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ROLE MODEL stories feature people and organizations that support humanistic cultures where there is relentless passion for kindness, empathy, dignity, trust, transparency, sharing, happiness, compassion, and love.


Role Models

Whole Person Organizational Cultures©

Employee Happiness, Wellbeing and Engagement

Gerald R. Wagner, PhD.

September, 2015

Table of Contents

Your Opinion Please

I have an idea that I’d like your opinion about. There is not an international association specifically for those interested in organizational cultures. There are many workshops, conferences, blogs, consultants, and businesses but no international association. I’m wondering about starting such an association so am using this venue to do some market research. What do you think about the idea of an International Organizational Culture Association (IOCA)? What thoughts do you have about how to launch it? Would you like to get involved if a next step is taken? My Thoughts

Relentless Employees


It’s often been said that seeing is believing. This particularly applies to QLI – a company that is the five-time #1 Best Place to Work in its community (Omaha, NE) and the premier healthcare center of its kind in the country. Seeing QLI at work offers a first-hand look at the wide-reaching power of a positive corporate culture.

QLI is proud to call Omaha home for more than 25 years. QLI is grateful to be in a city that is accessible to those who want to explore it and to be a part of a community that gives back to those who need it most.

QLI is a rehabilitation provider for individuals who have been severely injured by catastrophic events such as a brain or spinal cord injury. QLI staff members are fond of saying they’re in the business of “rebuilding shattered lives.” And if you ask anyone at QLI, rebuilding lives is serious business. In fact, QLI wouldn’t dream of attempting such a serious task if they couldn’t promise every patient and family that QLI’s therapists and other rehabilitation team members are relentlessly committed to the work they do.

QLI is unrivaled and defines what rehab should be.

How can QLI make this promise? You can’t force employees to adopt a commitment to excellence. QLI’s team members make this choice, however, based on feeling valued, accountable, capable and proud to be a part of such a superlative organization.

QLI is relentless about its seven leadership principles:

  1. Leaders maintain a never-ending focus on mission, culture, and the pursuit of excellence.
  2. Leaders create an environment where staff feel proud of their company- and know that their company is proud of them.
  3. Leaders work hard to help staff be successful at work and in life.
  4. Leaders protect the right of good staff to work with good staff.
  5. Leaders encourage and promote open discussion and analysis as a predicate to decision making.
  6. Leaders deal effectively with conflict.
  7. Leaders encourage others to enjoy their work.
A day in the life: TeamQLI
Stephanie Roob
Stephanie Roob

Building and sustaining an organization that can live up to such laudable standards is the challenge of leadership. According to Stephanie Roob, RD, LMNT, director of nutrition services and a member of QLI’s leadership team, “Leadership is responsible for setting a vision for the type of company you want to be. But every employee has the opportunity to ensure the company is living up to its standards and values.” Stephanie adds, “That’s why we focus so much energy on creating a culture and a company our staff will be proud of. When your employees take genuine pride in their work and their company, business success almost becomes a foregone conclusion.”

Rose Theater

Some examples of Team QLI’s unique efforts include its commitment to the Omaha community. For 13 long-term residents at QLI, going to the Rose Theater in Omaha is not just about seeing a fun play or musical – it’s their job. Residents from QLI’s Assisted Living Apartments and Summit long-term care center are able to donate their time to the theater by greeting play-goers, handing out programs or standing guard at the stage.

Over the past 25 years, QLI’s physical footprint has also grown. It now boasts a scenic 60-acre campus, and on June 11th, they commemorated the ground breaking of an important new addition: Suzanne Scott Family Housing at QLI.

Capable of accommodating up to 14 families inside a two-story, 13,500 square-foot building, the complex will provide the families of clients a free and robustly furnished space in which to reside comfortably on QLI’s campus. Families are another key area of focus at QLI, as they often become the most important asset in therapy services, participating directly in the very programs that foster their loved ones’ independence.

Suzanne Scott Family Housing

Recently, Over 30 clients and graduates of QLI’s spinal cord injury rehabilitation program spent a beautiful day at Woodbine, IA’s Willow Lake campground and recreation area for the company’s largest-ever camping event. A vision executive by their spinal cord injury mentor group, as well as their adaptive sports, residential, nursing, and clinical therapy teams, the event was full of purpose and meaning.

QLI Team Camping

“It’s so special for everyone who attends,” said Rachael Johnson, one of QLI”s spinal cord injury mentors leading the event’s coordination. “The people close to their injuries enjoy something they might have thought they would never get to do again. And the people who have moved on from QLI’s rehab get to come back for an experience with people who mean a lot to them.”

All in all, QLI demonstrates its commitment to excellence in countless ways, and employees and patients alike are proud to be affiliated with an organization that demonstrates such a deep commitment and passion for its purpose.

Once again my thanks to Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant the authors “When Millennials Take Over” who made me aware of QLI. ROLE MODELS depends upon friends to make us aware of exception organizations that practice Whole Person Organizational Cultures©.

Marcella Bremer is another fabulous IOC teacher. She is from the Netherlands. As an author, speaker, and culture & change consultant she helps professionals make a difference at work by positive leadership, inclusive change and cultures of kindness.

She founded the online Leadership & Change Magazine. She thought the emerging field of Positive Leadership, Culture & Change needed an inspiring magazine to connect a growing community of leaders, consultants, coaches and scholars who want to do things in a 21st century way.

She writes about positive leadership, culture and change with a focus on ways to lead and develop yourself and others (to become whole and healed), and to create healthy workplace cultures where people thrive (instead of suffer or survive) and can handle constant change if needed.

She believes that we need kinder cultures at work and in our communities that engage, empower and energize people and that practice respect, kindness and inclusive dialog. We need inclusive change that engages everyone, so we can tackle top-down management that hinders creativity with command and control attitudes.

Marcella also co-founded OCAI online that provides Cameron & Quinn’s validated Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) online and there is a free version to help organizations understand and shape their culture. To learn more about Marcella check out her web site.

Morning Star Colleagues Are Self-Managed

Morning Star Co.

Located in both northern and southern California (the world's most prolific tomato growing regions), The Morning Star Company isn’t just another bulk tomato producer. The company’s commitment to its customers is unparalleled, and the team is dedicated to providing a superlative product quality along with excellent service, all at competitive prices. Team members take an active role in making the lives of their customers better through cost effectiveness, excellent service and superior customer support.

Most notably, Morning Star Colleagues are self-managed, and the company’s policy was even featured in the Harvard Business Review.

Harvard Business Review

The Morning Star Company was built on a foundational philosophy of Self-Management. The company’s founders envisioned an organization of self-managing professionals who would initiate communication and coordination of activities with colleagues, customers, suppliers and fellow industry participants, absent directives from others.

At Morning Star, Colleagues find joy and excitement by utilizing their unique talents, then weaving those talents into activities which complement and strengthen fellow Colleagues' activities. Additionally, Colleagues are expected to take personal responsibility and hold themselves (and other Colleagues) accountable for achieving the enterprise Mission.

The company holds this vision dear, and is committed to perfecting the organization through the principles and systems that it’s endeavored to implement within its affiliates. To learn more about Self-Management, take a look at the Self-Management Institute.

One of the things that makes Morning Star special is that all Colleagues commit to a set of Principles. The following are paraphrases to the full language. Click here for the full version of the Colleague Principles.

  1. Mission: to produce tomato products which consistently achieve the quality and service expectations of our customers in a cost effective, environmentally responsible manner.
  2. Individual Goals and Teamwork: We hereby agree to commit ourselves to the pursuit of perfection with regard to our integrity, competence and individual responsibility.
  3. Personal Responsibility and Initiative: We agree to take full responsibility for our actions, as well as those of fellow Colleagues and our overall mission.
  4. Tolerance: It is agreed that…differences between individual Colleagues, which do not directly affect our Mission, will be respected and tolerated.
  5. Direct Communication and Gaining Agreement: Differences between human beings are a natural and necessary aspect of life…To gain agreement and move forward, we agree to utilize the following process:
    1. We agree to privately engage with the other Colleague as soon as practical and attempt to resolve any differences to our mutual satisfaction.
    2. If either of the Colleagues do not feel the matter has been resolved to their satisfaction, then both of them agree to engage one other Colleague as soon as practical…
    3. If either of the Colleagues still do not feel the matter has been resolve to their satisfaction, then both of them agree to engage with a contingent of approximately three (3) to ten (10) Colleagues appropriate for the particular matter.
    4. If the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, a summary of the issue… shall be immediately prepared, signed by both parties and the local CLOU Colleagues, and forwarded to the President of Morning Star.
  6. Caring and Sharing: To the degree Colleagues care about themselves, their friends and relatives, follow Colleagues, suppliers, customers, the environment, the Mission, Principles and facilities, etc., each of us will come closer to achieving our personal goals.
  7. Doing What is Right: Live, speak and endeavor to find the truth.
Gold Medal

Overall, Morning Star is committed to becoming an Olympic Gold Medal performer in the tomato industry, and its Self-Management platform nurtures the talents of employees and help the company reach greater heights. In the long run, it’s providing opportunities for happier, more harmonious lives for team members and people the company serves.

What's New With Phil?

Phil Clothier the CEO of Barrett Values Centre is one of our amazing teachers.

Barrett Values Centre

Our teachers are always doing great and fun things and we love to share their stories with our friends. The following are Phil’s words for what’s new with him.

In mid-July, I found myself at Manchester airport on the way to Singapore to support the release of the 2015 Singapore National Values Assessment results. While walking through the terminal building I had the thought, “I just need to get through the next three days and then I will be home”. I stopped and realized how dishonoring that thought was. It totally undermined the work that had been done by amazing people in Singapore and others around the world to create a powerful dialogue for values driven society. In that moment, I created a new thought, “How can I be present in each moment so that through my being and doing I can support and be part of the unfolding magic of this work”.

What did unfold over the following days was truly magical. We saw a set of results that showed in the previous three years (since the 2012 results) values in the current culture such as uncertainty about the future and deteriorating values had been replaced by peace, education opportunities and effective health care. We could also see a subtle by important shift in personal values that showed compassion and caring for others was growing.

Phil at a press briefing before the main launch event.

Just before I took the stage at the launch event, someone tapped me on the shoulder and handed me her business card. On the front of the card in big letters was written “Hello! My name is Yee Mun – Let’s change the world TOGETHER”. She just handed me the card and smiled. Yee Mun’s act and message made me smile and warmed my heart. I was the only non-Singaporean in the room and I knew I had permission in that moment to share important messages about the positive shifts in society and the challenges still ahead. The room was full of people from government, academia, business, NGOs and the media. People from all sector of society had gathered to consider the future of their nation based on the values of the people. Later that day and in the weeks that followed there was a constant flow of news articles on TV, radio and the press.

On the following day I experienced one of the high points in my career. I was in a car listening to a breakfast phone in radio show. The presenter was asking people to phone in to talk about their own values, their thoughts on the results and what actions they were willing to take to make their family, workplace and country more values driven. There were many contributions in a lively and inspiring show where people spoke from their hearts and made commitments. Knowing that our work had been a catalyst to creating such an outcome was an amazing feeling. I love my job!

In closing, I want to thank Vicent Ho and his team at aAdvantage Singapore for their passion, dedication and commitment to bringing this work to the country.

Creating Memories and Stories

WD-40 WD-40

According to CEO Garry Ridge, in the long term, values are arguably the most important aspect of working at WD-40 – more important even than performance. This is an organization that’s committed to a specific set of values, the most important of which is doing the right thing. There’s little ambiguity there, and this concept allows team members to question what’s going on and always return to that core guiding principle.

Garry Ridge, President/CEO – Values and Memories

The company is also based on democratic principles, and with these principles, comes accountability. To that end, the company asks every “Tribe member” (what they call their employees) to own and act passionately on the Maniac Pledge, which states: "I am responsible for taking action, asking questions, getting answers, and making decisions. I won't wait for someone to tell me. If I need to know, I'm responsible for asking. I have no right to be offended that I didn't 'get this sooner.' If I'm doing something others should know about, I'm responsible for telling them."

The list of corporate values that drive the company include:

  1. Doing the right thing. This includes asking critical questions, being honest in word and deed, being reliable and acting on the company’s core values and beliefs.
  2. Creating positive lasting memories in all relationships. The WD-40 Company team believes in leaving every interaction with a positive memory. This attitude applies to fellow tribe members, shareholders, customers and everyone else they come in contact with.
  3. Making it better than it is today. The company strives for continual improvement, always looking for new ideas, solutions and ways to progress.
  4. Succeeding as a Tribe while excelling as individuals. The company is committed to collective success, but prides itself on individual excellence and team member’s unique contributions.
  5. Owning it and passionately acting on it. WD-40 company tribe members put their hearts into their work, and believe that all are owners of the company’s treasures.
  6. Sustaining the WD-40 economy. The company exists to create and protect economic value for Tribe members and stakeholders, and all involved accept that responsibility.

As far as work environment, Tribe members work hard and laugh a lot, taking their work seriously but not themselves. Making memories is a key element of the WD-40 company experience.

Garry believes that when people are content with their work, feel acknowledged, and see they make a difference, they have a unique attitude that leads to positive results for the company as a whole – and positive memories.

One of the ways the company tracks its efforts is with an employee opinion survey. The surveys have demonstrated that the vast majority of employees feel that they’re treated with respect and dignity, which says it all about what it’s like to work for this remarkable company. WD-40 Company is proud of their 93.7% employee engagement.

Here is one example of personal thoughts from a WD40 tribe member. Click here to see several more.

A Conference on Culture

In the spirit of cooperation we include upcoming conferences on culture. This is one to look at.

"Making Money Is Happiness; Making Other People Happy Is Super-Happiness."

Prof. Muhammad Yunus

Nobel laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus and the founder of the Grameen Bank says money and profit for one's own development cannot be the sole incentive for doing business but rather there can be joy in solving people's problems. The economist told this to the Social Business Youth Summit 2015 at the Krishibid Institution. The Nobel peace prize winner called on the youth to unleash their untapped entrepreneurial skills to create businesses instead of running after jobs.

Jerry's Corner

ROLE MODELS articles usually refer to purpose and values. I’ve decided that you should know them for the Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures and thus also for ROLE MODELS.

Our purpose: Make it easy for every employee to find ideas for building positive workplaces from people and organizations who have done it.

Our values:

  1. Kinships.
  2. Dignity.
  3. Integrity.
  4. Different.
  5. Enthusiasm.
  6. Evangelistic.
  7. Optimism.

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

Click here to watch videos of our curriculum faculty. Our complete curriculum with videos and suggested reading materials are free for all email addresses ending in .edu and also for faith based and/or charitable non-profit organizations with .org email. For others the fee is only $79 per year.

Gerald R. Wagner, PhD.

Director, The Institute of Inspired Organizational Cultures.

© 2015 The Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures, Inc. All rights

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