Most of the time when we think about organizational culture change, we think about … well, our organizations. We begin with the basic premise that in order to create a thriving, vibrant culture we must make lofty changes to the company’s policies, practices and procedures. In our quest for greatness, we focus our attention on revamping the mission, vision and values and interpreting these into HR communication strategies, policy changes or different initiatives to incentivize employee productivity. While working with the wider systems and structures are important to creating vibrant cultures, what we have found in our Experience Design and Staging work with numerous companies who aspire to be the “best-in-the-world” is this:
1. No amount of focus on just the organizational level will be enough.
2. If we want to have a vibrant culture, we must have vibrant individuals.
3. Individuals become vibrant when they are connected to their purpose.
4. Cultures become vibrant when a company connects to the purpose of the people who work there.
Creating thriving, vibrant organizations starts with individual purpose. Now most of the time when we bring up purpose, we go back to thinking on a grand scale. We start to ask, “Why am I here? What is my ultimate purpose?” These questions are important to explore if we are to live as vibrant individuals. Trouble is the more often we ask these lofty questions, the more trite they can become. Searching for purpose when balancing a budget, sending an email, or going through our to-do list for the day will probably lead to more frustrating questions than clarifying answers. So does that mean connecting to our purpose should be left to a once-a-quarter or once-a-year activity? We don’t think so. And here’s why:
If we can’t find a way to live purposefully on a daily basis it’s highly unlikely, when we add all these days up at the end, they will equal a vibrant life.
The math just doesn’t work that way. So, if pursuing our ultimate purpose on a minute-by-minute basis doesn’t work and not pursuing it also doesn’t work, then what are we to do? Join a religious order? Watch more TV? Maybe becoming a vibrant individual is not as confusing as it sounds.
For those of you who have been to Starizon, you know this is an inspirational place. You also know that the most inspirational “place within the place” is Discover, where we have carved inspirational words on the chairs and inspirational quotes on the tables. (For those of you who haven’t been to Starizon, click here to see pictures of Starizon and you’ll see what we’re talking about.) With only the prompts of the words and quotes carved into the table, we have transformed the mundane task of sitting down for a meeting into a purposeful experience of choosing your lesson, your role and your intention while in that time and space.
But you don’t have to have a plot of land, an Experience studio, or even a table to create your own version of our Discover. If at the beginning of each day, you decided on a specific word, quote, or intention, this small act would be enough to connect you with purpose in a meaningful way. Here’s an example. Let’s say you picked the word “Bridge.” In using this word as a reflection throughout the day, you might watch more carefully for how you can bridge your organization’s purpose and your own purpose. You might seek to be a bridge by using your specific talents and passions to elevate the quality of your daily work. Picking a word might seem like a small thing but sweating the small stuff can make a big difference.
Imagine a different word, a different quote and a different lesson tomorrow. And, the next day. And the next. By using this simple principle of living a purposeful life, you can transform your day, your week, your year, yourself and even your culture.
Tell us your ideas for how you can create your own version of Discover. What word or quote would you pick today? Try it out and tell us your own stories of purpose!