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Permission to Speak – Leadership Blog – Kelly Vandever Interviews Jamie Notter on Company Culture & Systems Thinking in the Workplace


Permission to Speak

Leadership Video Blog & Podcast

Hosted by Leadership Communications Expert Kelly Vandever

Permission to Speak is the video blog and podcast that loiters at the intersections of leaders who want their people to speak up, technology that facilitates connections, and results that serve an organization’s higher purpose.

Our guest for this episode:  Jamie Notter

Topics Discussed:

  • Transparency in the workplace
  • Agility for organizations
  • System dynamics
  • Systems thinking
  • People’s resistance to change
  • People don’t just resist change
  • They resist doing things they think are stupid
  • They resist doing things that they think are against their own interest
  • People resist things that don’t make sense
  • Learn to look at the system to see where breakdowns could be impacting the results you want to get
  • Transformation of leadership
  • Upgrading the operating system we call work
  • Management was invented when we discovered what engineering is
  • The industrial revolution put people to work doing things that made them feel less human
  • The new revolution in work is about bringing humanity into the workplace
  • Build work around the principles that make us human
  • Bringing humanity to the workplace is much more about culture
  • See Jamie’s book Humanize: How People Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World for more information
  • Transparency, sharing information and making information available, can be one of the most powerful aspects of culture but it’s also one that makes people most scared because of the vulnerability.
  • For example, making information available leads to better decision making
  • Illuminating the systemic breakdowns from lack of transparency can help an organization identify what needs to change and why it will benefit the organization
  • Agility, the ability of a culture to see an opportunity and then shift and go towards it, is another important aspect of culture
  • Transparency and agility appear to be linked, waiting for more research on that to confirm the connection
  • Transparency tends to be a chicken-and-egg thing, it’s about trust
  • One way to build transparency is to quickly create an opportunity to experiment around transparency. Create a sandbox with some boundaries.  Easier to let people have a voice when we put boundaries around it.
  • If you build into your process “these behaviors help enable our success,” the ability to give voice works out because they see the benefit, they see how it brings the organization success.
  • Leaders need to step up and lead the way with regards to transparency
  • Easier with technology to be more transparent within large organizations, like many do with Yammer
  • Agility harder for large organizations
  • Example of Morning Star and their self-management
  • To be agile, large organizations need to figure out how to act small
  • The Workplace Genome culture assessment tool
  • Culture analytics
  • Companies in transitions usually care about culture most (new CEO, rapid growth, mergers and acquisitions, etc.)
  • When you’re in transition, you have to go on a new path
  • To change the culture, you need to move in the new direction in ways that are real and permanent. Find some low hanging fruit, make changes that are fast and visible.  But also address long term infrastructure changes too.  Need to make both short term and long term changes at the same time.
  • Measuring the culture as it is without judgement
  • There is a judgement about culture, but comes from the client evaluating the culture with respect to what works for your business and drives your success
  • What are your superpowers as an organization?
  • Pulling out your own superpower

Questions Answered:

  • How do you adjust company culture following a merger or an acquisition?
  • How can company culture change when a new CEO takes over?
  • How do you maintain your great company culture through rapid growth?
  • How is corporate culture effected by changes in the organization?
  • Is there a one right way to do company culture?
  • Why is transparency important to organizations?
  • How does my work team get better results?
  • What is systems thinking?
  • How does systems thinking apply in the workplace?
  • How do we humanize the workplace?

Books Recommended:

When the Millennials Take Over:  Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business

Humanize:  How People Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World