Corporate Culture: How Mindful Are We Of What We Create?

\"\"What is essential is invisible to the eye.\’ – Antoine de Saint – Exupery

In this blog, I champion for the importance of teams\’ development – inward and outward.

What is it that makes me look forward to working with certain teams, more than others? What experiences do I have with them, that makes it so easy to move into action, seamlessly, with trust and goodwill?

Is it the context and environment we are in, the way we are organized, or the processes we go through together? Perhaps, for a team committed to generating results, the tangibles (having systems, procedures and resources) in place is vital. But is it enough? Personally, I am becoming increasingly aware of how developing healthy cultures in teams and organizations is vital for healthy work environments and to produce high performance teams.

In this blog, the intention is to reflect on the importance taking time to build teams’ and organizations’ inner cultures, and nourishing teams’ inner growth and learning.

What is Culture within Organizations?

According to Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson*, ‘culture is to a organization as mindset is to an individual. Culture is the way of being of the organization – its character or personality.

Within culture lie the company’s core values, its norms and operating principles, and its myths and stories. It determines what types of individual behaviours are acceptable or not, and shapes the behaviours and style exhibited by the organization in the marketplace. Culture infuses ‘how work gets done around here’ and how the organization behaves in relation to its customers. Culture is the interior dimension of the collective.’

Being Learning Oriented: Inwardly

A typical indicator of culture is the team’s orientation to learning. When together, how do team members learn? How is individual learning shared collectively? Research shows that high performing teams are learning oriented. They commit to finding time to do that because they believe they will be able to develop and grow together.

It is believed that when we shift our thinking, assumptions and awareness (the interior), and then do it collectively, what is around us can shift. A culture is built within a group, it cannot depend upon one person only.

We can refer to a team’s inner growth, which Jelle Troelstra defines as ‘the growing ability to connect what is within us, to that which surrounds us and vice versa. It is a lifelong widening process, a gradual process of awakening in which the consciousness of one’s being deepens and one’s personality refines, resulting in:

  • a widened outlook on life and the awareness of the interconnectedness of life,
  • an interested attitude towards others and the ability to hold multiple perspectives,
  • a respectful and loving conduct and engaged action, sourced from within.

Investing in a team’s inner culture, he adds, is an organizational culture, which sustains inner growth, for ourselves and others, including clients and partners.

Why Spend Time on this?

In the hustle and bustle of life, we may tend to forget about one’ own growth. We need space for that. As Jelle Troelstra explains, ‘one needs to work on one’s inner growth, and if one really wishes to impact in our work, it needs to come within.’

Sustaining a Team’s Inner Culture

I am learning from my work with colleagues from Tong Schraa-Liu & Partners (TSLP), and how our team’s inner culture is sustained, through:

  • Holding bi-monthly meetings where we reflect on our new insights, and what we have learned from our work. These meetings are free from the usual logistical agenda, and points of a logistical nature. The main purpose is to come together to learn,
  • Reminding ourselves and others what our ideals and intentions are, as we embark in new work,
  • Sharing articles on new ideas,
  • Looking for new experiences and learning.

In our regular meetings, we share personal shifts we have experienced, A-ha moments and what we are grappling together.  We share topics or personal dilemmas with colleagues, so that team members can act as a Sounding Board.

What I experience is that when we are together, we create a collective intelligence that is much more than the wisdom generated from the individual. I am also grateful for the sense of trust and appreciation that keeps on growing amongst eachother.

Regarding your work in teams, and how you learn together, how do you learn together? And how do you deepen relationships?

*Dean Anderson, Linda Ackerman Anderson, ‘Beyond Change Management: How to Achieve Breakthrough Results through Conscious Change Leadership.’

Photo: Andy Goldsworth.