Last week, we engaged with a client in an inspiration workshop. The company is starting a digitalisation and automation transformation in a highly conservative environment. Before we start with the design of the concrete steps we wanted to inspire the team for the journey ahead. The objective was to create excitement for a better future and get them involved from the very start.
The end result was great. The senior leadership members expressed that the entire team was extremely open and engaged during the two days - something they have rarely seen before. The workshop indeed created a stepping stone for change where we will be able to achieve significant improvements to the way the team is operating today. How did we do that?
During the workshop we were focusing on four elements that made this event successful:
For sure, the teams also expressed a number of worries: will we get enough resources; how can I deal with the additional workload; after the automation, will I still have my job; how will this initiative benefit my own career? A lot of great questions which are important to address. Therefore it is vital that these concerns are expressed early in the project. Only thanks to the openness and safety the team felt during the workshop, these topics could surface.
And as you can see, the entire event was embedded in a cosy, relaxing place; away from the regular work environment. Plus with excellent food that kept the energy high.
For a few months I observed a certain notion; a change that is forming and starting to emerge. And last week, a friend of mine shared a story that greatly describes my notion. Here is the story.
My friend is regularly working in two different sites which are not far from each other and yet are very distinct. One day he met a colleague at the northern site, which has recently moved jobs from the southern site to here. My friend asked her, how is she experiencing her new job? She replied that she has only been here for 2-3 weeks and has observed one big difference: the people are much more open, the people are collaborating with a closer knit, and as a result, decisions are made much faster. When asked, what she thinks makes the difference, the answer was astonishingly simple. She expressed that she also observed that the lunch routine is different. At the southern site, most people organise their individual lunch from home or delivery, because there is no cantine that everyone can use. At the northern site, the company is providing a nice canteen and everyone is having their lunch there together. The managing director of the site is a regular visitor. As a result, the MD and everyone else is easier to approach and the people simply feel closer to each other.
I love this story! A great example of how culture is defined and influenced. Hofstede has defined four elements: values, stories, routines and artefacts. And here we clearly have the latter two present: routines as in going to have lunch with your colleagues on a regular basis; and artefacts in form of the canteen itself, a place to gather as a community.
I can feel that we are starting a period where people are longing for a community feel.
Why is that? In my observation, over the last 2-3 decades many companies and manager have created the routine to talk about individual performance, paying out individual bonuses, developing talents in their individual careers, defining individual role descriptions, etc. All this has fostered a strong individual thinking. We went away from achieving results in teams, focusing on the success of the company, and caring for all people in our different communities.
The recent pandemic then created a stronger awareness of this situation - hey, it is actually not so fun to do everything by ourselves; it makes us insecure. Let's come together again! In a community, we feel more protected, we have more fun, we can leverage more skills and experiences - we can be strong.
How can we bring this community feel back into our organisations? Here some ideas:
How do you think we can bring the community feel back?
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Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.