Culture shifting

Moving from non-collaborative hierarchy to non-hierarchical collaboration

We’re often approached by people who want a technical solution to a problem they see within their group. It usually goes something like,

“We need a custom [technology/software ask] so our team members can [action] but we need custom [technology/software ask] because of [these issues].”

Turns out the real issue to solve here is the internal issue. Even with well-defined structures, processes and procedures, people can continue work without building trust, skills, knowledge, or experience. We believe this happens when groups don’t take an integrated, whole-system approach to the structural, cultural and interpersonal dynamics within a group. 

Because we’ve worked with so many different kinds of groups over time, we’ve gathered a lot of tools to address just these kinds of collaboration problems. In practice, we help teams (including our own) implement these culture shifting tools in real time. And yes, sometimes it includes technology!

Signs you may need a culture shift

  • Too much time in meetings
  • Things falling through the cracks
  • Decision making process taking too long
  • An increase in interpersonal conflicts and disagreements
  • Lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities – people not knowing what to do or having different ideas of how things should be done
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of full participation
  • Duplication of work/over-work
  • Underperforming teams/groups
  • Leadership having difficulty giving up control/power and trusting others

How we can help

We start with an assessment to suss out where you are now, where you want to be, and a path forward to get you there. Then we’ll build a custom plan for our collaboration which could include:

Organizational consulting; coaching, particularly for organizational leaders challenged by new structures/culture; experiential workshops for building collaborative capacity and culture; group process facilitation for developing key elements, e.g., cultural norms, values; implementation of technology and design tools where necessary.

Our work addresses

  • Hidden hierarchies
  • Unhealthy power dynamics
  • Productivity and efficiency
  • Lack of clear boundaries and explicit norms
  • Insufficient capacity/lack of capacity building
  • Lack of trust, fear-based decision making
  • Structures, culture and group dynamics that perpetuate oppression and inequity (particularly for groups doing social change work)

Benefits to groups

  • Improved collaboration/participation
  • More effective, efficient decision making
  • Greater self-sufficiency
  • Improved relationships
  • Everyone more engaged, focused
  • Greater clarity
  • Build capacity
  • Better results around vision/mission