A male participant speaking among other meeting participants

Crowdsourcing Culture Change

My first week at Temple has been great. Everyone has been very welcoming and I loved getting to meet individual team members and hearing their ideas. Many of the ideas that I heard this week, and also in the weeks before I started, were about changing the culture.

Establishing a supportive and innovative culture is my most important job as a leader.  It is also one of the most challenging things to do. This is not something any one person can do alone. Each group defines its culture together, either intentionally or unintentionally.

This week, we started to intentionally create a new culture together by crowd sourcing ideas from the entire Computer Services team. I invited everyone to come to a meeting and we did two liberating structure exercises to identify the top things that the team would like to change.

The first exercise was to identify what we should STOP doing. We did this by having each person in the room design the most demotivating work environment that could imagine. The power of asking the opposite of what you want to achieve is that it is unexpected and opens the thinking of the group. The second step of this exercise was to identify which demotivating things we were currently doing as a team. The final step was to prioritize the top two things we would like to stop, with a concrete first step on moving forward. Each step of the exercise is done by having each individual do their own thinking, then share their thoughts with one other person at their table, then discuss the ideas as a table before sharing their ideas with the entire group.

The report out from the tables was fun and it was very clear immediately that the team wanted  to stop requiring salaried employees to clock in and out each day,

The second half of our all team meeting was to generate bold ideas of what we could do. This exercise is done by having each person generate one bold idea of how to make the culture of the team better with the first step that they would take to make their idea happen.  The ideas are written on one side of an index card. Then everyone in the room stands up, exchanges cards and rates others’ ideas on a scale from 1-5, with 5 representing a terrific idea that they could fully support.

This exercise turned out to be a little chaotic with so many people in the room. While not perfect, the exercise did work and the group generated several ideas that got top ratings.

Like the first exercise, the majority of the ideas centered around one theme. The team really wanted to establish flexible work schedule options, including telecommuting. This is something that is important to me as well and we will work together to define guidelines for the team in the coming month.

I have already taken concrete steps based on the suggestions from the meeting. Eliminating clocking in and out for salaried employees was an easy thing to accomplish which I did by sending out an email at the end of the week. One team member tweeted about clocking out for the last time, which made me smile.

We will all meet again next month and will assess the progress that we have made on the creating more flexible schedules for the team. We will also work together on other aspects of the culture.

My challenge for you this week is to think about the culture that you are either intentionally or unintentionally creating in your team and identify if it is the culture you want. If it isn’t, think about how you can involve the entire team to start to shape your culture more intentionally together.

Photo taken by ITU pictures – https://www.flickr.com/photos/itupictures/albums/72157634087412090

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