Monthly Culture Inspiration: January 2018

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

Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 8.10.25 PM.png

Visual: Why Organizations Must Change 

Virpi Oinonen, also known as The Business Illustrator, has a series of wonderful illustrations about organizations. I like this one about Why Organizations Must Change.

Book: The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America

A friend introduced me to David Whyte, a poet who works with organizations to help them bring soul back into corporate life. We all have emotions in the workplace, but we don't always have the language for how to talk about them-- so the language of poetry can help. His book The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America is a lovely exploration of what it means to be human at work.

Here are a few passages that I loved:

This split between our work life and that part of our soul life forced underground seems to be at the root of much of our current unhappiness. This is now changing. Continually calling on its managers and line workers for more creativity, dedication, and adaptability, the American corporate world is tiptoeing for the first time in its very short history into the very place from whence that dedication, creativity, and adaptability must come: the turbulent place where the soul of an individual is formed and finds expression. These first tentative corporate steps toward understanding personal artistry and individual creativity are bringing to life a swirling natural boundary where human beings have always lived uneasily: one foot planted solidly in the light-filled world, the other desperately looking for purchase in the dark unknown. 

Corporate America now desperately needs the powers historically associated with the poetic imagination not only to see its way through the present whirligig of change, but also, because poetry asks for accountability to a human community, for rootedness and responsibility even as it changes. The twenty-first century will be anything but business as usual. Institutions must now balance the need to make a living with a natural ability to change. They must also honor the souls of the individuals who work for them and the great soul of the natural world from which they take their resources. Facing the invitation to write this book, I grew fainthearted at the prospect of melding the fluid language of the soul with the dehydrated jargon of the modern workplace.

Soul has to do with the way a human being belongs to their world, their work, or their human community. Where there is little sense of belonging there is little sense of soul. The soulful qualities of life depend on these qualities of belonging. It seems to me that human beings are always desperate to belong to something larger than themselves. When they do not feel this belonging they not only feel as if they are running in place, they quite often feel as if they are dying in place. Without belonging no attempt to coerce enthusiasm or imagination from us can be sustained for long. Preservation of the soul means the preservation at work of humanity and sanity (with all the well-loved insanities that human sanity requires).

Article to Bookmark: Shaping Design Culture

Mia Blume is a product designer and design leadership coach. She previously worked at Pinterest, Square and IDEO. In this Shaping Design Culture post on Medium, she gives 7 tips for leaders growing a small startup team or improving an existing culture, along with examples from design-led cultures.