5 Socially Acceptable Ways Church Leaders Self-Medicate  – Carey Nieuwhof, a Canadian pastor and thinker on leadership, writes about how leaders can get caught up in “socially acceptable” self-medicating as a way to manage their stress. Important read for anyone in leadership.Blog - Self-medicating with Carey NieuwhofPhoto Credit: CareyNieuwhof.com

3) On Hard DecisionsBuilding the Courage to Make Changes  by Dr. Danita Johnson Hughes. Quick read on steps in making difficult workplace decisions. I have dear friends going through a tough downsizing which has to happen for their organization to survive. It took huge courage, faith, and forward-thinking on the part of the leaders to make that hard decision. .A Bible study along these lines can be found in a Slideshare on the Gospel of Mark (chapter 14).Blog - hard Decisions

Photo Credit: GreatLeadersServe.com – also a good resource.

4) On Affliction in the Lives of 3 Men – The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent, Book 2) by John Piper. The Swans Are Not Silent series by John Piper is a collection of biographies, grouped in such a way as to point to a particular character, situation, or gift from God. This volume is particularly fascinating to me because of how these men demonstrate the nearness of God in lives torn by trouble.

Blog - The Hidden Smile of God - John Piper on Affliction

Photo Credit: DesiringGod.org

5) A Sing-Along – YouTube videos of classic songs done in a bit different way. Enjoy and have a restful weekend.

YouTube Video – I Will Follow Him with André Rieu

YouTube Video – U.S. Navy Band – Selections from Jersey Boys