This is part of a series of posts about people who directly shape the culture of organizations, specifically start-ups.
Where did the Culture Map come from?
I wrote a book, the Connected Company, which is an exploration of how some of the newer companies out there have maintained the ability to grow while staying agile. Amazon is a good example. They are actually designed differently than traditional companies, they operate differently, and they have different sets of priorities.
Many of the more traditionally-organized companies I have spoken with have asked me how they could become a more connected company. The biggest barrier they all face is an existing culture that is based on more traditional principles. So I wanted to create explore culture. What I mean by culture is: the way people do things in the organization. I asked Alex Osterwalder, who had designed the Business Model Canvas, to help me build a similar tool that could help organizations explore the different components of culture, and how they interrelate.
How does this help start-ups scale culture as they grow?
There are two kinds or organizations who find the Culture Map interesting:
Companies who have an existing culture that needs to change. For these companies, culture is a barrier to making progress.
Companies that have emerging culture they like. They fear losing this culture as they grow, and so they want to scale the magic. They want to capture that magic, keep it alive, and be more intentional about it.
For the second type, the Culture Map helps them get a grip on what is it that makes their culture special. What are the things that might block the culture?
Many people feel like you can’t design culture, that it only happens organically. But I think of it like landscape or garden design. You can design it, but nature is still a force. You can’t control it. You can’t make it happen faster or slower. It will emerge over time, with a lot of care and nurturing.
On the culture map, there are three categories:
Outcomes: These are the fruits of the garden-- the things that you get as a result of the culture (great service, revenue, moving fast).
Behaviors: these are the things that people do every day, the core of the culture.
Enablers and blockers: these are things that leaders and managers put in place that enable and block the outcomes and behaviors.
Do most organizations ask your team to facilitate?
We mainly facilitate it, but some people do it on their own. It’s more difficult on your own. Let’s say you’re the boss, and people don’t want to share their opinion. It’s like a family therapy session. You need a therapist who can be neutral.
When we facilitate it, we start with a small functional group that already knows each other. Sometimes it helps to tell people that their feedback and thoughts will be anonymized. We want them to open up and say: here’s our behaviors, and here’s why. Here are the things that are enabling those behaviors.
We find that in older organizations, after we do Culture Mapping, we usually hear people say, “Thank you. That’s the first time anyone has asked me how to create an environment where it would be easy to do my best work.”
The “old school” thinking way about designing culture is designing it from above. This method is like designing the maze with the cheese in the right place to get the rats to go through the maze. But we can never design the maze right. The Culture Map treats people like people, not rats. We can say, if this is the kind of behavior we want to see, then tell us what kind of environment we need to create?
What do teams do next after the Culture Map?
The moment you start using the Culture Map to facilitate conversations, your culture is already starting to change. Those conversations are exactly the ones that are required to move the culture forward.
What's next for the Culture Map?
Culture is only one piece of the puzzle for an organization, but it’s foundational. In many organizations, the culture has become disconnected from the strategy. There are a lot of people helping companies with their strategy. The reason culture is important is because culture is at the heart of how the organization will execute the strategy, including the reasons to care. Culture is usually the weakest link in the chain, and Culture Mapping can help to fix that.
Download the latest version of the Culture Map and sign up for updates on Dave's website: http://xplaner.com/culturemap/
Plus, check out all of XPLANE's workshops here: http://www.xplane.com/workshops