Nurture Your Culture
Culture change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. Really, it’s more of a journey. Often it’s a shift from entitlement to partnership. It has to happen in many ways at many levels within your organization. It begins with values and is driven by leadership. It is demonstrated by the degree to which people have freedom and power to make decisions on their own vs. getting stuck in hierarchical bureaucracy. It determines the experience that EVERY stakeholder has in the process of doing business, from senior leadership, down through the organization, out to the customer and on to the shareholders. Culture is the red thread that is woven all the way through the fabric of your organization, and truly is the organizational story.
Here are the dimensions of culture necessary to attend to when shifting culture:
- Clarity of strategy – knowing where you’re going, what needs to be done to get there, and understanding how you fit in
- Systems & Structures – that support employees ability execute on the strategy while living the values
- Agility & Adaptability – A workforce with the right skills and mindset, and systems and structures flexible enough to change as you grow
- Relationships – Based on trust, they have to be strong enough for everyone to tell and hear appropriate levels of truth
- Communication – early and often at all levels to ensure everyone is fully informed
- Stories – the foundation of your culture. Understanding how individual and team stories connect to the organization’s story enables success.
It is widely accepted that a healthy culture, and trust between employees and management, drives success. Building trust and nurturing culture relies on everyone’s ability to clearly articulate their story.
- Stories are the life-blood of your people.
- People are the life-blood of your organization.
- The stories your people propagate the culture of your organization.
By working with your stories we unpack the array of factors that influence and create long term success. Nurturing your culture involves being willing to listen to and acknowledge the validity of every story
Three C’s of Culture
To focus on, to nurture, and to maintain it
Of behaviors with vision, mission and values
Between strategy & values, between leadership and their teams, between people.
Customer #1 - The Shift
VN&Co was called in to assist a large manufacturing firm in making a cultural shift. They had developed a strategy that was based on their vision mission and values, and wanted to integrate it all into the company culture.
APPROACH: VN&Co “Living Case Study”
VN&Co helped design and deliver an offsite meeting with the top 250 leaders. We did research, conducted interviews and worked with a cross-functional team to identify the story. At the big event, following a presentation by the CEO, participants were engaged right from the beginning with various action based methods to literally see where they stood on various issues. After viewing the live scenes presented by VN&Co actor/facilitators that dramatized the story as it was, including articulating the concerns of various stakeholders, participants were invited to make suggestions to the actors on what they thought should change. As the actors improvised on their suggestions, delegates began to articulate agreements, commitments and behaviors that would be necessary for them to successfully execute this new strategy. This led to valuable cross functional conversations culminating with employee teams creating their own scenes and presenting them to the whole. The VN&Co team lead then hosted a fish bowl conversation with the senior leadership team about what they had witnessed throughout the few days as their team members worked together to establish creative approaches to integrating the company vision mission and values. VN&Co closed the event with actors improvising enactments of audiences thoughts and feelings about what they’d just heard from their senior leaders. The whole event was videotaped and presented back to the firm with a handbook for future training events at various levels throughout the organization.
A shared unified language and vision of the future, specific actionable steps and processes that could be implemented upon returning to work, and top company leaders fully inspired by both the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead.
CUSTOMER #2 - Deeper Insight
CHALLENGE: A major silicon valley based tech holds a leadership event for the company’s top female leaders. The event seeks to address diversity and inclusion issues and help women break the perceived glass ceiling for women executives. Having used other approaches in the past, the planners decide to they want bring new life to the issue through live theatre. VN&Co holds the key.
APPROACH: VN&Co “Living Case Study”
Working in collaboration with the event planning team and another presenter, a researcher from MIT, VN&Co provides an ensemble to research, write and enact typical situations that Director, VP and SVP level women leaders often experience, including how they are treated by senior level men and other women competitors for their positions. Integrating the research findings of the MIT researcher into the enactments, VN&Co dramatize the behaviors that often get in the way of successful encounters, meetings and negotiations. Participants are empowered to stop the action and make recommendations for specific behavior changes that the actors then improvise. Participants experience first hand how certain specific choices either support or impede their success.
A clear unified understanding of the conditions, behaviors and attitudes that facilitate leadership development and professional growth. Specific practice in how to make choices that effect desired outcomes. The strengthening of the community leaders share within the organization. Plenty of laughter and enlightening experiences.
Customer #3 - Ivy League Thorns
CHALLENGE: An Ivy League New England University needs a kickoff program for a university wide day of development to address key faculty/staff challenges. How they work with others, the need for clear communication and desire for more relationship building are stated challenges as well as the ability to improve having transformative conversations. VN&Co is recommended and fits the bill.
APPROACH: Muti-tiered program
VN&Co uses its Living Case Study approach combined with a Connected Communicator workshop. Informed by research, interviews and collected data, a VN&Co ensemble creates and delivers various scenes depicting common challenges. Audience participation leads to the clarification of new mindset and behaviors. When participants break off into subgroups for subsequent small group skill building sessions, a percentage choose The Connected Communicator workshop.
Participants gain greater understanding of various approaches to solve thorny issues. Skills, mindset and behaviors that support growth and development are clarified and demonstrated. New toolkits of approaches and techniques are acquired. University leaders are inspired to take the whole initiative many steps further using VN&Co to provide solutions through Living Case Study, Connected Stories Playback Theatre and VN&Co designed and led facilitator training.
“Get culture right and everything else takes care of itself”.John Mackey