Atmospheric Elements for Transforming Your Company Culture
Face The Music works with our clients to support them in transforming their businesses—the culture, the processes, and the results. The transformation process we work with is a holistic systemic model, where the characteristics of the system (organization, team, or individual) cannot only be determined by the properties of its parts. The structure and relationships of the parts determine how the system expresses itself, and sometimes small, leveraged changes can make large impacts on the dynamics and results. Here are a few modalities practitioners experiment with that can support the transformational process.
Food is key.
• Individual diet change to support transformation
• Whole, organic foods served in the workplace and at meetings, conferences, and change initiative events
• Water—pure water not in plastic bottles
Meeting and work place setup and geography
• Innovative and interesting setups to facilitate convening and conversations
As well as music in the facilitated Face The Music programs, music can be a powerful context-setter, creating a soundtrack for your work. Warning: beware of imposing music on people. Get their input, suggestions, and contributions.
• Break music—Your soundscape sets the tone
• Background music, hold music; be careful of what goes on in the elevators.
• Walk on-off's at large meetings—We like to have a live band side stage, like late night talk shows have; includes: covers, customized lyrics, customized songs, video scoring, walk-in & walk-out music, play ons, and interaction with the presenters.
Quiet time; free time
• In the hundreds (thousands?) of meetings I've been a part of, there seems to be a mindset that "we need to jam pack our agenda to give these people as much as possible while we have them all together. I've seen agendas that go from 7:30 am to 10:30 at night with merely the standard 15-20 minute breaks, lunch and dinner, etc.; even "working lunches". This is not an optimal learning environment. People need time to digest.
• In the sit-in-front-of-a-computer-most-of-the-day environments, how can people integrate body movement into their work and interactions?
• Personal exercise and movement
• Activities for groups to be in their bodies when working together
• Meditation as a personal practice for transformation
• Meditation in an organizational culture
Integrating some of these practices into meeting and your workplace can facilitate new ways of interacting, innovating, and being together that can help shift the culture and integrate deeper contributions from the people involved. A lot of cutting edge companies are doing it. What can you put into practice in yours?
Words Build Worlds Part 2 of 3(click to read Part 1)
Michael Gold, PhD
Jazz and Leadership
Businesses are improvising every minute of every day. The headlines bemoan the uncertainty of change as if some period of golden stasis and predictability will soon descend on us. NOT. We are now improvising and there is nothing in the lexicon of traditional management science that helps us understand how an organization improvises. I've used jazz as a generative metaphor for Leadership Development at Kellogg Northwestern for many years now. When I use the ensemble to demonstrate that true leadership in changing environments is a relational condition that exists at every level of the organization, executive managers seize on the insights as if they had been searching for them for years and—in fact—they have been.
Many of the executives have had the epiphany that this type of relational leadership can't be quantified and measured because it isn't a static condition. It is distributed and emergent. This type of leadership is a relational quality that appears exactly when and where it is needed with precisely the right support. The great challenge is to sustain this kind of relational leadership you need people who are empathically and aesthetically intelligent.
Uh Ohh!! Half the audience just started running for the exit, right? Sorry for the 25 cent words but there just ain't no other way to explain what's missing from most of our workplace cultures let alone the political arena.
Let's start with Aesthetic Intelligence, a term introduced by Rochelle Mucha in a book of the same title. It means: "the capacity to fully utilize the power of your senses to reveal fresh approaches to tackling long-standing challenges and opportunities in a global, ever-changing marketplace." How many leaders do you know that function like that? THAT subject should be 101 in any good MBA Program but guess what? It's not.
And what is empathic intelligence? Well, the poet John Keats defined it as "Negative Capability" — the capacity to live with and tolerate paradox and ambiguity. But to identify with the moods and modes of suffering of others you have to tolerate paradox and ambiguity. Important? You bet it is. Let's demystify Keats's 'suffering' and call it the uncomfortable state of holding yourself open to conflicting possibilities. Think of a time when your spouse or kids were graced with that state of mind. Ahhh, familial bliss, right? And if you are fortunate enough to work in an environment where managers, and C-suite-ers have these capabilities, then you're likely to be experiencing the agile fluidity of distributed and emergent leadership in your day-to-day experience. You're also likely to be working in a company that is colonizing the future as it creates its own market share. That is improvisation.
Unfortunately there is an enormous shortage of this kind of thinking and it's due in large part to the absence of language to imagine and actualize it. We need new systemic models to look towards as generative metaphors. We need to understand that true leadership is NEVER separated from integrated followership. We need the experience of knowing the leader is actually following the cues of those they are leading. Ironically, there is model and it's been there ever since 1924 when Mary Follett published The Creative Experience. It's Jazz. Really? Really.
What event, initiative or challenge do you have coming up that Face The Music can add value to?