Our Overall Approach to Creating Healthy Cultures. Creative Ground convenes a faculty of strategic partners who combine their skills, depending on the needs of a project. Projects are typically structured in four phases:
1. Initiating Assessment
“Listen for the song beneath the words”
We use a mix of focus groups, individual interviews, meetings observations, inventory of key stakeholders, organizational strategic and structural documents, cultural norms and expectations, an adaptive leadership assessment, and a simple “healthy culture assessment” tool to understand what contributes to the team/organizational challenges.
Some of Our Questions:
–What are the alliances beyond the organizational chart?
–Does leadership tolerate ambiguity and experimentation?
–Are people able to “speak the unspeakable”?
–Is there space for creative thought, shared reflection and collective problem-solving?
“Diagnosis comes before treatment”
We use our multidimensional observations of structures, culture and norms to diagnose the key barriers to healthy team/organizational dynamics, and we develop a customized work plan for addressing them. We work with all staff, not just management, to approve our approach. And we allow for ongoing adjustments to the plan so as to best adapt to the dynamics as they reveal themselves over time.
Some of Our Questions:
–Are there immediate structural challenges that should be flagged and prioritized?
–What proportion of staff direct blame outwards and are unwilling to see their individual contribution?
–Where do the greatest fractures lie and between whom?
“What people fear is not change per se, but loss”
While we customize the process for each project, there is much consistency across projects. Provided below is a sample of tactics we might apply in any change process.
- Workshops: We use workshops or “learning labs” to build skills in self-reflection, interpersonal communications and collaboration. We will usually develop an initial set of collaborative agreements that reflect the work culture teams seek to achieve and identify the virtues they seek to embody. These agreements change over time, as staff become more attune to what they really want, and don’t want, in terms of workplace dynamics.
- Individual Coaching: We provide coaching and mentoring to the team’s management as well as to selected members of the team, depending on areas of challenge. The focus is taking the workshop learnings to the next level and learning more about their application on a day-to-day basis.
- Meeting Dynamics: We regularly work with teams to improve their meetings practices. Many team meetings do not take advantage of the talent in the room and leave staff bored or deflated. We make in-the-moment recommendations for how to embed new meetings practices that transform the energy and capacity for innovation.
- Crucial Conversations: We focus on specific conflicts and facilitate crucial conversations between two or more staff. Sometimes multiple sessions are needed to rebuild trust after too much conflict has gone unresolved.
- Refinements and Assessment: We continuously refine our approach to the work and circle back to staff and leadership about our findings and new approaches. Towards the end of the process, we take the pulse again using the same assessment tools and provide interim and final written evaluations that call out what’s needed to sustain the healthier culture.
4. Sustaining Practice
“Changing behaviors requires practice just like training your body to move differently”
As we near the end of the project, we track emerging strategies for how to sustain change. In some cases we work with teams to develop an internal group of highly engaged staff who can model and make suggestions for growing a healthier culture moving forward. At pre-planned intervals, we lead reflective sessions to reflect again on what was learned, develop new tools to sustain the change, and problem-solve emergent issues.
The impact of our work speaks through the voice of our clients. Here are several case studies of specific projects supporting Collective Visioning, Powerful Teams, Renewal, Feeding Genius and our Speaker’s Corner.