Facing uncertainty can be challenging – being a business owner facing uncertainty is tougher.
Red Direction helps you [fast track and] grow your business – authentically, pragmatically, and resiliently.
Starting the conversation:
Start where you are at and observe what is happening within a business to understand what decisions you need to make to shift culture. It takes time to understand how each role contributes to something larger: your company’s mission. Join us to hear insights about trusting institutional knowledge and slowing down big decisions.
Host: Jess Dewell
Guests: Anthony (Tony) Minessale, Carol Sanford, Steve Simpson
What You Will Hear:
Culture is determined by the way we do work and connects every business function and person together. Being able to dig deep when results and outcomes are not as expected requires a willingness to notice what’s present that creates undesirable results. This information will be what we use to change and includes acknowledging assumptions and unlearning. Jess Dewell welcomes guests Tony Minessale, CEO SignalWire, Steve Simpson, Director Keystone Management, and Carol Sanford, Executive Producer of The Regenerative Business Summit, to share insights about the reasons strong business cultures are the future of work.
The importance of getting the culture right.
There is more to culture than we typically think – it includes each individual’s worldview.
There are three levels of awareness that allow us to notice Unwritten Ground Rules (UGR) and the way work is done.
Are we courageous enough to unlearn as an organization?
Five-step process to use URGs to improve culture.
Six assumptions that influence the way we show up because of our worldview.
It is important to create a shared language.
Frameworks versus models.
It is BOLD to build accountability and actively work on accountability.
Notable and Quotable:
Steve Simpson 00:00 We literally had one person write these words word for word, “Customers are in an interruption to my working day.” I kid you not.
Carol Sanford 00:09 The news tries to give us both sides of that, which is nonsense. There’s nothing “both” about it.
Tony Minessale 00:17 It’s just lemonade. More how to execute very well and make a lot of money selling.
Announcer 00:24 Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast. Your Business has many directions it can travel, the one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. In today’s program, we delve into one idea. The idea will support you as you work on ever-present situations, including how to stay competitive in a changing market, how to break through the business plateau, and how to anticipate the changing expectations of your stakeholders. Jess Dewell is your guide. Jess brings you a 20-year track record of Business Excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from the special place, your unique true north. Now, here’s Jess.
Jess Dewell 01:13 I’m glad to be with you today. This is the Bold Business Podcast, as you just heard, and guess what we’re talking about strong business culture being a future of work. And this matters so much today because we have all been thrown for a loop. And by the way, if you’re listening to this, and it is well past 2021, it is still timeless because we all get thrown for loops now and again, within our business. So how do we lead through that? How do we show up to it? Do we have the skills we need and the stamina required to navigate change to navigate the way work is done in our organization? And the answer is yes, yes, it is. And it comes down to having an understanding of what makes a strong business culture and what else impacts that culture. And so why now, it’s because we must start where we are at, we must use our awareness and the three levels of that awareness. And we must slow down and take time to make decisions, not any decision, the right decisions. And all of that comes down to the way we’re working together today. So we can decide what path we want to be on to take our companies into the future. Now, as you will hear throughout this, we have some fantastic guests that talked to me about this topic. And I’m going to introduce you to Steve Simpson. First, He is the creator of Yuji Rs. That’s unwritten ground rules. It’s a concept that brings more than 30 years experience working with organizations across the world, and helping them understand and strategically improve their workplace cultures. We all know that getting culture right is important. And let’s let Steve set that stage for us.
Steve Simpson 03:15 One of the keys is getting the culture right, getting the culture right. We’ll ask leadership teams this question the question we asked in our research was this. If the culture of your workplace was to become as good as it realistically could, how much improvement would there be on people’s performance slash productivity? And when our research we gave people a sliding scale it started from 00 is a legitimate answer, you might think the culture now realistically is as good as gonna get. And then we gave a sliding scale zero 1020 up to 100. And then 100%. Plus, just we were gobsmacked by the results from our research 89%. So we might as well say nine out of 10 senior leaders said 20% or more improvement will occur 58%, you might as well say six out of 10, middle managers said 50% or more improvement will occur in performance and productivity. Now, when I do it face to face or via Zoom when I’m working with a leadership team, it’s not uncommon for the average to be at around 40% for zero. Now that’s remarkable because where else through what other initiative, would you get that performance improvement for longevity, we need an engaging productive, positive workplace culture not only to keep our people to buy but to be a magnet that attracts people. So few organizations have that reputation for having a brilliant, positive, productive culture. And that’s a genuinely exciting opportunity, I think.
Jess Dewell 04:53 We’re talking about an untapped resource. And it’s not for lack of books. It’s not for lack of art. It’s a lack of Well, how do we navigate that in our own unique space? So Steve has set us up really to take a look at this in a particular way. Well, how do we dig in? How do we tap into what is in our companies? There is an interesting article from Harvard Business School called Small C Change Can Beat Corporate Rebuilding. Now, in this article, it talks about how that key is how do we share responsibility. How do we trust our institutional knowledge? And how do we lead by example, Boris Groysberg and his colleagues that put this together, tapped into those and more, and I think it’s really important to consider, and regardless of the stage of our company, considering these planting those seeds, helps us with our true north. And Tony’s talking about that. Tony Minessale is the CEO of Signal Wire, and he has 20 years of experience in software engineering, and most of that has been dedicated to telecommunications. He founded Signal Wire with the best team of minds, he could, and has a mission to bring the complex technology behind real-time communication to the mainstream. And here’s what Tony has to say, as we begin this journey of exploring culture,
Tony Minessale 06:25 Trust and courage have different meanings and business than they do in like the real world, the kind of trust doesn’t have to give people responsibility, and they have to be able to go off and carry it on himself. So he spent a lot of time forcing some simple messages that are necessary, remember, because when you’re by yourself, you know, out of sight, out of mind kind of things can study. And so you have to be careful that wherever you don’t know about doesn’t exist. That’s kind of a default in humans. So like, you have to make sure that people communication is more important. Because if you are isolated too much, then things that are happening aren’t happening whenever you start getting sidetracked and like so there’s a lot of practicing the moniker stay in your lane, you have to trust yourself, I’m doing my job. I know other people doing theirs. And you have to communicate differently. So there’s a little challenge when it comes to that stuff. But there’s also a lot of efficiency gain by it, because we’ve been out people who live completely opposite sides of the earth. And there’s some place where the sun is shining in both areas at once where they talk, but then they can go on separately. You know, we have people in Italy, who wake up seven hours soon us are already hard at work. A lot of engineers like to stay up late anyway. So we end up still seeing them even at the end of the day. We have people who work all over the place who help this have to learn how to say that’s the biggest difference. You can’t just wave a wand and everybody does stuff like you have to pay more attention to the individual groups.
Jess Dewell 07:49 When we’re in our business, we look at culture differently than when we are working on our business and thinking strategically. And moving between the forest and the trees is an incredible important piece of being able to set the culture set the essence set the understanding that allows a company to have trust to be innovative and creative. I’m doing this as a setup for introducing Carol Sanford who has written several books, including the regenerative business, she is exploring and talking about and telling us how to redesign work, cultivate human potential, and achieve more extraordinary outcomes with the resources we already have us. And let me just tell you a little bit more about Carol and why I brought her to this program with Tony and Steve. She is the founder and leader of the regenerative business development community. She is consistently recognized as a thought leader working side by side with fortune 500 companies, as well as new economy executives in designing and leading systemic business change. That is the key. What are we looking at? Do we like it? How do we want to go forward? How much do we actually really have to think about it to get the results and the differences and the impact that we want to happen to actually happen? So this is how Carol begins. As we’re setting up? Why strong business cultures are the future of work.
Carol Sanford 09:23 Think of some group that you really, really disagree with, and assume you’re married, or one of your children married one of those people, and everything in you is in pain because you can’t see why they see that. And one of them says Well, if you would just see what I see. And here’s what you go do. You would not be able to change because you’re locked in. Most people think 360-degree feedback is a really good thing to unlearn what you think you know by getting smarter about How you examine how you form ideas how you make sense of the world. That’s the first step you have to unlearn. And unmarshalling can take you a decade, it took me about a decade people do work with me now are getting faster, because I give you ways to assess all the different options, you have a lot about all but I give you a framework where you can say, Where am I? Am I in an extract value paradigm, which means it’s all about me. I’m gonna get what I can. I earned it. Now we know people like that, that drive us crazy, right? And we think they’re bad people. Actually, the problem is they have a worldview. And they’re interpreting from there. Or if I say, Look at yourself as inferior do good person. And most people say, Yeah, I identify with that. But what they don’t see is do good means you decide what’s best for others, most of the time. It’s how we colonize other countries. It’s why we start wars. It’s why we join religious groups. Doing good can be dangerous as well. But we’re identified with that. And when I say that to people, they go, but that didn’t do some good. I said, Well, how would you learn to assess that? There’s a third way. So we’re practicing and learning right now, right? The third way is a living systems view, which doesn’t build off of machines or the study of rats in a cage, but of how life works, how whole life shed, you call them watersheds, but that an anthropocentric view, right? So I just give you a bunch of exercises. And you play with him. You say, Well, but I need to make money and say, but do you do it from an extract value? A do good? Or can you do it from helping a life work? So your first phase death is not something go prepare yourself, and then you walk in the next day and you do it? It’s a very big unlearning. But it’s also great fun because it breaks all the shackles.
Jess Dewell 12:04 Alright, this conversation is big, this conversation is going to bring impact this conversation is going to stir what you already know. And the challenge here is can you consider and are you willing to explore on learning in the way that Carol set up for us? I will say that understanding our worldview is a great way to understand another’s worldview. So what can we do? One thing in one bite-size piece might be to notice.
Steve Simpson 12:42 You do know then you do nothing because you know what others might say? Because they’re not like you okay? Because we literally had responses like, around here customers are a pain in the neck. Actually censoring that because it was worse, worse than a pain in the neck. We literally had one person write these words word for word, customers are in an interruption to my working day, I kid you not. Each of these five companies had wonderful documentation proclaiming their commitment to customer service. What a load of rubbish, if they’re the prevailing Yuji ours, we can get to the core of this. And what we do now is we say, what’s your aspirational culture, most often that’s articulated through company values statements. So if that’s the culture that you’re fighting for, let’s find out what the utrs are in relation to those values. So I’ll give you an example of ever value of teamwork. I want to help people would complete this sentence around here when you need help or around here when it comes to dealing with people from other work areas. Feel the value of respect and wanting to help people would complete this sentence around here, people are treated. And so that form of getting people to complete the sentence is what we do often with organizations now. And we call this a Yuji as stocktake. Now no stocktake is not a term that’s commonly used in the US. It’s the equivalent to inventory. It’s a ugr z inventory, if you like, where we find out what the current UTI hours are in relation to those aspects of the culture that are most important to its future success, which probably will be the values and it’s gobsmacking what we revealed Yes, it is amazing.
Announcer 14:24 You are listening to the Bold Business Podcast. We will return to the show soon. But first, I want to take a moment and give you a peek into what additional services and solutions you could access to Fast Track Your Business. This program was created to develop your capacity on demand by sharing insights tips, as well as lessons learned by business leaders unedited and uncut. And we don’t just stop there. There are three additional benefits to help you reach your growth goals. You’ll also have unlimited access to one, hearing tips and insights to develop yourself as a leader to get better results more often and two, experiencing viewpoints from many different business leaders. Three, receiving frameworks to build core competencies and to more effectively focus on business growth and leadership. Altogether, the Fast Track Your Business program will allow you to face uncertainty, anytime, anywhere. You can access what will become your most personal tool in your toolkit by going to FastTrackYourBusinessToday.com. Now, back to Jess.
Jess Dewell 15:31 A way forward for small businesses today is an article that was published by the Harvard Business Review. They talk about the fact that we don’t want to rush decisions, they talk about how we’ve got to figure out how customer needs have changed. And they’ve also talked about things like realistic accounting within that big article. And I have to tell you, those three things stuck out in relationship to what we’re talking about today with strong business cultures being the future of work because as Carol said, she was talking about unlearning, the words that we use are incredibly important. And the behaviors that we have are incredibly important. And there’s so much more that is incredibly important that we must become aware of. And with that in mind, consider this.
Carol Sanford 16:19 I usually don’t try and use words like perfect, because they connote an opposite. They just are that is I woke up this morning. Yep. I’m disconcerted. I’m off-center, oh, I woke up this morning. And it got deeper. I’m just noticing that in the meditative observing, save the witness
Jess Dewell 16:38 Coming back to awareness. And whether we start organizationally in this life world on this rock that speeds through space that we all share in common, or whether we start internally, or whether we start somewhere else in the process. There is an awareness path that we have. Part one is, what kind of patterns are we seeing? Part two is, oh, I’m playing a role, or I’m seeing this pattern play out again. The third step is that pivotal point that we’re all searching for, which is that moment before we can recognize we’re going back down a pattern, or we can change the path that we’re on. And to Carol’s point about everything being opposites. Even everything I just said, has an condones, and an opposite being in place. And it comes back to knowing that the way we work together is important, why not consider deciding what to unlearn along the way, here’s a little bit more on this concept of awareness and consciousness.
Steve Simpson 17:44 100%, that’s, I think one of the major benefits is raising this to a level of consciousness, where if there is a silver bullet, when it comes to changing cultures, if there is one, and there probably isn’t, but if there is one, I would put my money on this, we need shared ownership for the culture. I think particularly as we get organizations become larger, there is a real risk that employees take a cop-out position, and a cop-out position is pointing upwards and saying, if only they fix things up, we’d be okay. Now there might be partly true, but it’s also a cop-out. Part of the excitement that I get from working with organizations is creating a shared understanding of culture through ugr. Because everyone gets Yuji as it’s not difficult to understand crania shared understanding but also helping people understand that every single one of us contributes to the prevailing uwg. Ours will give you a simple example, pre-COVID because that’s an easier context. It’s, by the way, I think COVID has made culture even more important. And we can get to that in a moment, if it’ll be one, by pre-COVID, that the context might have been, there are two people standing next to the water cooler, and you’re walking past and the two people you’re walking past are spreading negative gossip about somebody else is not there. Right? I would say, what’s the natural human inclination in that context? Well, the natural inclination is to stop join in, and add fuel to the fire. So not only that, but I know this right. Now, is that the right thing to do? Well, at an unconscious level, our human nature drives us to carry out that sort of behavior. We’re with adding fuel to the fire joining in. But if we’re conscious about this, then we’re going to ask yourself some questions. Is it the right thing to do? Should I be doing this? And maybe the right thing to do is to say to those two people, look, have either review, talk to the person about this, because maybe that’s the best thing to do in the first instance, rather than us spreading gossip. So there’s a hard edge to this, but that comes with a level of consciousness about this.
Jess Dewell 19:57 It sounds overwhelming. Taking time Part One overwhelming to understand how each being in an organization, part two of overwhelming is part of something bigger part three overwhelming. And there’s probably more parts than that. Let’s just say though, if we just took those three parts, understand each being part of something bigger. Well, that is a type of awareness that we can use to better understand a path to navigate forward staying true to our company’s true north. Which, by the way, that compass, that true north, what does it take to instill trust to execute?
Tony Minessale 20:39 We try to get people to own things, to learn how to pass, I have the past, now you have it, the whole thing with the trust is talking about being able to fully focus on your purview and work together with others, I have kind of my own thing that maybe is I’m stronger leaning towards just from my own experiences that maybe the rest of the company hasn’t fully adopted that I’m big on storytelling. Since I’ve been a software developer for 20 years, there’s an inherent upside to describing your experience, rather than just courting an analyst somewhere, I was working on this problem. And then I realized the thing was wrong, I ended up having to do this for two weeks, and you wouldn’t believe it. But this thing happened. And then someone’s like, that reminds me I had something similar, and then all sudden, you jog their brain, if you just kind of share, it’s kind of weird, but it goes back to like, when we were standing around caveman campfire, and people had to tell each other stuff to keep it going because they didn’t have as many ways to record things. It’s a really good learning tool to walk people through stuff a lot.
Jess Dewell 21:39 There’s always learning. And by the way, there that is, again, time, it takes time to institute a way to learn and then it takes time for that learning to occur. And then it takes time to shift the behaviors to get to where we want to go as a group. So that comes to another part of something to consider that goes into the true north of leading your organization, which is, even though it might be hard to understand how innovation impacts the outcome, we know it when it happens.
Tony Minessale 22:11 Focusing on innovation, I think it’s important because there’s like two different worlds, businesses sort of like art like it’s combinations of things, and they’re all the same, they kind of overlap and might be similar, but where you can succeed at business, you could still start the world’s best lemonade stand tomorrow, go make really good lemonade brands and compete with country time, it’s just lemonade more how to execute very well make a lot of money selling, or you invent something no one’s ever seen before, which is a whole different angle. And then you know, like different combinations and strengths and towers, you have to leverage. So I’ve always tried to stay relevant to innovation because we are trying to move left knee into the internet basically is easiest way to describe our mission. And it’s been a pretty long road. But there’s constant innovation happening. There’s a global community of people that we work with, to kind of help create the standards for that we implement the software to be able to do that. So it’s pretty important thing to, to stay on top of those things. So I think that is one of the biggest strengths that we have is worked on technology for so long that we have the ability to innovate ourselves, because it’s not necessary harm. If your business has, has a lot of value to it, you have a lot of stock because go acquire the thing you want. You know, I wish we had this at our company. Well, this by somebody that does it, you have those strategies also, in some of our strengths are, we don’t have to do that. Because we created the technology. There’s a line like no one ever created all their technology, no matter where you are like you’re probably on top of something somebody else made. But there’s a very tall mountain from the bottom Have I made every single thing myself to like, I just threw much stuff together. We’re somewhere anchored close to the bottom of the mountain, but not all the way that was like we didn’t make our own operating systems and internet in that house part of the technology. But we did make our own software stack and implementation of our entire network without really kind of leveraging to my outside things. But you always have something that we can just use, especially in this day and age is fast and start to outsource things that are not interesting to you as a company.
Jess Dewell 24:20 What we prioritize is what we value. And to know what we’re prioritizing aligns to what we value is to understand the unwritten part of the way work is done and make it more known bring it to the forefront.
Steve Simpson 24:35 This comes back to the definition of ugr. ugr stands for unwritten ground rules up as a people’s perceptions of this is the way we do things around you. And then when we’re working with people often say to them, what’s the keyword in that definition? And of course, it’s the word perceptions JSU and I can go into a room we watch the same political speech on TV and I walk outside. It’s the best speech Have you ever seen you walk outside, it’s the worst, we’ve just experienced the identical thing. But our life experiences our DNA, create a context where we are perceiving things totally differently. And that’s why I think surfacing the prevailing ugr, as is such a revelation because it is often a real surprise to leaders that people have the perception that they do. And by the way, going through this process is often confronting for leaders, because you’re going to get stuff back that you don’t want to know, people don’t go out. And the vast majority of people don’t go out and deliberately create negative UGA hours, but they exist, I say to people, so what’s the alternative to finding yourself? what’s the alternative? I think it’s a really valuable starting point to find out what people’s perceptions are. And then let’s work on it. If it’s true, that uJs Aria culture, then there are logically only two ways to change the culture only two ways. Number one, we got to change the behaviors that are causing people’s perceptions. Or we got to change the perceptions. And both of those are legitimate. It may be that five years ago, I had a legitimate ugr, which says around here, bosses don’t care about us. But all the buses have changed. There’s new people in leadership positions. But the ugr can lock in, they can be legacy ugr is that hang on almost despite who sits in the chair. So you know, we can change perceptions, we force people to consciously think about this stuff. But we also got to consider whether behaviors need to change as well.
Jess Dewell 26:34 We’ve all rushed to decisions now and again, and we all have decided what we need to be doing before we’ve asked anybody if that’s really what we should be doing. And that comes back to Are we willing to see more? Can we unlearn?
Carol Sanford 26:50 When I say field, we all know when we walk into a, say a party or a family there, we can walk in and we can sense immediately where the spirit is, of all the people in the room how they’ve positioned themselves to be there. We can tell when it’s got a really cranky feeling. And it could be everything from your sports team to last to enough people are unhappy about when you get there, there’s a kind of a grumpy field. In physics, it really is literally the energy field that you can’t measure or touch. It’s the same thing in business. And one way you could call what a business has you talked about for this event, company culture. company culture is the field that’s being generated by all the rituals you have the taboos you have, what you give status and importance to what you consider your guiding life. They are not directly about the business. They are the field in which the business takes place.
Announcer 27:55 We’ll be back to just in the Bold Business Podcast shortly. You can Fast Track Your Business with on-demand information curated to help you build a resilient business that achieves its goals. But why? Why is it so important that you take the steps to invest in yourself and your leadership team with subscriptions to this program, we all need to save time and get relevant and trustworthy information when we want it? This program will reduce your overwhelm and increase your opportunity with high-quality information on demand. This straightforward approach ensures this program answers the most important question what do you need to know to Fast Track Your Business? We answer this question by providing you a vast set of resources to help you work through complex challenges with exclusive articles, videos, and podcasts and access to Ask Jess Your Business Questions. You receive several benefits above and beyond what is available for free with a monthly subscription. To find out more visit Fast Track Your Business today.com. Let’s get back to the show.
Jess Dewell 29:00 We want a strong business picture. It helps us be more resilient, to bounce higher, to fail forward or faster to understand and know that something is up that we want to address. And that feeling that sense that something is up is the key to start looking more closely at things and what else could be observed both subjectively and objectively.
Steve Simpson 29:28 This comes back again to our aspirational culture, what’s the culture that we’re fighting for? Let me share this. We’ve got a five-step process for using uJs as the vehicle to understand and improve the culture. And the first step links back to what you’re mentioning here, Jess, and that is we call the first step envision, envision and behind the Envision steps. It’s what I think is a golden question. The question is this. What are the key cultural attributes we need in place for us to truly be successful? While making this a great place to work, put more simply, the question is, what does that culture need to look and feel like for us to truly be successful, or making this a great place to work? Now, our values may already answer that question. And if we’re strong on the values, and we’re keen on pushing them, the values can be your aspirational culture. But typically, I think values are not considered in that sort of context. My fear is that too often values are considered it with good intent. But it’s part of a planning process. And it’s sort of our the next job is coming up with their values, what do we want our values to be almost done on the side and independent of anything else? I think the whole notion of our aspirational culture and therefore our values, needs to be reframed as foundational upon which everything sits.
Jess Dewell 30:47 So much happens that way. We have our focus, and then we’re like, oh, yeah, what about this, and we bolted on? And then we add that in there kind of going together, and it works for a while. And it’s like, oh, yeah, we need that. And we bolt on another thing. Usually, when we’re trying to figure out how to keep the lights on, we’re trying to figure out how to grow. And more importantly than that, we’re trying to figure out, how do we truly serve our customers and make an impact in the world? There are things that we must choose over things. And so to Steve’s point, yes, it is foundational. And even if we just went with our eyes open the way we’re working in this stage of our business, here’s where we’re at the way that we’re working, here’s what’s been bolted on, here’s what was an afterthought, because we were ready to prioritize it after other work had been done. That’s what we’re navigating. That’s a true north, and it can be done. And we can still be supportive of each other and make great change.
Steve Simpson 31:47 To what extent are we supportive of one another? To what extent are people looking out for in caring about somebody who’s got grief in their personal life, or who has a very heavy workload right now and is really struggling to cope. So we might have part of our aspirational culture as support and care. If that’s a driving force, then we’ve got to all be tuned into that. And we recognize and support one another for it. But we also hold each other to account, maybe you didn’t step up when support was required. Or maybe you looked after your own interests at the expense of the team interests at the time. So it all comes back to the aspirational culture that we need to fight for. That’s absolutely key. Are We Fighting For an aspirational culture, not for the sake of being soft and flowery, but as being successful while making it a great place to work? Do we have clarity and commitment to that aspirational culture? Because in the absence of that, what are we fighting for?
Tony Minessale 32:47 And it takes a lot of work to know everything that exists, make sure that you’re not like trying to reinvent things that other people are doing. I think another one can be, especially when it’s completely in line is people’s emotions, because that’s one of the hardest things to deal with. And like, chat, you can’t tell someone’s mad at you or whatever. There’s not a magical font, sometimes these emojis or whatever, but a lot of times people like all the stuff, they’ll have normal workplace, you’re completely offending someone. And then they’re just nodding and laughing, they really hate you is even harder to do have a chat or phone videoconference. Or maybe make decisions you don’t think anyone cares about. But then they all get paranoid from it and that kind of stuff. So I think that those are like the harder things because you don’t even see it, you’re not seeing the people and they’re not probably, like, going to beat the door down telling you exactly what their feelings are. So like the human emotion, things already impossible practically, in any environment. Turn up the volume a little bit.
Jess Dewell 33:46 So however, we’re doing work, we have a way that the work gets done, we have the things that we say, to make the work get done, we have the things that we don’t say, and that we make the assumption that everybody knows by how that work gets done. And we still have bumpy paths. Consider that unlearning, specifically consider starting exactly where you’re at and taking into account what you’re hearing here from Carol, from Steve, from Tony, and their respective experiences, where they’re at and what they’re looking at. Because we don’t need to know everything. We just need to be able to keep the pulse.
Carol Sanford 34:21 Let me use the six things I use for we’re using assumptions because this will be fun to your listeners. The first one is fabrication. We don’t know so we make up something and we make up the bad stuff. He’s mad at me. Look what he said we make up the good stuff. Oh, this is going so well. That’s one of the major ways we’re binders that we make up stories when we have none. Second is identification. I like seeing me in a particular way. I like to be associated with this group of people. If you attack them, you’re attacking me. I’m so identified that I can’t see my son. The doctor is what makes me okay. My boss, the famous Amazon, Jeff Bezos, the third one is fear, which everyone knows. And fear really just means. I don’t know how to relate to this, I normally know a path, I know how to act, I can’t figure out what to do. And I will experience anxiety into fear. The fourth one is waste. And waste is when I am doing almost those or anything else that produces no good outcome. And everybody agrees it isn’t going to go anywhere like office gossip, and politics, waste, the waste, waste. The fifth one is related to your assumptions, it’s a little stronger the deeper side, which is attachment, I see the world in a certain way it’s fixed, it’s always been that way. It’s always going to be that way, I learned that it turns from my father, or university, wherever I got it is fix. The six one is solid cystic, or self-referential. Everything revolves around me, I can’t see you, I can’t see how I’m affecting you or what’s happening. All I cares about me. Those are the six things. And they’re part of my fifth book. The six was one we’re just starting with. The fifth one’s called the rigidity of life. And it’s about how we take on roles in the world that can transform the world in us if we understand the essence of each role.
Jess Dewell 36:28 The more we practice unlearning, the more we practice our awareness, the more we practice and understand what Carol was talking about, for the six things that she uses about assumptions will allow us to show up more fully and better understand our differences so that we can harness those to move forward, being in the middle sometimes of this hard work, this diligent work, this work that takes effort is important too.
Tony Minessale 36:54 There’s absolutely flip sides to that too, because you’re like, on the other side of it, you want to make sure that people feel responsible for what you want them to do. They feel comfortable protesting if it’s still the right time in the process, and then they accept when decisions are made. So it gets you there’s a little bit more work to do on that other side when you get more flexible with like letting people feel empowered because then they think that they’ll just do they’re right about everything they want to do. So then you have to also that’s why it’s important to draw lines like this is a discovery phase. So I would like to hear your feedback. Or if you feel strongly about something you shouldn’t feel afraid to tell anyone. But the words are spoken this decision is final, then that’s the key to stop protesting.
Jess Dewell 37:41 So how do you want to show up as a leader? How do you want to show up as an individual inside of this living organism? That’s an organization? How do you want to show up inside of this living organism that is a company that is making impact on the world? That’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about culture impacting the future of work.
Tony Minessale 38:01 One of the ways is, I guess, when people leave, for instance, that’s when you get the most harsh feedback that kind of helps you realize things and maybe because no one cares wants to quit with anyone thinks of them anymore. So they are honest, the most they ever would be. But we do try and encourage one on one, we’re going to probably go into biannually, almost like your chance to do that exit interview without having to quit is your shot. Like, I’m going to tell you what you did. And then now you can tell me what you think, right now, I don’t need to do this every day. But like, if there’s anything that you feel is going wrong with your job or whatever, like occasion, it’s a little bit of extra work. So it’s hard to keep up with it. But it’s very helpful because it kind of gives you the builds that trust. So I’m trying to see if we can do that more.
Jess Dewell 38:47 What do you want to do more, I appreciate Tony sharing the things that he’s working on within his organization right now, to set up the culture to set up the way work is done to set up the success of the company, the people in the company, and the delivery on the mission, by the way, woven all through that was accountability. Here’s a little bit more.
Steve Simpson 39:09 One aspect of this is are we as employees victims, or are we players? And again, I think the risk is that we take the victim mentality, I would say to leaders, you are primarily but not solely responsible for the culture. Now, that’s an important distinction. It’s really important. There is no doubt that leaders are primary players in creating the culture. So if you’re an employee right now, you need to know that that the leaders are primarily responsible for the culture, but not solely, and there is evidence of this we can have a good leader with an ordinary culture. Why because of the employees. We can have an ordinary leader with a good culture. Why because of the employees. So employees play their part, and they’re not entirely victims. That’s not to dispense responsibility for leaders, but that’s an important distinction. I think
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Jess Dewell 40:31 Let’s take a look at an example of culture in action.
Steve Simpson 40:36 So for all of us, the prospect of stealing money from the company that paises is so much about must not do so much of a requirement that it doesn’t even into our heads. We don’t go there. We don’t even think about it. So I say to people, what about our values? Is it a requirement? Or is it a recommendation is a must-not-do? Or is it assured do? I think and this is to your point about during the tough times what holds firm what is not negotiable, even during the toughest of times. And I think we can crank up our culture to occupy that space because so few doors. And by the way, COVID world I think culture is even more important now than ever before. Because each and every one of us has experienced a mixed set of emotions that include fear, anxiety, stress, uncertainty, it’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of how much over the past 18 months, if there’s ever been a time for organizations to focus on getting their culture right now is the time there’s no question about that, in my mind.
Jess Dewell 41:54 That root, that core, that thing that we find in each of ourselves in the teams that we are working on in the organizations we’re part of, and the communities that we live in, requires a little bit of self-understanding at each of those levels, that self-being an individual or being more than one individual. And that rooted pneus is what’s part of our true north it is the piece that guides us through the easy times when we might get a little lacks, and through the hard times when we might want to cut corners.
Carol Sanford 42:26 You know, a person or group, a company, a nation of all be able to understand themselves and create a shared language. So framework, let me say what I mean by framework. You can look at anything from a one-term system. If you’re far enough away from you say this the whole mostly in this country right now and around the world, we become two-term system thinker, right? Wrong, good-bad, my side, your side. And the news tries to give us both sides of that, which is nonsense. There’s nothing both about it. Because if you tried to actually figure out what any average there was, there is none, it’s individual. The third level you can go to is where I try and get people to at a minimum work from, which is learn to understand each of those things we talked about as function being and will, its motivation. If I look at you, Jess, and we had a conversation, I would say, you know, functionally I can see you’re, you’re really good at managing podcasts, which are difficult to do, you don’t know what I’m gonna do, or anybody else or what you’re listening to. But you’re managing functionally how to do that. In order to do that you have to manage your being safe. I am a contrarian and a half. And I interrupt people, I correct them. And it’s my job. And it’s a part of my essence, which is part of being you are a curious investigative Explorer. And that’s more of the beings that you bring is why now you can go do the function part. But let’s back up and look at the will part of each of us. So my will is what we talked about the beginning is to bring consciousness to humans to be able to self-assess effect. So what they do in the world and take better charge of those and I’m not trying to do that diagnosis. I’m just giving an example here is strongly driven by having people be able to understand their own affected how the business works, their assumptions, their blind spots, some of them are functional summer being in summer will things you are particularly interested in and individuals understanding how they work in group settings.
Jess Dewell 44:53 She’s right I am and about this podcast, the reality is that strong Business cultures are the future of work. They are multi-dimensional, Carol has shared that very clearly. And now she’s going to give us a model.
Carol Sanford 45:10 So models tell you what to do. You build as model airplane, this set of steps or fill in these boxes. And they’re pretty rigid. frameworks give you a place to ask questions. And if you’ve ever watched it, the home renovation programs, they’ll get a whole house and take it back to the studs back to the framework. And they walk in and say, now we have a clean slate, what do we need, and you’ll have some things that are there my system, so you can see I’m drawing them in the air all the time. So a three-term well-being and function are the individual in a context and a greater whole. And I can get much more complicated all up to an enneagram, which the book you’re reading I wrote is about nine of those, and how they make us society work. frameworks give us a way to think about something without a model. And to disrupt the model we choose, it comes through all paradigms. But more than form questions and to see the relationship see the moving. So when I built my little picture of three nested holes here and there, we no longer have you separate from the community and from the greater purpose, they give you relationship and a way to form questions.
Jess Dewell 46:29 And to take that model and understand it as it is, here are four cultural attributes that you may want to take stock of as Steve is talking about this in context of COVID.
Steve Simpson 46:43 Always arguing that in the COVID context, you can just about disregard any existing values you had, and replace them with for COVID, specific or COVID. Context-specific and the four that we were recommending were transparency, there has been fear about what’s happening to the business, what’s happening to me. So even if the answer is we don’t know, people still want to know that if that’s the answer, so transparency, agility, organizations have had to adapt and move very quickly. And particularly in larger organizations, if there is slow decision-making processes that needs to be overcome very, very quickly. The third is creativity and innovation, we need to tap into the creative minds of our people to think of new ways of doing things, better ways of doing things. By the way, in ugr, stocktakes, or inventory. We’ve often included the lead in sentence around here when someone comes up with a new idea. We have had people respond by writing literally these words, bosses, pinched the good ones, and use them as their own. Now, how tragic is that, and you get the fact that that is driving that person’s behavior. They are at a meeting and the boss is saying any ideas, I’ve got an idea I’m not going to share because that’s my ugr. Right. So transparency, agility, creativity, and innovation. And the fourth and most important, and this maybe addresses the issues you’re talking about. Yes. The fourth and most important is support and care, we need to have a real focus on supporting each other caring for one another, remembering that each of us has experienced fear, stress uncertainty over the past 18 months, we need to bring this to the fore I think it’s the most important.
Jess Dewell 48:26 Yeah, and using this commonality that we have globally, around those things we can remember as COVID starts to fade away, and other things show up. And our paths deviate from globally all working with one thing to globally working with many different paths, let’s remember about that care.
Carol Sanford 48:46 The thing that I’m doing which is the mirror side or it’s connected is you’re working at the level of the individual. I’m saying also you have to work at the level of the businesses dinette for that to happen because all of the individual contributors in the world can’t move a board of directors and executive, they can join companies which given the ratio, I want all organization to understand how they’ve designed business with hierarchies, but I don’t get rid of them. They don’t make them not matter. They design with rewards and recognition. We do get rid of that because it cripples human beings. They design them with delegation with performance review, I’ve got a list of 30 toxic practices in my third book, the rigidity business, I work on helping redesign all that. So the people you’re waking up to, hey, you’re choosing to be in this company, take a little internal locus of control, own up to it, get your act together, and get in there. That’s like the coach on the side of the field. You need that that makes a whole the people and the container the ecosystem. I would call it the industry because I work out that far. And then how does the business have to work to keep democracy and society healthy? I think we’re very in the same belief system.
Jess Dewell 50:15 Hey, you chose to work here. So own up to it, get your act together and get in there. That’s what we get to do with the role that we’re in when we’re at work, when we’re at home, when we’re in our communities, when we’re doing our hobbies, whatever that may be. And so to be able to do that, to really be able to do that, take some awareness, starting exactly where we’re at. And unlearning.
Carol Sanford 50:37 The unlearning part is mostly disrupting mental models which we got from somebody else. They’re untested, never known, and giving us frameworks that have no answers from anyone but to be created to live in every moment. So we’re disrupting the certainty but we’re also disrupting how we see ourselves in our role as we work. So the frameworks are the function piece, and you use frameworks to understand yourself, my well-being, and function, or am I being reactive? Is my ego in charge? Or am I on purpose with what I’m serving? I said, these frameworks are sacred ancient, they come through many different spiritual traditions, everything from Socrates to esoteric questions. Hindu Mahayana, Buddhism, I have an indigenous grandfather. So I learned some Iroquois ways of thinking, what you’re doing is sourcing from a different place, you’re sourcing from something that lifts you when the mental models which anchor you in current existence, and you can’t create or innovate from there, you can only innovate from a framework.
Jess Dewell 51:47 With all this in mind, understanding the importance of cultures in our organizations, yet, really understanding that strong business cultures are the future of work, that’s an important part, it’s an important part to understand that now we must know where to start at. Because we know exactly where we are at, we must use our awareness. And we must take the time to do what I call that messiness part, that just observing and seeing and making those small changes, to then make big change and understand what that impact is enough to not worry about the uncertainty because you know, you’re on the right direction, you’re following your company’s true north, it’s bold, to keep culture front and center, while leading your organization.
Tony Minessale 52:37 Focusing on innovation, I think it’s important because it’s a there’s like two different worlds. Businesses sort of like art, like it’s combinations of things, and they’re all the same, they kind of overlap and might be similar, but can succeed at business, you could still start the world’s best lemonade stand. Tomorrow, go make really good lemonade brands and compete with country time, it’s just lemonade more how to execute really well make a lot of money selling, or you invent something no one’s ever seen before, which is a whole different angle. And then, you know, like different combinations of strengths and powers, you have to leverage. So I’ve always tried to stay relevant to innovation, because we are trying to move to left me into the internet, basically, as the easiest way to describe our mission, it’s been a pretty long road. But there’s constant innovation happening. There’s a global community of people that we work with, to help create the standards for that we implement the software to be able to do that. So it’s pretty important thing to have half of those things. So I think that is one of the biggest strengths that we have is worked on technology for so long that we have the ability to innovate ourselves because it’s not necessary harm. If your business has, has a lot of value to it, you have a lot of stock because go acquire the things you want. You know, I wish we had this at our company, when I was a spy, somebody that does it, you have those strategies also. And some of our strengths are, we don’t have to do that. Because we created the technology. There’s a line like no one ever created all their technology, no matter where you are like you’re probably on top of something somebody else made. But there’s a very tall mountain from the bottom Have I made every single thing myself to like, I just threw much stuff together. So we’re somewhere anchored close to the bottom and mountain but now all the way that was like they make our own operating systems and internet and I found part of the technology. But we did make our own software stack and implementation of our entire network without really kind of leveraging to my outside things. But you always have something you can’t just use, especially in this day and age of SAS, you start to outsource things that are not interesting to you as a company.
Jess Dewell 54:43 It’s bold to keep the culture of your organization front and center.
Steve Simpson 54:49 If we had to find out what the current UGA hours are, there is some courage that’s required because you’re going to get back information that is difficult to accept. So there is some courage that is required to tackle this. Maybe that’s part of the reason that most organizations are going in this path. But there are massive rewards. We work with Kmart and not associated with the US Kmart, but a discount to spot department store nonetheless, it had literally lost money for 10 years in a row. Literally, they put a new leadership team in, headed up by the best leader ever met guy Roscoe is his name he loved uJs and uJs was used as the change platform for culture. uJs cannot be attributed to the turnaround entirely of came up. But it was one of four change platforms. It is now Australia’s leading retailer, by Australian standards, this is big, half a billion dollars in profit. Now, complete 180-degree turnaround. Again, not all attributed to culture change. But guyra CEO has said publicly in a conference had always had he was speaking in front of a retail audience. He said there’s only two things you got to worry about. Get your business model, right. And get your culture right. That’s it. So there is a business case for culture does this isn’t in the interest of just being soft and flowery and nice. There is a business case, a solid, strong business case, does that require some boldness 100%. But there’s some business benefits that can accrue from going in this path.
Jess Dewell 56:20 It’s bold to understand the influences that make up the essence of your organization.
Carol Sanford 56:27 The essence of the business comes from its founding, not modern-day, not every day. And you can’t even five or six founders who can answer that childhood question about what were you doing? The remember the speaks who you are today, that is deeply who we are. And when somebody says I’m going to be myself, they usually mean some personality thing. Like I’m kind, I’m gonna be my client. No, that’s not your essence. Your essence is like mine is to disrupt certainty. Don’t let people ever be stuck in stuckness. Because now they got assumptions, attachments, all that if you can do that you can be you. And when a company does that, like Apple has done that, because they have Steve Jobs essence. Now does he have personality characteristics? Well, like I worked with Steve Jobs when we’re putting his engineers to MBA, etc. They state where I taught that business and even Tim Cook, who took it over. He didn’t try and change it, he kept the essence his ego didn’t need to do that. If you can do that for your business, you can make the difference you want to make with your life. The company can lead to helping democracy work as well as a planet that’s healthy and works. What we’re doing that is own we’re building on one another. We’re not putting our egos stamp in our legacy. I am part of a lineage that will say what’s your legacy, and I said to be a better part of the lineage. It’s not about what I leave behind.
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