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!
Like so many others, I’ve lost sleep over everything that’s been happening. I can’t even wrap my head around all this suffering. None of this is acceptable to me.
In the midst of all this, I’m clinging on to my faith and looking for signs of hope. Positive action must be taken in a negative world. There’s one thing we can all do:
GOOD things we are GOOD at for the greater GOOD.
We are wonderfully different from one another, gifted in so many ways. And yet, we are all connected in this shared world. We, collectively, individually, continually, and simultaneously, have to do so much good in our lives that the bad will never prevail. Whether we come from a place of privilege, being blessed, or having disadvantages, we can all affect this world for the better with our unique gifts and calling. This isn’t aspirational. It’s fact.
I know why I do what I do. These recent times have given us many more reasons on top of that. As much as we want to forget that which makes us uncomfortable, we need to honor our brothers and sisters and preserve our own humanity through our good deeds. Never losing attention to this will make sure we do that.
Won’t you join me?
Shame on me. I totally underestimated how much work writing a book would be, and despite working pretty regularly on it the last two years, I found the last twelve months required many days sitting at the computer for hours on end.
One day, I went to disconnect my phone from its charger and BAM! The muscles in my neck seized up with a massive cramp I couldn’t get out. I desperately searched for a chiropractor to see me right away. He stabilized it, but the damage had been done. It would take weeks to recover.
Despite the pain, stiffness, and lack of mobility, I decided to attend an event at a “unicorn” company I was invited to by a new and important network contact. I’m usually pretty transparent, but instinct kicked in that night and suddenly I felt like an injured animal in the Serengeti. If I showed any weakness, there was this irrational fear that somehow I would be devoured. So I told no one and pretended nothing was amiss, but boy did I suffer.
In retrospect, I realize that this ergonomic injury was completely preventable. In a way, I kind of deserved it. After all, I hunched over this small laptop and let my muscles slowly weaken over time. How could I be so stupid? This was probably an issue years in the making, only delayed by the fact that I previously worked in offices where I had a ton of meetings that required walking and time away from my computer. Let my pain be a lesson. I beseech you to raise your monitor to eye level, sit up in your chair (or better yet, get a standing desk), minimize any stress on your muscles, and take frequent breaks. Listen to your body—it will send signals if you are paying attention. My friend posted this on Facebook this morning: “If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream.” That screaming--a.k.a. pain--is not just for old folks, people. Ergonomic injuries could happen to you. It’s just a matter of time.
Companies—if you care about work environment, help your employees practice work safely. Prevent work-related injuries from your warehouses to your offices. It will go a long way in creating a healthy and productive workforce, I promise.
I'm actually writing and back dating this two weeks after the fact because it has taken me this long to actually realize and come to terms with this milestone (add business travel last week too). On April 29, 2015, I passed in my entire manuscript to my publisher. What a grueling, yet meaningful experience. A book project is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, but one I would always encourage others to try. The last six months of working sometimes six, sometimes seven days a week is what it took to get the job done. Day-to-day progress seemed slow but somehow each chapter was completed in its due course. There's still a lot more work to do--editing through all the board reviews, graphics, appendix, endnotes, index, etc...They all seem much less overwhelming now that the manuscript is submitted. I'm not big about celebrating my own personal accomplishments, but this post is one way to do it. Since I have shared so much of this writing journey with you, the least I could do was to finish it. Breathing a huge sigh of relief now, hopefully not too prematurely!
So true. Learning this lesson (again) serves as a great reminder. As much as people want to see and know where things are going, there is no way to appreciate certain journeys until you've experienced them first-hand. There is no denying that learning by doing is profound. As I quoted one of my clients in the book, "I don't think any amount of preparation ahead of time would have made a difference. We couldn't know how deep it was going to go until we got there."
The challenge with all iteration, regardless of topic or application, is persistence. This doesn't come easy to anyone, me included. I do it because I know it is a key differentiator--it increases the chances of success. The majority of everyone else will opt out early. I suppose that's why marketing calls it "satisficing" since requires some sort of sacrifice on one's part. Choose your poison: either sacrifice your comfort level, or sacrifice the potential result. I choose the former in favor of (hopefully) better results. Will you join me?
I've been documenting "moments" of my writing process as a personal ethnography of sorts. For me, the process has been just as important as the book itself will be. I consider myself a lifelong learner--and I've learned so much about research, writing, the publishing process, and even myself. The typing of the keyboard has forced me to organize and hone my thoughts, and the iterative process has given me lots and lots of practice. What a great personal development opportunity this has been. This pic is one of my favorites so far--it reminds me that you can't always choose the moments that ideas come to you. Sometimes it comes in the middle of the night, and I had better take advantage of getting them down because it won't be there in the morning! Having coached others to take opportunities at seemingly inopportune moments, I am happily eating my own advice.
How to Pick the Right Consultant For Your Organization
I’m the first to say that I’m not the right consultant for every project. I can help you to find the right one if that is the case, however. Prior to Co.-, I spent 15 years either interacting with and/or hiring all kinds of consultants for my employers. I learned a lot about the field from first-hand experience. Besides budget constraints, another challenge is the sheer magnitude of the resources available. There is every flavor and quality out there, which makes selection an overwhelming task. Perhaps that’s why companies get lazy and go with their “usual suspects” (a.k.a. preferred vendors), regardless of whether they are the appropriate firm for the job. They miss a lot of opportunities that way. Choosing the right consultant maximizes the company’s investment. The wrong one could waste time, money, and even jeopardize your project.
The biggest takeaway from my experience with hiring consultants is to find the right match. Like every big challenge, you start by digging in and building from there. There’s a lot to consider, so to save you time and maybe even some heartache, here are my top 3:
Capability. A consultant’s ability to utilize their experience, resourcefulness, and knowledge to create positive impact in your organization is how I define capability. It is not defined by “been there, done that.” First of all, there is never the exact same situation because everything happens in its own, unique context. Second, just because someone has encountered a similar situation by chance doesn’t mean that they are any good at it. If they did the same exact things from one context to another, they would risk failure by ignoring critical nuances. Capability is all about being able to see the situation for what it is, what it needs on all levels (strategically and tactically), and figuring out how to get your organization where it has to go. It also means getting things done, and done well. If a consultant can do all this across a number of different/adjacent topic areas and make the connections along the way, then they are capable. How do you know? You yourself are actually the best gauge for it. If, through the course of initial discussions, the consultant fails to listen, ask great questions, engender trust and/or doesn’t convince you of an approach, then they aren’t right for you. Even if they are “capable” and you are the close-minded one, it’s not a match. No need for hard feelings—simply come to that conclusion together and move on.
Partnership. This refers to the relationship that the consultant will have with your organization. Figure out what kind of partnership you desire, then consider: Is it one based on trust and open communication? Is it one directional? Transactional? Formal? Informal? Do values line up in thoughts and actions? As you look to select the right partner, consider your organization and the consultant(s) work style(s). How do you foresee and describe the working dynamic? Again, this is not about who is good or bad, right or wrong—it’s about finding the right match. There are highly qualified experts I did not hire because they would behave like “a bull in a china shop,” while others would not challenge the organization enough. I didn’t pick one firm because they were only looking to dump content on us and run. I needed collaboration with someone who was savvy enough to influence provocative change. You may have to go through a lot of consultants before you find your match. Sometimes you might have to break the work up into smaller chunks in your search for the right resources. It’s worth the investment up front, before the work starts.
Network. You get what the consultant has to offer when it comes to their capability. However, knowing that there is always a chance for unforeseen needs, changes in direction, and/or expansion of work, a consultant’s network can be important as well. Their ability to connect you to different ideas, resources, and/or people can save you a lot of time when you don’t have any to spare in the middle of an initiative. A consultant caught up in their own little world means their usefulness to you is limited. Find someone who is out there, knows what’s happening, and connects with a lot of people.
It’s worth putting in the effort up front to connect your need with the right resource. I’ve seen too many relationships sour because of mismatches, but I also know that when it’s right, it’s magic. My time as a “buyer” has certainly influenced my approach as a “seller” today. I don’t go into every new relationship expecting a contract. I focus on building meaningful relationships. Along the way, I have been lucky enough to partner with some really great clients. I wish great matches for you too.
Image Credit: Thrice Around the Block
Finally, the old blog is migrated to its new home, and with it comes a fresh start. I first started blogging when I was pondering where I wanted to go with my career. Working in a high-stress job up to 70 hours a week was burning me out. The blog was a way for me to set aside time to appreciate inspiring and interesting ideas. It kept me sane, and at times was my life preserver. Case in point: my GRACIOUS DISAPPOINTMENTS entry unknowingly prepared me for one of the worst days I’ve ever experienced at work. Had I not written that blog post, I would have reacted very differently (and negatively) to what happened. For that, I’m very grateful.
Today, I’m worlds away from that time of my life. I am working a portfolio career comprised of my favorite activities: research/writing, consulting, teaching/speaking, and creative pursuits. My purpose for blogging now is different. While still good for the soul, it is also a way to interact with the world. I will not only continue to share inspiring ideas, but will also expand my coverage to include my personal experiences, people and organizations I encounter, and some ideas of my own. I’ve got a running list of upcoming topics to write about, so there’s lots more to come. Stay tuned!
A place to share interesting concepts that will inspire, spread, and/or apply new ideas. This page is dedicated to sharing my twitter feed, announcements, and blog posts.