Monthly Culture Inspiration: May 2018

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

Visual: The Culture Book

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The Culturati Summit, which convenes C-Suite leaders to talk about culture once a year, self-published The Culture Book, an anthology described as "a guide to developing awesome and sustainable company cultures from the people who have built them." It features pieces about how to identify, embed and sustain your own authentic, high-performing culture from Kim Malone Scott (author of Radical Candor), Patty McCord (former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix), Lindsay McGregor (author of Primed to Perform), Sara Holoubek (CEO of Luminary Labs), and many more. And it is beautifully designed!


Book: New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms

Old power is held by few: it is closed, inaccessible, and guarded. New power is made by many: it is open, participatory, and peer-driven. New power is ascendent. Think Airbnb, Lyft, Etsy, Bitcoin, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo. New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World-and How to Make It Work for You is written by Jeremy Heimans, C.E.O. of Purpose, which supports global social movements, and Henry Timms, executive director at New York’s 92nd Street Y.

The book includes stories about power in many settings, but I was most interested in its stories of power in organizations. The authors peek inside of the culture of Lyft vs. Uber. They interview a driver who has worked at both companies, who explains that Uber tries to distance itself from its drivers, while Lyft tries to support and empower its drivers. "Uber vs. Lyft is a story of design choices: How much agency and value should go to participants?" Lyft is using new power methods to push the power down to the drivers, which increases their pay and satisfaction.

The book also discusses Buurtzorg, a Dutch home-care organization which has attracted international attention for its innovative use of independent nurse teams in delivering high-quality, relatively low-cost care. The self-management structure of Buurtzorg is similar to Holacracy, but the authors point out that the reason Buurtzorg's self-management structure works, while most attempts at Holacracy have failed, is that Holacracy is full of restrictions and protocols. Holacracy sounds like new power, but actually is "new power for robots." One person who had been a part of a Holacratic organization explained, "It felt like being part of a code... an algorithm that is optimized for machines, not humans. Instead of feeling more whole, self-organized and more powerful, I felt trapped. The circles I was being part of idd not feel empowering at all." But Buurtzorg puts humans first, which is why nurses love working there.


Article to Bookmark: Reinventing Organizations Wiki

One of the books that I recommend people read about culture and organizations is Frederic Laloux's Reinventing Organizations, a joyful guide to enlightened organizations who have found new and better ways of working. Laloux also created a handy wiki for "leaders looking to upgrade specific management practices in their organization." The Culture and Values page is particularly helpful.