We love to support people and organizations in their pursuit of humanistic employee cultures where there is relentless passion for kindness, empathy, dignity, humility, trust, transparency, sharing, happiness, humility, compassion and love.


Role Models


Whole Person Organizational Cultures©

Gerald R. Wagner, PhD.
March — April, 2016

The joy in my work with ROLE MODELS includes the interaction with positive people at positive companies. I learned about Vibrant Credit Union and invited them to become a ROLE MODEL. This is the response I received.

“Jerry thank you so much for reaching out to me! This sounds like a great opportunity and I would love to share more about Vibrant's culture with you and the readers of Culture ROLE MODELS. I looked at the websites you linked, and what you're doing is so great! I love that you are sharing positive stories about workplace culture. I would love to write an article about our culture here at Vibrant!”

How nice. Thanks Danielle.

As will probably be obvious from this issue, this PhD. Research Statistician (me) is leaning more and more to the human side of culture. It is where the fun developments are, where big improvements are possible, and where there are little or no additional expenses to implement tools and ideas. This is pointing the way for workplaces of the future. As always, I love your feedback.

As I look back over issues since when we began in July, 2015 it is amazing how ROLE MODELS keeps getting better with each issue. This March issue is a blockbuster. Thanks to all that have made this possible.

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Culture AMBASSADORS Now in Austin, Texas

The Austin chapter of Culture AMBASSADORS launched on March 3, 2016. A wonderful group of culture enthusiasts met at GSD&M in Austin. GSD&M is the famous advertising and marketing firm with renowned clients including Southwest Airlines.

Those attending were exceptional professionals. I can’t publish names here but believe me you would be impressed. Four inspired participants volunteered to move the chapter into the future. Thanks to the four for that. This includes a very capable marketing mange who volunteered to lead the group. Thanks Angela. The next meeting on May 19, 2016 will be hosted by Seton Medical Center. Seton is well known for their exceptional workplace spirit.

Seton Medical Center, Austin, Texas.
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What Richard’s been Up To

Richard is one of our wonderful teachers. See his complete video that he did for the Institute.

Richard says if we turned my 2015 life into a video game, it would be titled: Where in the world is Richard Sheridan? The following explains why.

“If I learned one thing in 2015, it was that the world is desperate to hear the message of joy in the workplace. I had no idea of how powerful this message was going to be. This kept me on airplanes nearly every week of the year. I just achieved Platinum status on Delta for 75,000 miles in 2015. Three times round the planet in just one year and Delta was just one of the airlines I used. All this attention helped propel Menlo to its best year ever, including our hosting of nearly 4,000 visitors to come see us from all over the planet. We had visitors from every continent but Antartica.

Many have asked me if I’m OK with all this travel. Ironically, on a return trip from Europe I watched Up in the Air with Tom Hanks and could relate to some of that storyline. However, Hanks was delivering the opposite of joy in that movie. Bringing the joy message to the world and making new friends all over the world has been a new and unexpected version of joy for me. I am not yet tired, weary or hoping to avoid future trips. In fact, 2016 looks like it will be just as busy with trips already planned to Iceland, England, France, Croatia and India.

So where did I go? Internationally, I got to Edinburgh, Duesseldorf, Berlin, Vienna, Ottawa, and Banff. In the US, there were many Michigan speaking engagements as well as California, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Washington.

Miami Beach
Banff Lake Louise
Special Forces

I met some great people along the way including authors Patrick Lencioni and David Marquet as well as the fine folks at the Special Forces Academy in North Carolina, home of the Green Beret.

What other big stuff happened? I started writing, this time for Inc.com. And there is some serious exploration of a second book.

BUT, the biggest and best story of all was when Miller Reese McHugh was born on March 4th, the day of my keynote in New Orleans to the Lean Enterprise Summit. Miller is our first grandchild and she is getting all the loving attention you’d expect from my wife and I and her aunts (our two other daughters). Talk about joy! A granddaughter is the best thing ever. We spent a week with the entire family in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina and we could dote the entire time! I also managed a brief R&R with my brother in the Upper Peninsula for beer, scotch and cigars on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigamme.”

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Value Your “Do-Acracy”

Before leaving work each day, employees at Ubiquity Retirement + Savings press a button in the lobby. They’re not punching out—not in the traditional sense, anyway. They’re actually registering their emotions. They have five buttons to choose from: a smiley face if they felt happy at work that day, a frowny face if they felt sad, and so on. Ubiquity is using the data it collects to understand what motivates employees—to learn what makes them feel a sense of belonging and excitement at work.

Ubiquity Retirement + Savings employees are encouraged to exercise choice and take control of their futures. Our unique structure rejects the traditional workplace order and offers employees growth through the principles of focused decentralization with a higher purpose. This remarkable culture came to be through inspired action taken by Chad Parks, Ubiquity’s CEO + Founder.

Several years ago, Chad took an extended five-month trip. Upon his return, the company had changed so much he didn’t recognize it—there were still many familiar faces, but the tangible spark was missing.

Chad Parks, CEO and Founder

It was apparent to Chad that the company culture needed some work, so he hired a local human resources expert to analyze and recommend changes. The following year would place Ubiquity on a transformative and pivotal course.

Within the first few months, a mission statement and set of company values were created by a diverse group of employees. By connecting a cross section of various positions and leaders, this group met weekly and analyzed what everyone valued about the organization. Over the past five years, these values have become the inspiration for everything Ubiquity does.

Ubiquity calls itself a “do-acracy.” Part of creating a dynamic company culture involves designing a unique language. A “do-acracy” means having a higher purpose rather than a hierarchy. Ubiquity is in a constant state of (r)evolution and our team members hold each other to a higher standard with collaboration and action at the core.

The “Meet Your Future” internal career fair is just one way the company promotes autonomy and collaboration. At this multi-annual event, team champions set up tables showcasing their respective teams and what they do to impact the business. It’s a casual way for staffers to discover other teams and find opportunity for their future growth.

Their motto: teams do not own talent—rather, talent is free to move to another team when there is an opportunity and fit.

Ubiquity is in a constant state of (r)evolution, achieved in large part by their "Innovation Rovers" —a group of people passionate about solving a particular problem. If any UBee (Ubiquity employee) sees a problem or an opportunity, they have the power to address it through a new solution or by evolving a current policy, process or program.

In addition, everyone is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) at Ubiquity. To that end, each person is supremely knowledgeable about some valuable part of the organization. Every team member is encouraged to “find their inner hero,” and speak up on behalf of their team and colleagues. Together, the teams act with clever curiosity, creativity, and strategy.

Being an expert, taking action, and collaborating isn't enough at Ubiquity. Team members must be passionate and excited about the work they do—with everyone working passionately hard, with camaraderie, respect, trust, and joy as the results.

Ubiquity Group

Today, Chad looks back at this transformative time and smiles. Values articulate the fire that fuels a business. If you don’t recognize your company, maybe it’s time for a (r)evolution.

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Welcome to the New World of Virtuous Organizations

Graham Williams, Co-author, The Virtuosa Organization.

I had the privilege of getting know Graham Williams in 2015. When I say privilege I totally mean that. I became acquitted with Graham first from his book entitled The Virtuosa Organization. I think this book should be required reading for every person that manages people and every STUDENT IN MBA programs.

Together Graham and I did a series of blogs for Culture University. Here they are:

  1. Have We Crossed the Corporate Virtues Chasm?
  2. Giving Virtuoso Performances
  3. Measuring the Performance of Virtuous Organizations
  4. Talent Hunt Clues
  5. Spiritual Mindfulness in Organizations

Graham is absolutely the best person to explain what and why a Virtuous Organization. Thus I asked and he gave me the following words.

“The time when self-interested businesses and entrepreneurs could independently reap rewards of growth and prosperity and maximize profits irrespective of their impact on the communities, society and environment in which they operated, are gone. A growing awareness of interconnectedness has ushered in an era of corporate citizenship and responsibility.

Our world is in crisis on many levels – environmentally, spiritually, politically, socially, and economically. Recent scandalous behaviour has included HSBC, Toshiba, Petrobras, FIFA, and Volkswagen.

We know that disconnects between expressed values and actual behaviours spells disaster for an organization’s reputation and long-term sustainability. And there is no quick fix once their reputation is harmed.

We also know that people are attracted by the magnet of virtue. A deep chord is touched and resonates with what they themselves wish to be. A virtuous person or organization has incredible positive influence. And this represents a huge opportunity for business organizations. Indeed it is now an imperative and no longer a choice.”

A Cherokee elder explained to a grandson, “There are two wolves inside each one of us and they fight constantly. One is anger, greed, desire for power and possessions, ego, deceit and self-interest. The other is peace, joy, humility, hope, authenticity and love”.

“Which wolf wins?” asked the boy

The elder replied, “The one that you feed”.

Business is discovering that old-style capitalism has failed, that there is a need to adopt a triple-bottom-line (people/planet/profit) approach in a way that goes far beyond forced compliance. There may still be more cynics than advocates but we are beginning to approach a critical mass and a shift to virtuosity.

Many, including Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and SVP of sustainability Kathleen McLaughlin, are speaking of converging paths and interlinked destinies, “Increasingly, a basic expectation among customers, governments, and communities will be that the companies they do business with provide a significant net positive return for society at large, not just for investors. This will be a part of the implicit contract or license to operate.

Most have still to clarify their intentions, the cultural journey needed to establish the right values for themselves. Too many mindlessly adopt politically correct and what we term ‘threshold values’ like integrity, transparency, accountability... which do not distinguish them in any way and all businesses should have, do not resonate with their employees and attract talent, and are quite frankly boring and seldom believed by the wider public.

A few have recognised that inner journeys must accompany their outer journey, and have identified meaningful values that work for their business - like curiosity, compassion, resilience, being present. They have then succeeded in converting these values to character virtues spread widely throughout the business.

Arnold Smit of the University of Stellenbosch Business School says: ‘If a set of agreed-upon values, as is so often found in business, is not anchored in the hearts and minds and behaviours of individuals, they will remain superficial, surface phenomena. Virtues in contrast and by their very nature, are embedded in the people within whom they manifest’. A proven process for becoming virtuous has been explained in detail in The Virtuosa Organisation. More research is supporting the business benefits of becoming virtuous, and more and more success stories and potential role models are emerging.

Last year I attended the last ever South African performance by Australian concert pianist David Helfgott in the Cape Town City Hall. Prior to the event I re-watched the DVD of the movie Shine, a fictionalised account of his life. Born of Polish-Jewish parents, Helfgott is schizoaffective – he has lifelong mood and thought disorders. His music is sometimes criticised by the aficionados. And maybe at this performance his playing was not technically perfect. But there was certainly beauty in its imperfection! The concert was an emotional experience, Helfgott’s connection with his audience palpable. He was given a standing ovation, and there were three encores. It seemed to me that his mental condition, life story and performance all merged to become a virtuoso event.

This is a story of the triumph of the human spirit. I was inspired to believe that whatever our own history, flaws, levels of competence – individual or corporate – virtuoso performances are possible.

Virtuous organizations may not be perfect or flawless but have clear and meaningful purpose and intent - one that transcends profit, and believe in the virtues they practice. They know where they’re going, walk to their own beat, and attract custom and talent.

Virtuous organizations have a distinct character (Culture). They have identified their own specific core virtues and these inform and set their operating practices, processes and enabling technology apart. They share in common and demonstrate the virtues of love (Kahlil Gibran – ‘Work is love made visible’), a spiritual dimension, a raised awareness of their interconnectedness with all things, a passion for growing the ‘whole person’, and display a deep mindfulness, focus and calm.”

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Ways to show that you love your employees

Kristin Robetson, CEO, Brio Leadership.

My friend Kristin Robertson of Brio Leadership had a wonderful blog at the time of Valentine’s Day. It was called “Five Ways to Love your Employees this Valentine’s Day”. The entire blog was terrific but parts were exceptional and right up the alley of this issue of Culture ROLE MODELS. Thus I’m including them. Thanks Kristin.

Use all means at your disposal to show employees you care.

Kristin summarized her piece this way: “What’s in it for you, the executive or manager, of showing all this love? In a phrase, your payoff is the retention of your best people. Research shows that people join companies but leave managers, and that, above all else, employees value managers who care about them. In this economy, holding onto your top performers will not only save you money but can save the company”.

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Revolution of Wholeness™ in Progress

Lauri Feinsod, CEO, Meaning Conference in the UK

Lauri Feinsod is CEO of Graphik Dimensions Ltd. (GD), a conscious business with a commitment to living the question: what is the vast potential of corporate culture to be an uplifting force in the world? Technically speaking, GD is an amazingly diverse, values-driven mothership for a suite of brands – both legacy and emerging – devoted to printing, art, framing, wall décor and upcycling, that began 51 years ago as a glint in the eyes of two childhood sweetheart Artists. Decades later, Lauri, and the GD community, have managed to infuse a successful and mature company with some fairly joyous startup energy.

Wildly recalibrating to a new story of business, under Lauri's leadership, the organization has been co-sourcing myriad practices that amplify its values – from an annual Project Brilliance initiative that elevates its people, to unleashed C4ums that drive boldnesses such as zero landfill manufacturing, to its first in-house Poet Laureate. Throughout, GD leans into human potential first and creates the conditions that transform the fabric of everything.

Shea, GD’s First Spoken Word Poet Laureate

The Foundation for Transformation

“Really, what’s afoot at our organization is a revolution of wholeness – this is the nexus point where individually, on a community level, and on a planetary level, the organization becomes a super-conductor for transformation,” explains Lauri.

Employee Feelings about Their Work

Clearly, the revolution is working. During Lauri’s tenure, GD has been acknowledged with an array of accolades, from 4 consecutive fastest growing awards, to multiple best place to work & top women-owned enterprise wins, to most recently, the first sustainability and manufacturer of the year nods for innovation around people. Additionally, this thriving company has undergone a campus expansion to accommodate its unbridled growth.

The C4 Values: Finding Their Soul

When Lauri became the CEO, she invited passionate, self-selecting employees to join her in a co-discovery of the company values – the very highest qualities they aspired to as a community. This organic roundtable bubbled into what they refer to as C4 values: Consciousness, Community, Collaboration & Creativity. These values have become a “north star,” for catalyzing GD’s evolution. “It's a litmus test for how we discuss anything, from leadership, to manufacturing, to strategic planning, to cost management, to workflow management. It always comes back to this,” says Lauri.

A proudly diverse community – including rare gender equality at leadership levels – GD represents over two dozen nations, a wide range of religious and political beliefs, and is simultaneously a tech company, design group, call center, manufacturing operation, and more. “It's such a diverse group of people, but these values – these four words – mean something to every single person. And, every one of them has been invited to embody what’s most meaningful to them in that landscape – those four words let everyone out of the box.”

Inviting the Brilliance in Everyone

GD’s Project Brilliance – an annual, multi-faceted initiative to support its community in growing, learning, stretching, inspiring, evoking and co-creating success, has been a powerful factor in the company’s development. GD’s President, Geo Krieg, likewise an impassioned advocate for the power of people, explains, “You bring innovation to technology, equipment, product development & marketing. We’re just bringing innovation to people, too, because they’re really at the center of who we are, and how we create.”

An especially bright facet of the diamond, was the introduction of C4ums, several years ago. The C4ums were launched as passion-driven, employee-led, cross-departmental teams to amplify the company’s C4 values into a next level of action. They simultaneously increase employee engagement, co-leaderfulness, unity, communication and, ultimately, happiness. In fact, a full third of the community at GD actively participates in one of the company’s C4ums that steward advancements in Sustainability, Celebration, Wellness & Community. One inspired employee recently asked to inaugurate a new “Cosmic C4um,” with even more focus on deepening whole organizational development. Kickoff is expected within the next few months.

Given the mission of GD’s C4um’s to act boldly, via the lens of the company’s C4 values, it was with extraordinary pride that the Sustainability C4um ignited a whole-organization transformation leading to one of last year’s touchstone accomplishments: becoming a zero-landfill manufacturer! Sustainability has long been a driver of innovation at GD, and has included the launch of USA Salvage (the company’s B2B upcycling brand), an eco-responsible modernization at their new headquarters, and co-creation of a new level of eco-bubble wrap, among other things. While the C4um wasn’t sure zero landfill could be done, there was much positive momentum. Ultimately, their roadmap to success went from vision to reality in only one year – a perfect way to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary in 2015!

Alivening Experiences

Another facet of Project Brilliance focuses on uplifting employees with experiences that aliven – both personally and professionally. In 2015 alone, the initiative touched over 80% of the GD community, with training that included everything from the very wholistic “Blueprint of We” collaboration tool, well designed to ratchet up GD’s conscious conversations, to their own proprietary “Emerging Leadership” program, designed to cultivate leaderfulness in first time Supervisors & Managers. Some of the more traditional tools that enhance operational efficiencies, like Lean & Project Management, not to mention world-class Customer Care, Business Development & Sales Training, were also part of last year’s initiative. As a result, like all healthy systems, GD is popping all over; not constrained by top down leadership, insights and solutions come at every level.

Dance-off at Winterfest

And, given that this is an organization where a revolution of wholeness is afoot, there’s also wild permission to PLAY! Potlucks, crazy hat contests, team campfire outings, Halloween fright and kickball team victories, as well as shared space for life’s general happinesses, in celebration of new marriages, babies, graduate degrees earned and other bright moments (in fact, preparations have already begun for this year’s May 4th Star Wars party)… the list is a lengthy one.

New Communication Agreements

Superhero Supervisors

Another critical facet of GD’s success, has been the complete re-engineering of its communication architecture. Some changes look like more conventional lunges at transparency – from very real-time updates, via dialogue, analytics and up-to-the-minute collaboration tools, to uncensored CEO Chats, a steady diet of team huddles and, most recently, cooking with the President. In fact, kitchen gatherings are an emerging hearth of the GD home where teams meet while breaking bread together. All this serves to support holistic, agile course-correction and ideation that transcends hierarchy.

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He Foreshadowed Modern Management Practices

Franz Metcalf and BJ Gallagher, Being Buddha at Work: 108 Ancient Truths on Change, Stress, Money, and Success.

I happened to see the book title “BEING BUDDHA AT WORK”. With the Culture ROLE MODELS series on ancient teachings that was a “WOW” find. I promptly contacted the co-authors Franz Metcalf and B. J. Gallagher to do a piece for Culture ROLE MODELS. They said yes and what they have given us is perfect.

An Ancient—and yet Modern—Cultural Role Model

When awakened by all things, the separateness of you and others drops away.

Dogen Zenji, Genjo Koan

“Hell is other people,” wrote the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. He was right, but only half right. The other half is, ‘Heaven is other people’. Work in any organization fundamentally consists of working with other people—coworkers, bosses, customers, vendors, the public. Our relationships with other people are what give us most of our headaches, but these relationships also give us most of our joy. At bottom, we are our relationships, so, as we wish to evolve as persons, we must evolve those relationships.

Of course it is easy to fall into the lazy fantasy of being rid of all annoying people. Bankers have been heard to mutter, ‘This would be a great place to work, if it weren’t for the customers’. University staff people sometimes comment, ‘This would be a great place to work, if it weren’t for the students’. Book publishers (not ours, of course, never never) occasionally gripe, ‘This would be a great place to work, if it weren’t for the authors’. Wherever you work, we know that you, too, can identify persons and groups that make your life difficult. Bosses complain about their workers, workers complain about their bosses. We see others as the problem and wish them gone. But here is a truth that reveals that as a fantasy: many people who work from home complain that the thing they miss the most is other people! Without contact with others, we are not fully ourselves.

What are we to do? We can’t seem to live with one another, but we can’t live without one another. The Buddha understood this dilemma, and much of his teaching addresses how to live in community with other people. In fact, the Buddha was effectively the founder and CEO of a large corporation. He managed hundreds of persons employed in serving the religious needs of themselves and thousands of others. He embodied awakening, sure, but he also foreshadowed modern management practices, the most central of which is teamwork.

The Buddha teaches that we only truly exist in our relationships. This is why their power is so great. This is why they can be heaven or hell for us. Relationships extend indefinitely at work and beyond. Whether picking leaders, or building teams, or training employees, or ending conflicts, we are creating relationships, we are working through relationships, and we are thus establishing patterns that will continue beyond us. Buddhist practice can make those relationships the path of awakening itself, can build an awakened consciousness right into the fabric of the workplace.

The Buddha was once told that ‘admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie’ is ‘half of the holy life’. But the Buddha immediately responded ‘Don’t say that’, this kind of relationship is, in fact, ‘the whole of the holy life’. Obviously he paid serious attention to creating good workplace relationships!

Equally obvious is that creating those relationships is ongoing and requires many different practices and mutual commitment. Here we can name only the first steps of that endless journey. The first step is holding the awareness that human beings—bosses, co-workers, employees, clients, customers—are surely as unique as snowflakes. They may appear to be the same at first glance, but when we look closer, we discover striking differences.

Holding that awareness, we can take the next step: cultivating work relationships that awaken to the reality of the other, that place the other at the center, that encourage us to treat others the way they want to be treated. Instead of judging other people to be “difficult,” consider finding out more about them so that your relationship is truly mutual. Instead of constructing relationships from goals or principles, let them grow from mutuality.

In a pluralistic workforce, flexibility and adaptability are not optional—they are fundamental practices. This places Dogen’s quote on being awakened by all things right in the workplace: Be awakened by your work relationships and you’ll find that separateness of yourself and others drops away.”

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A Culture of Dreaming

In early 2011, Infusionsoft’s Vice President Brett Gilliland received a book entitled the Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly. He recall’s, “After reading the book, I knew that Infusionsoft would one day have a Dream Manager.” His intuition proved to be prophetic when 18 months later Infusionsoft hired their first full-time Dream Manager.

Now in case, you have never worked at a company with a Dream Manager. A Dream Manager’s full-time role is to help establish a culture of dreaming in the company. To support employees in the process of discovering, organizing and accomplishing personal dreams. Prominently placed in the center of the Infusionsoft’s office is the dream wall displaying some of these dreams. “Beach life in Mexico”, “To start a foundation helping mothers dealing with infant loss”, “To travel to Portugal with my wife” and “Even start a successful small business of my own.”

Why would a company invest in these types of dreams? Infusionsoft believes that when individuals are self actualizing in their personal lives that they will show up more powerfully in their work lives as well. When employees are willing to step powerfully and intentionally into their future, you are left with a more confident and capable employee. The rising tide lifts all boats.

Paul Green

Take Paul Green for example, his dream was to move to Hollywood to pursue his dream of stand up comedy. Paul’s leaders partnered with the Dream Manager to make space for Paul to work remotely so that he could be in the heart of the Southern California comedy scene. “Paul is killing it!”, said Paul’s manager, “He is consistently in the top two on his team.” Paul admitted that, “It was scary to leave the comfort of Arizona and my familiar bubble, to move from what was familiar to the most competitive comedy city in the world.”

When Paul was asked about what accomplishing this dream meant to him, he said, “it taught me the power of dreaming and gave me a greater desire to encourage others to accomplish their dreams. Especially with our customers, I feel more invested than ever in helping them to accomplish their dreams.”

There is a symbiotic relationship that can emerge when we align company objectives and employees dreams in creative ways.

Dream Wall at Infusionsoft

To better support this initiative Infusionsoft offers a Dream Manager Certification for its leaders which immerses them in the mindset and conversations that are the stuff of successful dream management. After their certification, they will kick off dreaming with their teams and encourage them to share their dreams with each other. As team members, share simple but significant dreams with each other. Team unity is built and a culture of dreaming is born. With over 50% of their leaders certified to lead their people toward their dreams, goals are being checked off all over the building. A trip to Iceland here, a successful small business launch there and all the while the Infusionsoft’s business continues to boom.

There is much more to learn about Infusionsoft’s Dream Manager Program.

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Manage Your Emotional Culture

The caption above is the title of an article in January, 2016 Harvard Business Review. I highly recommend that you look at it. The figure shown to the left from the article is an example of a tool that was mentioned previously in the section about Ubiquity.

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He/She Gives Life

More than 15 years ago, Kent Thiry, now chairman and CEO of DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc., took over a company known as Total Renal Care and made an intentional shift to make it more than just a place where people worked. A group of leaders, who would come to be known as the Phoenix Group, decided to reshape their company’s culture and future. In June 2000, they chose a new name, DaVita – meaning “he/she gives life” – and started down a path toward becoming a true community held together by a now shared vision to “Build the Greatest Healthcare Community the World Has Ever Seen.”

The DaVita Story

A Community First and a Company Second

While it might be uncommon for a FORTUNE 500 company, being “a Community First and a Company Second” helps set the foundation for how DaVita HealthCare Partners operates through its vision of corporate social responsibility: Caring for Our Patients, Caring for Each Other and Caring for the World. By creating a “community,” teammates are engaged in helping create a special place, where people care for each other with the same intensity with which they care for their patients.

Caring for Our Patients

DaVita is committed to helping patients improve their quality of life. For the past 15 years, DaVita has improved clinical outcomes, prioritized patient safety and provided some of the most intuitive and accessible tools for patient education. This commitment to quality is clear from two quality metrics set by the federal government: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Five-Star Quality Rating system and Quality Incentive Program. In both metrics, DaVita outperformed all other major dialysis providers.

Caring for Each Other

CEO, Kent Thiry on Freedom at Work at DaVita

DaVita knows that it is strongest when all its teammates are engaged and have a voice. Open dialogue has been a DaVita cornerstone since the company’s founding, and teammates are actively encouraged to share their ideas with leadership. Village-wide calls and town hall meetings allow teammates to directly ask senior leadership questions and provide feedback on how the company is running.

Teammates refer to DaVita as a “Village,” creating a community that fosters cooperation and a culture of support through the power of team. In addition to choosing the name “DaVita,” teammates also chose the core values that govern the culture – Service Excellence, Integrity, Team, Continuous Improvement, Accountability, Fulfillment and Fun.

Teammate development is another top priority at DaVita. Through DaVita University, the company provides personal and professional development courses for teammates that encourage leadership at work and home. DaVita believes that leadership is a human skill – one that can be cultivated regardless of title or position – and encourages all teammates to enroll in programs and other initiatives to help them grow. In addition to its more structured classes, DaVita supports voluntary teammate-to-teammate mentorship that allows for guided personal growth across the Village.

DaVita also provides opportunities to help teammates in other parts of their lives like scholarship programs for teammates’ children, initiatives rewarding healthy teammate choices or acting as a safety net for life’s unexpected moments.

Caring for Our World

DaVita strives to be a good corporate citizen of the world, but cannot do it without teammates caring for their local communities. Since 2006, teammates and their families and friends have volunteered more than 111,000 hours through community service projects, known internally as Village Service Days. From beach clean-up projects to serving meals to the homeless, DaVita teammates take ownership of where they live and work.

Through the annual “DaVita Way of Giving” initiative, teammates have helped direct more than $6.8 million in DaVita donations to local charities across the U.S. to help them grow and thrive. Charities include animal shelters, health organizations, after-school programs, green causes and more.

Serving others is at the heart of the DaVita Way. It helps drive teammates to care for patients, each other and the world in a way that improves the quality of life of those most in need. DaVita teammates create an inspired community that desires to make the world a little better today than it was yesterday.

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Love Summit: First Annual Meeting

Dan Wieden chairman Wieden+ Kennedy and Samantha Thomas Executive Director DreamChange.

In June, 2015 over 250 people gathered at Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency headquarters in Portland, Oregon to discuss the role of love in business. Yes, you read that right— love in business.

People spent the day at the debut of nonprofit organization DreamChange’s first annual Love Summit; a business conference aimed at demonstrating why compassionate businesses—businesses that put people and the planet alongside profit—are the greatest candidates for solving the social, environmental and economic crises of our time.

Dan Wieden, co-founder and chairman of Wieden+Kennedy (that clever guy who changed the world of athleticism by coming up with the slogan “Just Do It” for Nike), teamed up with DreamChange founder and executive director, John Perkins and Samantha Thomas to co-host this provocative event.

Minister Freddy Ehlers, Minister of Well Being, Ecuador.

Wieden wasn’t the only renowned businessman to speak at the Love Summit; fifteen other heart-centered CEOs, government and thought leaders came from around the world to share why “loving is good business”. Speakers included Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland; Dan Price, founder and CEO of Gravity Payments; Darcy Winslow, former senior manager at Nike; Minister Freddy Ehlers, Ecuador’s government minister of Buen Vivir (Wellbeing); and Marci Zaroff, eco-fashion and eco-lifestyle pioneer.

Samantha Thomas, executive director of DreamChange, created the Love Summit after attending countless sustainability conferences that were all overlooking the ultimate driver of social, environmental, and economic sustainability: love. She believes when we can start treating people and the environment from a place of love, sustainability will be simple.

Recognizing the unprecedented impact corporations have on people and the planet, Thomas wants to demonstrate why it is in a companies’ best interest to utilize heart-centered business practices.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review, Manage Your Emotional Culture, exhibits studies that show how businesses with strong cultures of companionate love lead to higher productivity in the workplace, and lower stress rates amongst employees.

But building a heart-centered business not only benefits employees; it positively impacts all aspects of a company—from its operations, to sales, to public relations, to decisions made in the boardroom. All of these components add up to cultivating happier employees, creating more purposeful products and services, making consumers feel loved, and perhaps most importantly—crafting decisions in the boardroom that put people and the planet alongside profit.

The results are profitable businesses that can thrive in the long-term and drive global sustainable development—what CEO of Meriwether Group and Love Summit speaker David Howitt refers to as the Power of And.

Samantha’s goal for 2016 is to grow the Love Summit and broaden its reach. Her plan is to bring the event global to inspire an international culture of love for a happier, healthier, more prosperous world.

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Making Your Workplace Culture Tangible

Have you ever walked into a room or party and had a feeling, either good or bad? As a job seeker, have you gone on an interview and left with a similar feeling about the company? It’s as if a sixth sense kicks in. You pick up on the corporate vibes — positive or negative. It’s an intangible feeling that you can’t quite put your finger on. Maybe it’s the people. Maybe it’s something else. But it’s real; it’s influencing your perceptions and decisions.

Shannon Smedstad, Employment Brand Director, CEB

CEB is a global best practice insight and technology company. Prior to CEB, Shannon spent more than a decade on GEICO’s recruiting team, and led their first social recruiting and employment branding initiatives. Shannon was named a Talent Warrior in 2013 by Glassdoor.com for her social recruiting leadership and innovation, and in 2015 as one of the top HR thought leaders to follow. Following are Shannon’s thoughts about Employment Branding.

At CEB, we are guided by four firm values:

These values guide interactions with clients, communities, and colleagues. Additionally, the company believes in and actively manages the five aspects of its employment value proposition (EVP).

All together, these attributes make CEB, CEB. They contribute to that intangible feeling that someone may have when they walk through the doors. It’s a buzzy, energetic feeling that permeates the offices and radiates from the organization’s employees. It’s the corporate culture.

Which attributes differentiate your workplace? What sort of feeling permeates through your office? Would your new, tenured, retired, or former employees agree? If so, this is the basis by which you can further research and discover your employer brand (EB), and begin to amplify it, internally and externally.

CEBers Working on a Pro Bono Consulting Project for a Non-Profit

Employer Brand vs. Employment Branding

Your company’s employer brand is the set of perceptions that the labor market—employees, former employees, students, job seekers, etc.—have about your organization as an employer. It exists with or without active brand management. According to Glassdoor “Measuring, monitoring and improving an organization’s reputation is becoming an important component of broader talent acquisition strategies for forward-thinking companies.”

Employment (or employer) branding is an action. It’s the art and science of creating awareness of what it’s like to work at an organization, and managing and influencing those perceptions through various messages and channels. It’s much more than simply sharing photos of ping-pong tournaments and free lunches on Facebook (though, who doesn’t love a free lunch?).

Focusing on Outcomes before Tactics

There are many tactics and channels to publish and distribute employment brand content. Instagram. Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Pinterest. Snapchat. Blogs. Videos. Job boards. Honestly, the options for bringing your brand to life and making it more tangible can be overwhelming.

So, before focusing your energy on tactics, think first about the outcomes you want to drive. Then consider your audience and the channels in which they consume content. “Everyone wants to jump to the fun stuff – the how. For example, the brand tagline, the creative look and feel, or the channels to use,” shares Lexi Gordon, lead consultant for exaqueo , a boutique consultancy that helps organizations gain competitive advantage through their workforce. “This is all important to employment branding, but it all needs to be grounded in authenticity and be connected to the why.”

Now that you have a sense for what success may look like, there are various types of content available to you. In Content Rules, the authors define content as “anything our organization creates and shares to tell its story.” Since employment branding includes sharing stories about your company, regularly creating interesting and relevant content is a vital component to attracting and engaging talent.

Types of employer brand content that can help people better grasp workplace culture, include:

Employee-generated content is a particularly effective type of content creation. It’s the photos, videos, and blog posts that are captured, produced, and/or written by current staff members—because they want to share their pride and excitement in their company. And, this type of content automatically adds to the authenticity of your branding efforts (and can be a huge time saver for you, too).

CEB Gives Back Every Year during Global Impact Week

Branding for Influence

Have you scrolled through your LinkedIn feed lately? Most likely, it’s peppered with recruiters sharing updates that say, “I’m hiring! [insert link to job].” Or, “Join our great team! [insert link to job].” All of these general job announcements start to look and sound the same. This “content” seems to be more like clutter. The real question is, how are job seekers supposed to know which company is which, and—more importantly—which role is right for them? How can recruiters write messages that attract qualified talent and cut through the noise?

When it comes to crafting employment brand messages, CEB research shows that brand messages that “sell” are relatively ineffective. The more effective approach—one that can drive an increase in applicant quality—is to create consultative messages that challenge job seekers’ and applicants’ thinking. Doing so allows them to make better career decisions.

According to CEB’s 2014 Employment Brand Effectiveness Survey, consultative brand messages increase applicant quality by 19 percent, yet only 26 percent of organizations use them.

As you think about your talent acquisition challenges — how would an increase in applicant quality benefit your team? Are there changes your team could make today, in six months, or next year that would improve your candidate communications?

Connecting with Colleagues and Enjoying Sports Day Fun

Driving Your Brand

Just like cars need a driver, more and more companies now realize the importance of having an employment brand leader on staff to steer their EB strategy. Often times, the Employment or Talent Brand Manager, or Recruitment Marketing Strategist sits within the talent acquisition department, though marketing is another org chart option.

Regardless of where EB sits, keys to success for the function include: constant collaboration, networking across the enterprise, and the ability to create and curate content. “Nothing happens in a vacuum. We have seen time and time again that stakeholder engagement and alignment can make or break the success of employment branding efforts,” states Gordon. As you select your EB leader, consider candidates who are strategic in focus, creative in approach, and that can collaborate across departments, as well as geographies, to build consensus with recruiting, consumer marketing, and internal communications.

Employment branding is an evolving field that is influencing real business outcomes. Just like marketing impacts sales results, employment branding does the same for recruiting. “Get a baseline of metrics, like retention, turnover, cost of hire, brand sentiment, etc., and continue to monitor as you pull different levers of your strategy,” advises Gordon. “You can prove that you can measure brand and your efforts have a direct impact on the bottom line.”

Your employer brand already exists. What are you doing to make it tangible?

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Please Let Us Know Who you Suggest as Role Models

At the Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures recognizing individuals and organizations that support the advancement of Whole Person Organizational Cultures. This is a community project so please help. We want to especially feature businesses who are not already in the high profile limelight.

Please send Jerry a note about individuals or organizations that you think might be good candidates to include. His email address is jerry.wagner.ioc@gmail.com.

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Gerald R. Wagner, PhD.

CEO, The Institute of Inspired Organizational Cultures.