Sunday, June 05, 2011

One Story At A Time

The fact that an article that was written in June of 2009 has just found its way to my consciousness is probably as good an indicator as anything in terms of how unorganized and not on top of things I am.

I have no excuse, however, if I were to try to conjure one  up it would be that I am not technologically proficient enough to get my information filters properly in place and as a result, if whatever it is does not show up above the fold in Google News, it stands little chance of surfacing in my world.

Okay, maybe a little bit overstated, but at least it will give you some idea of the "issues" I have in trying to time manage between dealing with the day to day goings on at work and wanting to more about other things that tweak my interest.

In any event, the awakening to the soon to be two year old piece came about because I am a member of a LinkedIn group started by Karen Armon who, among the many interests that spring from her MarketOne Executive consultancy, also has  hosted and facilitated ExecuNet networking events in the Denver metro area for a number of years.

The article she had posted in her LI MarketOne Executive Group was one by management guru Peter Bergman which appeared in the online HBS business review- as indicated nearly two years ago. The piece is called A Good Way to Change a Corporate Culture, and since this has been a subject of interest to me for a long time, and it appeared to be very short, I continued with my totally disorganized approach to life and stopped what I was doing to read it.

If you, like me, are somewhat fascinated by how organizations continually wrestle with their cultures and the impact that they have on where you work and /or your role as a leader in those organizations, I suggest you take 10 minutes and read what Bergman has to say. 

If you don't have the 10 minutes, then here's the gist:

While for sure there are plenty of things that go into creating a culture, one of the most profound  are the "stories" that come out of the organization as it grows, and these stories do much to cement the expectation we all have of what is expected of us as we consider becoming part of that culture or as importantly, if the "stories" we heard that attracted us in the first place turn out to be fact or fiction

As the economy continues to improve and the talent marketplace begins to turn once again into a "sellers" market (and it will) - our ability to continue to attract and retain the "A" players will turn on their feeling of whether those stories are indeed fact or fiction.

Hint: We live in a non-fiction world.


Steve Levy said...

Indigenous tribes tell stories - really, the elders - the tribe's historians - to inculcate younger members into the tribe's culture. This is serious business.

Sadly, most companies "teach" culture during a short onboarding, followed by being referred to HR's Policies and Procedures Handbook. Pretty exciting stories!

No wonder culture is hard to put one's finger on...

When you tell a story once, it's an amusing story; tell it again after a little experience with the company and it becomes a parable. Tell it again but this time having people who've listened to it twice before finish parts, and it takes on ownership.

Attracting and retaining talent isn't done with a single story telling episode by one person. Every employee needs to be given the opportunity to learn the story and make it "their" story. When this happens THEN you'll have a culture to write home about.

Dave Opton said...

Well said Steve. Thanks for taking the time.