Tuesday Morning Focal Point

Tuesday Morning Focal Point – December 6, 2016 – Creating a High Performing Culture

Last week I spent some time with a new client where my deliverable is to work with the senior leadership team of approximately 16 including the CEO, to support a Culture Mapping process and help create alignment.  Our first day together was exciting and energizing, as we used “story telling” to elicit from each person’s professional experience, data that would help us determine how to create the kind of culture this organization would like.

We used as our guide, Dave Gray’s Strategyzer material – which was a very helpful model to guide our work together.  There were a ton of great reflections throughout the day as we sought to “mine” each story for the kinds of Outcomes, Behaviours, Enablers and Blockers that needed to be named and owned for this organization to be able to create their Culture Map and advance their culture.  Just like anything, if we don’t have a map or a guide, we will not get there.  I loved the commitment and recognition amongst members of this leadership team regarding the necessity of actually developing and following a Culture Map that would be disseminated to all staff and relevant partners.

Sometimes metaphors can be very powerful, and the metaphor of a garden, which Dave Gray often uses, is one that we found particularly useful.  In short, Dave Gray suggests that the Outcomes are ultimately the fruit we want to be able to harvest from our business, the Behaviours are the things we do to tend the garden such as watering, pulling weeds, etc and the Enablers and Blockers are the existing conditions such as the quality of the soil, the nutrients naturally occurring, predators like slugs and rabbits, the amount of sunlight naturally occurring etc.  Some of these things we can mitigate prevent and enhance, but the most critical pieces of course are the Behaviours we choose to enact.

The most energizing part of the day spent with this team was the willingness each team member had to say “yes” to behaving in certain ways and to hold each other accountable in bold and specific ways for their follow through.  We cannot simply imagine having a particular type of culture and think it will happen by itself.  Without a map, we are lost.  If you want to create a high performing culture, you need to become intentional in the creation of a Culture Map that guides how you and those around you lead and behave in particular.

 Cameron’s Call to Action

  1. Do you have a Culture Map to guide your culture? If not, recognize that you won’t get there – culture will happen by accident, but I can promise you it won’t be the culture you are hoping for – it will be nothing more than a slight approximation.
  2. At very least, consider spending some time with your senior leadership discussing what kinds of behaviours are required by each leader if you are going to build and experience the kind of culture you want.
  3. Develop a plan to build a Culture Map that everyone contributes to and is expected to follow, and ensure you have accountability mechanisms in place. Consider bringing in an Executive Coach to guide this process, but if you are not prepared to do that, at least make time and space for your team to determine behaviours and then live them out.  Oh, and remember, a Culture Map is a dynamic map that needs to be continually reviewed and updated.  Do this well, and get ready to see good outcomes!

Cameron is an Executive Coach and Consultant specializing in business growth and workplace mental health. 

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