Experimenting towards a desired team culture

My Inquisition co-founder  Vincent Hofmann  skillfully re-arranging stickies :)

My Inquisition co-founder Vincent Hofmann skillfully re-arranging stickies :)

In many organisations, culture is something that just happens, i.e. there is little in the way of intended behaviours or actions, the culmination of which determines its culture.

In our company, as in many others, the initial culture was bedded down by the founders then as more people joined us, an extension of our approach to work and life took on interesting turns but almost always within the realm of its beginnings. Fortunately, we were more-or-less on a desirable path where we embrace open communication and agility but this is hardly the norm, as we have discovered repeatedly.

A large part of the work we have taken on has involved helping teams who find themselves in troubling times where there is lack of alignment, rapid team growth, broken communications, amongst other issues, leading to some level of dissatisfaction at work and interpersonal politics. More often than not, the issues are known but teams feel helpless in how to resolve them beyond superficial culture interventions.

Traditional team building efforts may build a strong social layer but seldom reach the depths of how work is done. We bias towards action in all our work and this type of challenge is no different for us.

Inspired by our problem-solving triumvirate — Lean, Agile and Design — we create opportunities for teams to design the change they need to address long-standing issues in a practical manner, by experimentation. As believers in change that is not imposed but rather inclusively crafted by the people to whom it will happen, we saw this as a natural approach to energise teams and get their buy-in for culture that they care about because they live it.

Our experiences in these engagements have been quite successful, with teams taking on small experiments then reflecting on them in collaborative ways not experienced before in the way they work. It has also resulted in a mind shift on what is possible within their teams (and inter-team) beyond designing aspects of their culture to areas such as product and service design, all driven by strong purpose made evident to them in our sessions and subsequently put to action.

This work has not only been beneficial to our client teams but it has also helped our own team feel pride at having a positive impact on others on a personal and team level, satisfying our deep need to enable others to fulfill their potential at work/life.

If any of the above interests you, whether to discuss the topic further or to elevate your team, get in touch — crew@inquisition.co.za