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Conscious Culture

Companies with a conscious culture are often recognized as a Best Employer, have high levels of innovation and are outperforming the market. Conscious Capitalism describes a Conscious Culture as a culture that “fosters love and care and builds trust between a company’s team members and its other stakeholders. Conscious Culture is an energizing and unifying force, that truly brings a Conscious Business to life.”

Based on our decades of experience and research with highly engaged companies we have highlighted 8 Success Factors that distinguish a conscious culture.

  1. Strong Alignment

Everyone sings from the same songs sheet. It doesn’t mean that people agree all the time and don’t engage in robust discussion. When it comes to the big questions, the strategic context there is a high level of alignment in the organisation. A conscious culture is defined by a clear set of values and behaviours, a common language and a set of shared expectations that is not just expressed but also lived and demonstrated through actions and decisions. Rhythms, rituals and stories bring those values alive and reinforce the conscious culture. People feel at home and have friends at work.

  1. Inspired by Purpose

Leaders engage rather than control, they lead and inspire with a clear sense of purpose. They walk their talk authentically and are role models to look up to. People love to be part of the business and feel like they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.

  1. Culture of trust

A conscious culture is a fearless culture where relationships are built on trust. People feel safe to own and share their emotions, are happy to speak up and make courageous decisions. People trust, empower and encourage each other and give unconditional support.

  1. Transparent and respectful

People are respectful, open and transparent in their communication. Leaders use coaching to develop people, set clear expectations when discussing goals and give radically candid feedback when required. People talk directly to people rather than talking about them behind their backs.

  1. Acknowledgment and Recognition

Leaders are humble and demonstrate gratitude. For them it is not about how good the leader is, it is how good the people in his team are. People can bring all of who they are to work and leaders acknowledge and recognise contributions to the team and give credit for standout performances. They focus on what is going right.

  1. Sense of One Team

People put the team first and have a high desire for mutual success. They try to create win wins and encourage high levels of collaboration.

  1. Energy and Flow

People are energised working in the business. It is fun and there is laughter. There is a sense of flow in the organisation, no bureaucracy to slow things down but a high level of ownership, self-responsibility and personal accountability. The structure is flat; decisions are taken quickly.

  1. Approach to Challenges and Failure

When it comes to problems/challenges people spend time finding a solution rather than describing the problem in detail.  Issued get solved in an agile way. You feel high levels of curiosity and experimentation is key to success. People are encouraged to fail often, to fail early but to make new mistakes. Failure is an opportunity to continuously learn, to create innovation and to constantly improve.

Do you want to transform your culture to this? Read more about cultural transformation.

 

10 keys to choosing the right venue

A Management Retreat should always be run externally at a good venue. Here are a couple of tips from our experience that are important to consider when choosing the right venue.

  1. Natural Light it key and ideally with some perspective. Sitting in a room without natural light all day feels dismal and the only air you get comes from the air-conditioning. When you have natural light people are far more engaged and happy to be in the room plus you can open the windows to air out the room after a particularly intense discussion.
  1. The room should be spacious enough to allow people to walk around and have breakout sessions in the room. If it is not possible in the room, then breakout rooms and or outside workspaces should be available. Also ensure that they are able to remove the tables from the room and just have chairs. It is distracting if there are tables stacked up at the back of the room… Management retreats need headspace as well as space for discussions and new ideas. Being in a spacious, clean and comfortable room with perspective creates the right atmosphere for this to happen.
  1. Good temperature control. To ensure the perfect environment that everyone can feel comfortable in make sure that there is temperature control for the room available. Nothing worse than being in a room where the sun shines in in the afternoon and you feel like you are in an oven. Also make sure that the temperature control can be fine-tuned. Some venues either have hot or cold or have temperature control that is linked to the temperature control of the whole building.
  1. The venue provides a modern infrastructure with Beamer, Speakers, 2-3 Flip charts with ample paper, 2-3 Pin walls, Facilitators Materials like whiteboard markers in various colours, colourful cards for notepads, blue tack and or pins. That way it is one less thing to worry about.
  1. Ideal is if the venue has quiet surroundings and not too many other conferences happening at the same time. Noise or building works going on at the same time creates unnecessary distractions and you want your participants to be absolutely focused on the matter at hand. Quiet surroundings also have the benefit, that people can step out in nature during break times to reenergise. This is also key if you have a retreat over 2 or 3 days where participants stay overnight at the venue.
  1. Preferably there is ample free parking for participants within easy reach so that participants can arrive without having to worry about finding parking or having to pay for it.
  1. Ideally the venue can offer healthy food options and snacks that some people call performance food. This includes nuts and fruit rather than cake and other sweet treats. Sweet treats cause a sugar rush and then the energy drops and ideally the venue provides food and snacks that are easily digestible and keep your participants performing at the highest level during the whole day. A light 2 course lunch is best – save the 3 course meal with desert for a joint dinner. Participants also appreciate decent coffee so check if the venue just provides instant coffee in jugs or has a coffee machine that caters for the participants’ preferences.
  1. A good service is paramount. The venue has to be well organised so they can address any technical issues quickly without much fuss. The restaurant also needs to be able to serve a 2 course lunch within 60 minutes. This is especially important when the group is larger than 20. If the kitchen takes too long then the agenda and the schedule of the rest of the day is impacted. The opportunity cost of a whole leadership team being off site is a big investment for any company and you want to make sure you can draw maximum value out of the time together. The venue can help by making everything around the event run smoothly.
  1. If you organize dinner for the group as well it is beneficial if the venue has the possibility of offering you a private room for a dinner. This creates a more familiar environment for informal discussions and the participants don’t have to worry about other people in the restaurant overhearing things they shouldn’t.
  1. Finally ask the venue what possibilities exist at or near the venue for an interesting joint activity for the team. So that the facilitator can potentially integrate one or several of these activities into the program, if it suits the context of the retreat.

8 factors to building a Conscious Culture

Companies with a conscious culture are often recognized as a Best Employer, have high levels of innovation and are outperforming the market. Conscious Capitalism describes a Conscious Culture as a culture that “fosters love and care and builds trust between a company’s team members and its other stakeholders. Conscious Culture is an energizing and unifying force, that truly brings a Conscious Business to life.”

Based on our decades of experience and research with highly engaged companies we have highlighted 8 Success Factors that distinguish a conscious culture.

 

  1. Strong Alignment

Everyone sings from the same songs sheet. It doesn’t mean that people agree all the time and don’t engage in robust discussion. When it comes to the big questions, the strategic context there is a high level of alignment in the organisation. A conscious culture is defined by a clear set of values and behaviours, a common language and a set of shared expectations that is not just expressed but also lived and demonstrated through actions and decisions. Rhythms, rituals and stories bring those values alive and reinforce the conscious culture. People feel at home and have friends at work.

  1. Inspired by Purpose

Leaders engage rather than control, they lead and inspire with a clear sense of purpose. They walk their talk authentically and are role models to look up to. People love to be part of the business and feel like they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.

  1. Culture of trust

A conscious culture is a fearless culture where relationships are built on trust. People feel safe to own and share their emotions, are happy to speak up and make courageous decisions. People trust, empower and encourage each other and give unconditional support.

  1. Transparent and respectful

People are respectful, open and transparent in their communication. Leaders use coaching to develop people, set clear expectations when discussing goals and give radically candid feedback when required. People talk directly to people rather than talking about them behind their backs.

  1. Acknowledgment and Recognition

Leaders are humble and demonstrate gratitude. For them it is not about how good the leader is, it is how good the people in his team are. People can bring all of who they are to work and leaders acknowledge and recognise contributions to the team and give credit for standout performances. They focus on what is going right.

  1. Sense of One Team

People put the team first and have a high desire for mutual success. They try to create win win wins and encourage high levels of collaboration.

  1. Energy and Flow

People are energised working in the business. It is fun and there is laughter. There is a sense of flow in the organisation, no bureaucracy to slow things down but a high level of ownership, self-responsibility and personal accountability. The structure is flat; decisions are taken quickly.

  1. Approach to Challenges and Failure

When it comes to problems/challenges people spend time finding a solution rather than describing the problem in detail.  Issued get solved in an agile way. You feel high levels of curiosity and experimentation is key to success. People are encouraged to fail often, to fail early but to make new mistakes. Failure is an opportunity to continuously learn, to create innovation and to constantly improve.

Do you want to transform your culture to this? Read more about cultural transformation.

Toxic Culture

A toxic culture is the opposite of a conscious culture. When your body is full of toxins it won’t perform at its best. In fact, it may make the body sluggish, tired and overweight.  The same happens with a toxic culture. Here are some tell signs that you have a toxic culture.

  1. People are motivated by personal gain, status, hierarchy and titles which are important to the ego. People create internal competition and want to win at all cost. They want power and control and try to manipulate people and situations to get what they want sometimes they might even use bullying behaviour. Personal agendas are sometimes even more important than the company vision.
  1. Managers give orders, people follow and don’t dare to speak up or speak openly, even if what has been ordered doesn’t make any sense at all. Managers may micromanage with little or no vision and manage by creating undue pressure and focus on short term results.
  1. People withhold information, their ideas, their talent and their truth completely or only share it selectively depending on what serves them personally. Sometimes they have given up because no one listens to me anyway and they become disengaged. Or maybe they have given up because of the lack of appreciation or because the leaders take credit for other people’s achievements.
  1. The organisation is run through rigid structure, processes and rules have to be followed and thinking outside the box is not encouraged. People are afraid of breaking the rules. Do as you are told as per your job description and nothing to the left or right. Failure is punished.
  1. People make excuses for not achieving their targets and try to find problems elsewhere, blaming other people or circumstances and complaining about the lack of resources etc. It is important to be right and to criticise and judge others.
  1. Relationships are often dysfunctional and reactive. You may witness defensive behaviour, drama and infighting, personal vendettas, anger or unresolved longstanding conflicts. You may find people using divisive language, us and them thinking ie the bosses and the staff and silo thinking all of which leads to little collaboration.
  1. Disrespect, gossip talk about people, informal grapevine is more effective than company communication. Sarcasm and cynicism bigger than trust
  1. Little happiness at work, no smiles or laughter, no one is talking with each other unless they have to, low energy, people feel drained thinking about going to work, fear is palpable when you walk into a meeting and in the worst case people feel concerned for their job because no one is safe.

If you recognise your own organisation in one or more of the above descriptions, even if it is just in part, it is definitely time for a cultural transformation.

10 Keys to a successful cultural transformation

  1. Must be initiated, sponsored and lead by the CEO and carried by the leadership team
  2. What you don’t measure you can’t manage, measure and track regularly
  3. Ensure strategic, cultural and structural alignment
  4. Understand the fears and concerns that will cause resistance in order to find ways to overcome them
  5. Leaders must be committed to transform themselves as well as their teams, which includes setting clear expectations, giving regular candid feedback and having crucial conversations when people don’t contribute.
  6. Support leaders by developing their capability to execute the plan
  7. Create high engagement, involvement and identification with the transformation to reach the tipping point
  8. Install rhythms, rituals and high levels of communication to bring the new culture alive
  9. Create a culture of personal accountability to ensure fast implementation
  10. Celebrate successes and reward and recognise stewards of the desired culture

 

Business Transformation Success

Business transformation means a constant adaption of business models and identification of growth engines within a company. Underpinned by a transformation of the corporate culture, mindsets and behaviours.

Business Model disruption creates need for Business Transformation

The pace of Silicon Valley based companies has challenged the old traditional business models of most industries, using the access to superior technologies and excellent human talent of the best universities of the world. Their clear focus on growth, high capital returns and enormous flexibility has defined new rules how to play the business game in an accelerated way. The set of their cards seems to hold all the aces: capital access, human capital and a network of accelerators who have clear strategies how to serve the goal. The famous ones, like AirBnB or Uber, have created new ways to share assets and to create more consumption in a world where customers already have it all. In the next stage of the race, those companies will play an additional ace: the access and analysis of the consumer data they have collected over the years.

All other industries, e.g. car manufacturers, insurances will be affected and have to react on the next wave of business models which will threaten their normal business. Will banks exist any longer if you could do all your financial services with a cool Fintech-App? Are medical doctors still needed or is artificial intelligence superior in their ways of treatment using the latest therapeutic knowledge? And what is the business transformation needed to adapt quickly to a fast changing environment?

Defining a clear Business Transformation Process

The race is on but it is difficult to judge how the business transformation process should be designed. Talking about acceleration, company leaders know that they can’t stress the organization for years. So one of the key question you need to answer is: « In which strategic context are we doing this?» And to decide whether we talk constant development or whether we are in a very specific situation where we have to act fast and accelerate the business. Otherwise, we risk the core and the stability of the business.

To make a business transformation happen, you must define a structured process.

  1. The first step is the vision and answering the question “where do you want to go?”.
  2. Next is the evaluation of your business transformation capabilities: “do we have the skills/ capabilities to do this?”. PEAQ uses clearly defined assessment tools like the Barrett’s Cultural Values Assessment Tool to identify potential blockages and the level of fear within an organization.
  3. Third you need to answer  “what specifically needs to be done?” What practically are the drivers of top/bottom line performance?”
  4. In our Team Development Workshops we work hard on mindset shifts, creating choices and commitments to build the capabilities for the next level of growth.
  5. Only then starts the execution, normally it takes a 3-5 year journey to act on a large scale transformation. It is structured by different work-streams, normally working on Products/ Services, KPIs, Roles & Communication.

Continuous adaption after a business transformation process

First a business transformation process has to be clearly announced and well-communicated. Subsequently the leaders have to deliver in a credible and consistent way and create quick wins. In our role as trusted strategic advisors we often observe that the energy of all people involved is extremely high at the beginning but will be diluted over the months by daily business. To keep the whole team going, it requires a consistent effort, a structured process with precisely defined milestones and the future leadership behaviours articulated.

As a core leadership team, it is essential to keep the energy level up. Most companies are used to permanent change and have the appropriate tools and processes in place. Nevertheless, 70% of all change management initiatives fail in the long-term. It is much easier to build a new culture within a Start-Up-Company with a highly committed team of founders. Instead of changing the old habits and behaviours of a Fortune500-company. Why? The energy is new, fresh and clean. The culture is not influenced by old blockages and set-backs.  On the contrary the energy of co-creation and collaboration is powerful and creates fast growth.

However, if you align your core leadership team on the strategic context and get their commitment to the business transformation they will inspire the rest of the business to come along on the journey.

Integration of IQ-EQ-SQ

The leadership team has to be willing to create this energy during the business transformation process. It needs an openness which is radical and self-reflective.  And a learning journey in leading themselves confronted with their biases and blind spots. This takes enormous commitment and effort. PEAQ uses the Theory U process describing three key openings:

  1. the mind to challenge the assumptions (IQ),
  2. the heart, showing yourself as being vulnerable and listen to each other with empathy (EQ) and
  3. the will to let go pre-set plans and objectives (SQ).

We are used to work on the IQ level but to work on the EQ and SQ level as well is highly innovative. Feeling uncomfortable despite all tools in place and the connection to the business modelling is demanding as you play on a different level. But right here is where you create the concrete breakthroughs, where real transformation starts. Working with PEAQ means having real, open and honest conversation and having effective relationships among people who shape companies.

To engage in a conversation about how we could assist your business transformation write to qa@peaqpartners.com

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