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Barriers to Organizational Change: The Role of Culture

I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately about their return to office plans. Returning to the office is a major organizational change after 15 months of working from home for most of us.

The people I’m talking to are fairly well dialed in on the tactical, practical aspects. They’ve thought through vaccination status, PPE stations, masks, and social distancing protocols. But they often haven’t thought about what this return might mean for their culture. Most of them don’t have a good read on what their employees think about returning to the office. It got me thinking about the role of curating culture during organizational change. In the case of this particular change, I think it’s important to focus on communicating early, often, and generously.

We are Better Together

At Kadabra, our team has an unofficial mantra: “We’re better together.” I don’t remember who said it first, but every time we put our heads together to solve a problem, work on content, or do strategic planning, we affirm that we are certainly better together.

It’s more than the old adage that two heads are better than one. There’s a synergy that happens when we work together. It’s as if, together, we’re able to tap into a higher wisdom; like Napoleon Hill’s concept of the mastermind principle.

What’s Your Return to Work Plan?

It’s been over a year since we all began to shelter in place, and now everyone’s buzzing about returning to work. An internet search of “return to work” yielded over fifteen billion hits in .6 seconds…with nearly as many opinions about what to do.

At Kadabra, we’re not fans of a “one size fits all” approach. Those don’t typically fit anyone very well.

Understanding the Links Between DEI and Innovation

Two of the things CEOs struggle with the most are how to get employees to be more innovative, and how to build a diverse and inclusive culture. On the surface, innovation and DEI seem unrelated, but they’re not.

I recently read an article in HBR about what’s needed for a successful agile transformation in organizations. The research the authors conducted found that “many large agile initiatives not only miss their goals but also cause organizational disruption—including staff burnout, the loss of key talent, and infighting among teams.”

What’s going wrong? With the help of organizational network analysis—a methodology for mapping how people collaborate—the authors have identified where unforeseen barriers undermine agile initiatives. The main problem they found: Traditional practices for executing agile projects are ineffective.

Inclusion and Belonging at All Three Levels, Part 3: The Role of Trauma

In this part three exploring Kadabra’s Inclusion and Belonging Model, we’ll discuss the role of trauma in the model and in culture in general. You can read part one here and part two here.

“Trauma decontextualized in a person looks like personality.
Trauma decontextualized in a family looks like family traits.
Trauma in a people looks like culture [bodies of culture].”
~Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands

The reason we call our inclusion and belong model a trauma-informed model is because we recognize that trauma exists not only in individual leaders and team members, but in the culture of the organization itself.

Inclusion and Belonging at All Three Levels

PART 2: Be-Do-Know

This blog is the second of a series of articles on inclusion and belonging and our BRAVE Cultures™ model.

In part one of this series, we outlined Kadabra’s Inclusion and Belonging Model. It operates at the personal, interpersonal, and institutional levels. You can work through it one at a time, or simultaneously.

In addition to these three levels, each level uses three lenses:

  1. Who do you want to BE, as both a person and a leader,
  2. What do you want to DO to effect change, and
  3. What do you need to KNOW or learn in order to manage the changes needed
Inclusion and Belonging with BRAVE Cultures™

This blog is the first of a series of articles on inclusion and belonging and our BRAVE Cultures(™) model. You can read the second post in this series here.

Maslow was wrong: physical safety isn’t at the base of the needs pyramid: belonging is. Without belonging, the animal body knows there is no hope for safety.

An existential fear arises when we try to differentiate. We betray ourselves to belong. We abandon our own selves to belong.

Too much…too loud…too emotional…all the things.

Become an Anti-Racist Organization

We fielded a lot of inquiries in 2020 from leaders who said, “We want to become an anti-racist organization. Can you help us?”

Our first response is curiosity. What does that mean to you? Why do you want to become an anti-racist organization? What would be better at your organization if you did this work? How would you know you’d succeeded? That last one is a loaded question because the work never ends. However, there are measurable indicators of success along the way.

Your Search for Diverse Leadership Isn’t a Pipeline Problem

Developing diverse leadership: it’s not a pipeline problem. The default way talent pipelines operate is via the path of least resistance.

People tap the shoulders of people who are top of mind. Who is that? Thanks to unconscious bias, it’s usually white, cis-gendered, tall, reasonably attractive men. That’s because the vast majority of people picture someone like that when asked to “picture a leader.”

There are a number of other factors that go into this path of least resistance, beyond unconscious bias. Men tend to brag about themselves more than women do, generally speaking. People of color often have tremendous skills that aren’t traditionally considered to be leadership skills, but that are greatly in demand in these VUCA times.

Making Friends with Fear

Why on earth would someone want to make friends with fear? Isn’t fear the enemy? A glimpse inside the minds of so many these days: “There’s too much to be afraid of these days: if I focus on fear I’ll never get anything done and I’m already struggling to be productive while working at home and what if I get COVID and I’m trying to corral the kids into online learning and, and, and…” (this is the abridged version).

The problem we have with fear is that we usually do everything within our power to avoid it. Unfortunately there is truth to the old adage, “what we resist, persists.” Fear is trying to tell us something, and the longer we resist it, the longer it takes to get the message. More on that in a minute. But first, it’s important to understand how fear can hijack the brain.