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Create sustainable, high-performance cultures and impact the world.

Clarifying the Elusive Concepts of Culture and Climate

By Tim Kuppler and Robert Cooke, Ph.D.

Culture experts and enthusiasts recently gathered in San Francisco for the 2nd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference. A theme of the day was that most leaders recognize culture as a critical factor for success, but it remains an elusive concept and has become an overused word. To kick off the conference, Tim Kuppler interviewed Rob Cooke, CEO of Human Synergistics, to explore culture along with some related constructs (like climate) that are sometimes confused or used interchangeably with it.  Some of Rob’s answers to Tim’s questions are summarized here.

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Culture Diagnosis by Pulse or MRI?

By Louisa Robb

Last month I had the privilege of attending the 2nd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference in San Francisco, hosted by Human Synergistics. One of many reasons for me to take the 12-hour flight from Switzerland was to be in the company of thought leaders in workplace culture, such as Dr. Edgar Schein. Among the many insights he shared, one in particular struck a chord with me: the different methods of surveying for culture data. Dr. Schein described two-dimensional (2D), 3D and 4D views one can take when trying to understand a company’s culture. My experience is similar, and it prompted me to draw out the following analogy.

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The Culture Case for Empathy

By Cynthia Kivland

In an uncertain economy, and in VUCA times, empathy may seem like a “nice-to-have” leadership skill or culture asset. Instead, I propose that it is empathy that often serves as a catalyst for a Constructive culture.

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Seasoned leaders know that the road to a successful change management process is not always a smooth one. Strategy, structure, tech, resources, and capacity all may be in place and positioned for an effective effort. However, what are often missed are factors that can be crucial to success and that can blindside the unwary leader. In two words: Culture and Conflict.

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Interest in the subject of culture continues to grow dramatically. It’s a hot topic, and for good reason. Research shows Constructive cultures lead to increased profitability, satisfaction, performance, and more. The Annual Ultimate Culture Conference gathers top thought leaders in the field of organizational culture and leadership to provide valuable insight into and discussion around this elusive concept for professionals passionate about shaping workplace culture.

We’ve gathered three key takeaways from last year’s conference to help you make decisions that have a positive impact on culture and business results.

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The Beatles—arguably one of the greatest bands in history—did not become that way by accident. Many stories abound about their long time playing nightly in Hamburg, getting to know and be in sync with one another. This could be the epitome of creating a truly high-performing team. But what about leadership?

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The People versus the Power

By Louisa Robb

Recently, I had the privilege to lead a session with a management team where they wanted to explore their interaction style as a leadership committee. This was a global, culturally diverse, senior team—leading over 4,000 staff between them, performing critical daily tasks for the organisation, and defining the future strategy of their division with implications for the company at large.

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Be Engaged, Damn It!

By Darshan Bhatt

There is a huge revolution occurring around the role that HR plays in an organization. The role used to be about the Resource part of HR, but more and more it is becoming about the Human side. This revolution started broadly around company culture and is focusing in on employee engagement.1 This has had a profound impact not only on HR but also on what is expected from employees. People are now constantly asked “Are you engaged yet?” instead of “Is it done yet?” 

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Most people don’t talk about constructive cultures1 and correctional facilities in the same breath. If anything, we might imagine how rough and tumble a correctional facility needs to be to keep everyone, officers and residents alike, safe. The reality is nothing is further from the truth. Not only are constructive corrections cultures the safest; they also have the highest potential for helping those under supervision to turn themselves around.

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Organizational Courage, Part 1 of 2 – What It Is

By Catherine M. (Cathy) Perme

Finding personal courage is hard enough, but what happens when an entire organization needs courage?1 Courage is the will to act in spite of fear or despair, for the purpose of human growth. Fostering organizational courage is difficult but the key lies in being true to vision and values while at the same time embracing current reality, despair, and fears.

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After 30 years of working in global corporate organizations as an organization development professional, there is not much I have not come across. I retired from my corporate roles a couple of years ago and now work as an independent consultant. I have learned a lot from my experiences and would like to share one of my most valuable learnings.

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Four Essentials of Culture Change

By Donna Brighton

Culture change is enormous and complex. There is no easy answer, magic pill or quick fix to create instant culture change. However, leaders do have control over their actions and have more influence than they realize. This is the focus of the Four Essentials of Culture Change.

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Transforming workplace culture: One company’s story

By Carol Montgomery and Linda Sharkey, Ph.D.

If your company is in the process of going through or preparing for a merger or acquisition, then you know firsthand that combining the cultures of two organizations is no easy matter.

Last fall, I had the honor of giving a talk along with Carol Montgomery, Senior VP and Chief Human Resources Officer of York Risk Services Group, at the 1st Annual UltimateCulture Conference in Chicago. Carol and I presented a case study to show how York, following a major acquisition, was able to blend two very different types of workplace cultures.

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It’s a FACT. Hampton’s culture movement is a winner.

By Karl Thomas and Rich Berens

The hospitality industry is competitive. And when similar offerings like updated suites, complimentary breakfasts, pillow-top mattresses and deluxe showerheads are found in hotel after hotel after hotel, how can a brand differentiate itself in order to create loyalty among its guests? How can it draw in new customers—pulling them away from competitors offering comparable amenities? It comes down to one thing that can’t be replicated or copied—the service experience.

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Leading Your Safety Culture with Care

By David Bonenberger and Martin Marquardt

An organization’s culture can sometimes be the difference between life and death. More than 4,500 job-related fatalities occurred in the US (OSHA) in the 2013-14 calendar year. This means that, on an average day, twelve people went to work but did not return home to their families at the end of the day.

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The Monday after Thanksgiving in 2005, November 28, was a cold, windy, and gloomy morning. The atmosphere inside of Tasty Catering’s building was neither cold nor windy, but it was very gloomy. We had moved into a building five times the size of our previous building on the first of that month. For the previous 27 days, my two brothers and I had been involved in constant bickering, which was a result of three alpha males trying to assert their dominance and mark their territory. The tension was evident.  The toll on staff was obvious. As the senior leader, I did not have the wisdom to change. I was a victim of my emotions.

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