Wow, what a great conversation with host Mike Sedam of Crucial Talks! We covered so much territory in just over half an hour:from the individual, team, and organization levels of scale, how Design of Work Experience (DOWE) is different from case studies, the importance of culture and experiences, human nature, meaningfulness at work, to untapped potential in organizations. Give it a listen.
To accompany the new video on the landing page, here is a new downloadable brochure for you to read and share! Get to know Co.-today.
Co.- joined Adrian Swinscoe on his RARE Business Podcast to discuss why design thinking is part of Design of Work Experience's approach to culture work: among a number of reasons, it's people-centered, achieved through learning, iterative, experiential and necessary for good change management. We also touched on how DOWE is a form of organizational mindfulness. In the same way individuals practice this, organizations can pay attention to the present in ways that could positively impact their future. Adrian also published a companion summary article to this podcast on Customer Think, which has garnered a number of views and shares across social media.
Being physically safe at work should be a given, but unfortunately it isn't. What's more, it's not just about physical safety, but also psychological safety and well being. Does your organization do enough to keep people safe?
Remember this if you want an engaged workforce: safety > threat. Without this, people will operate in fear of negative consequences. That, in turn, creates the conditions for an unhealthy workplace and matching business results. Paradoxically, THIS creates MORE RISK for organizations.
Find out why creating a culture of safety isn't enough in Co.-Design of Work Experience's interview with Safety and Health Practitioner, and while you are at it, read the blog post about why there's no such thing as cherry picking A Culture of "This or That."
Here's a Co.- interview for the culture cynics - the question for them, either now or in the future, is: "How's that working out for you?"
Design of Work Experience (DOWE) is for those that are:
1) open to trying different things to get different results
2) care about people & culture
There may be lots of valid reasons and experiences that lead to cynicism about culture, but the best cynics are the ones who are open-minded.
My interview with Tayo Rockson, MBA on As Told by Nomads #podcast is LIVE!! So many topics covered, including my upbringing as a child of immigrants, development of my cultural identity, then of course the importance of managing organizational culture and how Design of Work Experience (DOWE) can help.
I recently joined Swag Sam of What Up Silicon Valley on his podcast, Brand Hero. The discussion centered around the importance and alignment between culture and brand.
The day has finally arrived and I can't wait for you to see this book! I HAVE LOTS TO SHARE:
Check out a sample chapter. The Kindle version of the book is available now for immediate reading! For those that want a hard copy through Amazon, we are *out of stock* but you can still order.
Thanks to Linda Naiman of Creativity At Work, Culture Your Culture is featured on Inc.com. Take a look! While you are at it, read her other posts as well. They're all great!
On this special day, I have some thoughts. Keep reading.
Who Cares? Why Should Anyone Care?
Well, I hope some people do. That’s because this book was written as a humble contribution toward making work-life meaningful for everyone. It was born out of a frustration that too many work cultures have been blamed for corporate scandals, too many are unhappy in their current employment when they don’t have to be, and too many businesses fall short because they fail to maximize the potential in their people. Another pet peeve: all those companies that tout the importance of culture with words, not actions. We know we can do better, because there are examples out there of companies that do. Some of us have been lucky enough to experience our best jobs ever, if only temporarily. The strength of a business is determined by its people, and creating workplaces where they thrive is every organization’s responsibility. Design of Work Experience (DOWE), as explained in this book, provides the much-needed step by step, how-to for creating exemplary cultures and experiences at work. If people and culture are important to your organization, then you should care.
Tell Me More About the Book
I spent a lot of time writing it, so I’ll just share the description you’ll see on Amazon:
Organizational culture isn't just a hot topic-it's an untapped asset and potential liability for all businesses. And yet, for all its potential to make or break, few know how to manage cultures with proficiency. Culture Your Culture: Innovating Experiences @Work provides the much-needed "how-to" with Design of Work Experience (DOWE). Tapping into human-centered design, interdisciplinary innovation concepts, and other research, this leading edge approach partners employees and their employers in unprecedented ways to co-create solutions and differentiating experiences that are customized, relevant, and profoundly impactful to the organizations for which they are intended-all while building employee engagement, learning agility, and capability.
Be open to changing mindsets, for this is not your typical business book. Part-business case, part-instructional, and part-commentary, the guidance offered here puts your organization--not some detached case studies-at the center to envision how DOWE can help you design solutions and experiences unique to your context. Culture will no longer be esoteric or intangible, but overt, meaningful, fully leveraged, and truly experienced. No more hacking through trial and error to a culture that lacks sustainability. We can practice the management of culture and organizational change through lived experiences, with intention, rigor, and discipline.
Leaders, managers, teams, and employees alike will benefit from understanding the need for this approach, how it's defined, why it works, and what to do to successfully tackle business challenges and positively influence lives with this innovative model-if you are willing to do the work to get there.
I Want to Know More about DOWE
As an introduction, the DOWE process is comprised of four main components: the combination of DESIGN and CHANGE enabled by CAPABILITY and ENGAGEMENT. Those are further broken down into 5 key phases (UNDERSTAND, CREATE & LEARN, DECIDE, PLAN, and IMPLEMENT). Every phase is organized as a series of iterative learning loops, each with its own specific set of activities that reflect the nonlinear, but progressive nature of the process.
Here’s an overview:
The best way to really get to know DOWE is to do it, but reading the book’s a good start.
A Bit More About Myself (If You Don’t Know Me)
I went to Bryn Mawr for my undergraduate degree in Ethnic and Culture Studies, then Columbia University’s Organization and Leadership program for a MA in Social Organizational Psychology. My career spans 20 years. I enjoyed success as a corporate executive before pursuing a ‘portfolio career’ comprised of research, writing, consulting, teaching/speaking, and creative pursuits. I’ve worked across multiple industries and developed, led, and implemented numerous organizational initiatives around the globe. I worked hard to be a strategic leader who gets things done. Today, I’m an East Coast transplant to Silicon Valley (via Ireland and the Midwest) and am principal of Co.-Design of Work Experience, where I enable organizations with innovative approaches and customized solutions for intimidating challenges. Focus areas include culture, organizational change, and people strategies.
What I Put Into It
Everything. All of me. My knowledge, my experience, my passion, my research—even my personal life—my family gets a lot of credit for this too. Writing a book has been the longest, hardest project of my entire career. It required a degree of persistence that I never expected (nor realized I had). The project had many starts and stops, some of which frustrated me to no end. At times it felt like almost everything that could go wrong, did. I’m not a patient person to begin with, and I was forced to be (painfully) patient. This manuscript went through countless versions and edits. I worked with two different publishers and 6 different editors over the course of 4 years. This book has been through the wringer so that the best version is available for its readers.
What I Need From You
Help me put some good out into the world.
Check out the book. Reach out to me. Tell people about it. Consider a DOWE initiative.
Thanks for reading and joining me on this journey!
Your company has had some bad press lately. The CEO’s been called to a congressional hearing. Perhaps a recall or disappointing results led to a drop in stock price. Or maybe a respected leader (and many others) left the company. Or a bad leader stayed too long. Whatever the reason, your employees aren’t happy. Many organizations just buckle down and hope it passes. Sometimes they try and address the cause, but fail to do much else. Results are hit or miss. Others don’t know what to do.
When this happens, the company should care enough to take intentional, strategic action because here’s what’s really going on: for starters, that thing and the employees’ feelings about it are occupying mental space. It’s distracting from their focus on work, impacting productivity, straining relationships, and ultimately hurting business results. By now, you’ve also got a lot of negative mojo out there and it’s spreading through news, rumor, and gossip. That continually depletes the emotional bank accounts Stephen Covey wrote about in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Tapping people’s reserves means they are losing their resilience—that is, their ability to bounce back and recover quickly. Even worse, for some people (and depending on the severity of the situation), the company has broken a psychological contract. The “this isn’t what I signed up for” violated your employees’ expectations of their job and that needs to be renewed or renegotiated. With no improvement in sight, they will otherwise get frustrated and leave.
Simply addressing the cause of the strife is not enough because of these reverberating effects. You can’t wait, and it won’t pass. The longer-term consequence of this climate will influence people’s behaviors. Patterns of behaviors and their associated interactions will impact culture overall. Before you know it, the company evolves to an undesirable version of itself.
You can do something about it. Design of Work Experience (DOWE)“partners employees with their employers to co-create customized and meaningful work experiences that set the conditions for people and business to thrive.” As a methodology to create, affect, and sustain culture, DOWE:
The running theme throughout DOWE is engagement. Especially in difficult times, a company must involve their employees more deeply and work to bring the company even closer. Building walls, practicing avoidance, or denying the reality of the situation only serves to worsen the damage done. With DOWE, you are course-correcting and creating circumstances for different outcomes in the future. This gives life to people, not drains it.
Look for the upcoming book, Culture Your Culture: Innovating Experiences @Work.
I’ve been beating the drum about the role of culture in mergers and acquisitions since graduate school, when I worked on a deep dive into the 2001 HP-Compaq deal and saw just how “largely incompatible” (my words) the two cultures were. Even then, 18 months after the closing, the culture clash was evident. All employees felt the impact regardless of their legacy employer. Three years later, the headline was, “Why Carly Fiorina’s Big Bet is Failing.” In 2016, it was “Worst Tech Mergers and Acquisitions: HP and Compaq.” One could argue some sort of vendetta keeps bringing this particular deal back into the dialogue. Another explanation is that the effect has been long lasting and there’s a lesson to be learned here. This particular merger failed for a number of reasons, but low and behold culture has been named as one of them (see examples here and here). This merger is one of many who experienced the culture clash. I would even go so far as to argue that all mergers go through it because every organization has its own unique people, context, and culture regardless of all the “synergies” between two parties. Bringing them together will never be a seamless fit, but intentionally managing it will make a difference. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to M&A and culture, and how Design of Work Experience (DOWE) can help you navigate through it all.
Make culture a part of due diligence. If every organization is different and a culture clash between two entities merging into one is inevitable, then doing this should be a given. Evaluating culture is just as important as looking through the books, IP, assets, business operations, etc. as part of due diligence. For each organization, determine where and to what degree these differences exist through DOWE’s Culture Study before the decision to merge or acquire. Are there cultural strengths to leverage on both sides? Does the buyer actually want to acquire the culture for sale? Are there red flags that could signal a deal breaker? This helps the two sides to go into their new world with eyes wide open.
Forge a new shared vision and culture. During the highest peaks of M&A activity, the focus isn’t typically on the aftermath—it’s all about getting the deal done from a legal and regulatory standpoint. This myopic view leaves organizations ill prepared for the fall-out, despite the fact that all employees care about is what happens to them afterwards. Instead of having two cultures forge a battle royale or see one culture cannibalize the other, partner with your employees using DOWE. You’ll be able to articulate a new vision and culture as well as design new employment experiences that reflect them. Create a new identity that employees from both sides are proud to join. Instead of a mass exodus of talent, you might just garner enough attention to attract new talent at a time when business performance is so critical.
Deploy Change Management early and continually. Use of full-on change management is shockingly low during business as usual, despite the need. After all, change is constant in business. Something as huge as a merger or acquisition makes disciplined, well strategized and executed change management an imperative. With the culture studies in hand, DOWE helps organizations determine the distance and the path from the current to the future state. This brings people along for the journey as engaged collaborators throughout the integration. Isn’t that preferred over force-feeding the new state with all the pain that comes with disengagement and attrition of your best talent?
Sustain Changes. If you’ve gone through all the trouble, then you’d want to make sure your changes stick for as long as you need them. The positive aspects of the new vision, culture, and experiences post-merger need to be the new norm. The way to do that is to continue managing change well past integration. The DOWE process creates the opportunity to ensure that enough is done to set the conditions, support them systematically, and measure progress.
So before you go into your next merger or acquisition, think about how you want history to remember it. Then consider how these steps might help you. Thanks for reading!
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