It’s no secret that I love my work as a podcast co-host and an organizational change consultant. As a co-host of The HumanCurrent, there are two questions that I am frequently asked: how do we (my co-host and I) practice what we talk about in our podcast and how do we live out our Twitter handle @Letsworkhappy. I love these questions so much that I’ve written this blog to share some of our practices.
My hope is that everyone can experience happiness at work and perhaps by me sharing these favorite practices, you can apply at least one of them at your work. Cheers to working happy!
I believe that a big part of the problem lies in the way we think about culture. In most of the organisations I work with, culture is still seen as something that can be accurately diagnosed and designed. There is a belief that the leadership team, or a group of expert consultants can design and implement an objectively ideal culture. The issue with this is that culture is an emergent property of a complex system. It emerges and evolves over time from a myriad of interactions between people, their environment and the structural aspects of the organisation e.g. processes, policies etc. It finds expression (and is shaped by) the ongoing conversation, the stories and observations shared in casual conversation, the symbols displayed and the rituals engaged in, sometimes subconsciously. It often cannot be fully articulated, but it known by everyone who is a part of the system.
Because the culture is ever emerging and evolving, any attempt to accurately “diagnose” it is flawed. Any culture audit result is only ever a partial point in time description, and the very act of diagnosing changes the system. The way we go about the diagnosis is also problematic. From a complex systems perspective, typical culture audit instruments has several short comings: