Monthly Culture Inspiration: November 2016

Every month, I post three types of culture inspiration: a visual, a book, and an article to bookmark.

Visual: 6 Games To Envision The Culture You Want

Describing an organization's culture is challenging. Using visuals and games gets beyond the superficial and generic to what’s uniquely true about your organization. Stephanie Gioia from design strategy firm XPLANE collected six games you can play with your organization to map your current or desired culture.

I particularly like the Mascot Game:


Book: Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Transforming Business from the Inside Out

Many of America’s largest companies, such as General Mills, Target, Google, and Aetna, have built extensive programs to foster mindful practices at work. New York Times reporter David Gelles' new book Mindful Work provides in depth examples of exactly HOW these mindfulness rituals work inside organizations. There are so many good practices to borrow from in your own organization. My favorite example is from clothing retailer Eileen Fisher:

"Fisher began offering yoga, Pilates, and mindfulness classes to her employees. But she didn’t stop there. In an effort to bring a more mindful culture into the office, she installed a pair of chimes in every room of company headquarters. Before each meeting, someone rings the chimes and everyone in the room sits together in silence for a few minutes, checking in with their bodies and minds, and bringing a sense of clarity to the start of the meeting. “It’s hard to concretely say what a difference it’s made, but the feeling of connection is amazing,” Fisher said. “That minute to stop is powerful. Everyone is coming from their different worlds and different agendas, and this brings us together.”

"The company also adheres to what it calls the “Circle Way.” Whenever possible, meetings are held in a circle, rather than at a traditional conference table with a leader sitting at the head. The belief is that there “is a leader in every chair.” Like other mindful meeting techniques, the Circle Way allows introverts and more junior employees to have a voice. At the company’s World Café meetings, people from all over the company come together and brainstorm ideas, irrespective of station or expertise. Fisher has won the trust of her employees by setting a good example, but also by taking good care of them. At least 10 percent of annual after-tax profits are distributed to staff. And in recent years, Fisher has been transferring ownership of the company to workers through an employee stock ownership plan."

"When it comes to the company’s impact on the world, mindfulness has made Fisher more sensitive to environmental degradation. In recent years she has made sustainability, already a value of the company, a top priority, shifting manufacturing processes and changing the sourcing of materials. In 2012, Eileen Fisher changed the way its silk in China was dyed, reducing the use of chemicals by 45 percent and water usage by 25 percent. And eventually, mindfulness led Fisher to reevaluate her company’s overseas production facilities. Now, all full-time employees in China receive entrepreneurial training, so they can, it is hoped, start their own businesses, rather than keep working in a factory."

Article to Bookmark: The Atlassian Team Playbook

Atlassian makes software development and collaboration tools. It published the Atlassian Team Playbook, a "no-bullshit guide to unleashing your team's potential."

Working as a team is really hard. There are thousands of books about the power of teams, but much fewer tools for how to actually improve the way your team works together. Atlassian originally developed this playbook to help its own teams work better, and they've now published it for the public. You'll find step-by-step guides for tracking your team's health and a series of "plays" to help strengthen your team.