True Example of Culture Hacking. Enjoy!
Deploy or Die. Watch this great TED talk by Joi Ito on how to become an innovator.
The season for change is here
What is it about the fall that reminds us that change is inevitable? Is it the leaves changing color, the crisp breeze, or that back-to-school buzz in the air that forces us to acknowledge that nothing stays the same and that change is coming.
This, fall instead of wasting time trying to hold onto the summer or anticipating the arrival of winter, try to embrace this beautiful season of change and consider what needs some change in your own life.
Ask yourself: “What kind of change would increase my happiness and well-being?” Is it your career? Your health? Is it your emotional state, mood, or attitude toward others that needs to change? As the leaves begin to brighten and ripen, let it become clear to you that if you want to make a change, the time is now.
Say you are considering a career change. This is the best piece of advice I ever received about this kind of change: “If you want to change fields, be sure to know what you don’t know and need to know, and then learn it.“
If you are considering a new career path, begin by knowing and understanding exactly what you want to do and what you need to learn in order to be able to shift into the new career field. This means taking inventory of your passions, skills, and strengths and supplementing your skill set with classes, seminars, or boot camps in the areas you may be lacking but will better prepare you for the new field you wish to enter.
Purposeful change is about making new choices but also equipping yourself with the skills or mindset to make the change possible.
Now is the perfect time to explore new opportunities, no matter what kind of change you are contemplating. Get out there and take a continuing education class at your local university or register for a class or two online at udacity. Or plan a trip that will get you out of your day-to-day and open the doors and windows of your mind to some new thinking and new possibilities. Even a one-day “sabbatical” can help to change the lens on your world.
You can take your cue from the leaves and embrace bold, beautiful, and inevitable change. Or you can stay stuck in your fear of change and hope for the best. I say you take the risk, express your change desires to someone you trust, and prepare yourself for what’s possible. You won’t regret it!
20 Words to Inspire
Below are 20 words I’m thinking about right now. They are my gift to you on this special day!
1. Unconditional. No strings, no expectations, and no judgment. It’s also the best way—the only way—to truly love someone.
2. Forgiveness. There is no greater gift you can offer yourself than to forgive. Forgiveness is the cure for pains of the heart.
3. Prosperity. The secret to prosperity is to choose to live happily ever after below your means.
4. Simplicity. Remove five things from your to-do list, your desktop, and your closet today. Then do it again tomorrow. And again the day after. At some point you will discover the beautiful essence of simplicity in your life.
5. Focus. The science to moving forward in life is to focus on exactly where you are right now.
6. Mindfulness. Being fully present, entirely mindful is the most important (and utterly addictive) discovery of my adult life.
7. Happiness. I hold the key to my own happiness. Define what makes you fall to your knees in happiness and prioritize experiencing that joy daily.
8. Family. Cultivate, grow, expand and prioritize the love seeping across your family. Whether it’s the family you created at home, at work or the one you are born into, those relationships at the end of day are what matters most. Cherish them.
9. Resilience. No one teaches you how to be resilient and resourceful, yet survival—and success—depends on these qualities.
10. Play. Play is what human beings do naturally when they allow themselves to be themselves. Do more of this!
11. Smile. Measure the quality of your life in smiles. The more happiness you express with a smile, the more happiness is reflected back at you in others.
12. Do. We devour books, we study, we listen, and then we sit on our asses and do nothing. Wisdom is only attained by doing. Knowing is not enough, we must do.
13. Spirit. Prayer, meditation, faith and spirituality matter more than you think. You want to know yourself? A spiritual practice—any kind at all—is how to look inside.
14. Reboot. When you reach a point where you know you need a change, do not wait—do it now. The paradox of life is beautiful. Reinvention is a purposeful act of progress.
15. Choose. Sometimes the bravest thing to do is simply to choose.
16. Move. Travel, exploration, and just the simple act of moving shape how you see the world and how you see your role within it.
17. Hug. Oxytocin, the warm and fuzzy chemical in our brains, is released with every meaningful hug. Give someone a free fix and you’ll get one right back.
18. Hack. Hack your life, your family, and your work to create a unique culture composed of what matters most to you.
19. Closeness. Every day, we’re on a mission to hide or protect ourselves from others. Getting close to someone else is how you learn more about yourself.
20. Aim. Not all goals are meant to be met. Some goals just help us aim in the right direction.
We spend 50 percent of our waking lives at work and the rest of our lives sleeping, eating, playing, and caring for others. If half of every day is spent at work, why don’t we try harder to make it the best experience we can afford ourselves?
As a self-proclaimed organizational culture hacker who loves to flow in and out of large organizations coaching, problem solving, and instigating change, I’ve learned a lot about how to make an impact on workplace culture.
Workplace culture consists of a group of norms and behavior, which creates underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place. Let’s look at how to bust up the norms a little to enrich the culture for yourself and everyone you work with.
Identify the cultural pain points
The first step to changing your everyday experience within the context of your work environment is first to become an active observer of the behaviors, norms, patterns, expectations, or interactions that are not adding value to your work experience. These may have been unrecognized or invisible to you until you brought them to a conscious level, but they are the pain points of your workplace culture.
If you are stuck in your routines, in order to really understand where you stand, you have to slow down and scrutinize everything about your work experience that drives you crazy-everything that negatively pokes at your mood, productivity, attitude, and quality of work.
What sucks about culture is that everyone follows the group mindset and group norm and if there is something not working within the norm everyone continues to follow it, and there is a perpetuation of negative behavior. For example, email trumping face-to-face conversations, using decks to communicate through slides, or eating your lunch at your desk instead communing around a meal with others. These are no-value-add behaviors that go unacknowledged and unaddressed until someone calls them out or something bad happens as a result of these behaviors. So here’s the most important question to ask yourself:
What’s the added value?
For example, if you inhabit a culture where there are conference calls and meetings to discuss every little decision, next time you’re getting on one of those calls or stepping into one of those meetings, ask yourself “What is the added value in what we are doing?” Are we meeting because we know we will benefit from constructive diverse or cross-functional perspectives? Or are we doing it because that’s just what we do?
One of the great outcomes in asking “What’s the added value?” is that it can lead to new ideas, new perspectives, and new innovations that can directly impact the quality of everyone’s experience as well as the business.
Now hack your organization’s culture
Once your personal observations are made and your assessment of which particular areas of the culture are negative triggers, it’s time to take action. In order to hack your organization’s culture-to really disrupt the norm-you have to get creative. Being creative is risky business, though, and takes courage and passion. It’s through exercising your creative muscles that you’ll be able to develop alternative approaches to pain points and identify new solutions to old workplace experiences, standards and processes to accomplish your goals.
For example, I have a dear friend, Nilofer Merchant, a true hacker of culture who refuses to take meetings in an office and goes on hike meetings instead. Clients, investors, partners, and vendors all have to go on long walks with her in exchange for her time. This fresh, unlikely approach to meetings often knocks people a little off kilter at first, but invariably opens the door to new relationships and innovative thinking.
Share your vision
My grandmother a woman who never learned to read or write always said, “we are our stories.” Hackers of culture must share their stories, share what they envision for change. Think of it as a campaign. Tell everyone up, across, and down the organization what you are up to as if your intention is to convince them to follow your lead. The more you speak about creative solutions and demonstrate change, the more change will happen.
For example, I have a client who hates weekly reports and started creating short videos instead of writing up his weekly report. He used visuals, sound effects, and personal narrative to share the story of his results, challenges, and opportunities. His boss was shocked at first and a bit resistant, but then found himself looking forward to receiving his weekly video report, and his video recaps have gone viral across the organization.
It’s on you to be the champion for change in your workplace culture. Step away from the groupthink and challenge others to participate with you to improve some aspect of the culture. Remember: some of the most remarkable and meaningful changes come from the bottom. Change from the top is usually how change is imposed upon us, but sustainable change- big and small -starts from the bottom, one person at a time.
To paraphrase the mighty Gandhi, “Be the change, hack the culture.”
Great Reads about Organizational Culture:
Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath
Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright
The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
Watch Nilofer Merchant’s TED talk, “Got a meeting? Take a walk,” here.