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Ultimate Culture Webinar – Tapping Into 15 Years of Changing Organizational Cultures Across the Globe

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Original Date: October 17, 2018
In this webinar, Silke Zanker and Ricardo Gil will discuss myths surrounding culture and strategies for change based on 15 years of global culture transformation and their partnership with Human Synergistics.

Silke and Ricardo will share Axialent’s Conscious Business principles for attaining sustainable business results and cover key points of culture change journeys, including:

  • The myth that culture change takes forever.It doesn’t have to take three years to see results. What are some of the quick wins you can start with? What are the levers you can identify to get the most traction?
  • Embedding culture change in an organization. Conscious leadership is needed to reinforce culture change in an organization. Values, purpose, mission and vision are critical focus points for establishing a new culture. How do you help your leaders identify gaps, get aligned and model the way?
  • The culture ROI.What is the value of a strong, healthy culture for your organization? How do you quantify it? We will share the results of an independent study that quantifies the ROI for one of Axialent’s culture change projects.

Tim Kuppler, Director of Culture & Organization Development for Human Synergistics, will facilitate the discussion and questions from attendees.

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Transcript

Tim Kuppler:

Hello everyone, thank you for attending our ultimate culture webinar series A. I’m Tim Kuppler with Human Synergistics and I’ve really been looking forward to this specific Webinar. We have with us, some senior leaders from  Axialent Corporation. They are a global culture transformation firm. We’ve been partnering with them for 12 or 13 years, so they’re definitely, definitely not posing as culture experts.

Tim Kuppler:

They’ve learned a tremendous amount over their careers and they’re here to share a little bit about what they’ve learned. Go ahead and submit questions as they arise and I’ll try to work them into the discussions and then we’ll take some questions at the end. But today with me, we have Richi and Silke. Welcome and please introduce yourself.

Richi Gil:

Thank you. Hello. Hello everybody, an honor to be here with all of you. As Tim said, we’ve been doing this for 15 years now. Started … I’m one of the founding partners of Axialent, started in February 2003. So it’s been already 15 years doing this in the market. It’s an honor, a pleasure. And I hope that we can share some stories with you that you will connect to and that you will find a value for yourselves, for your companies and for your teams. So really happy to be here. Over to you Silke.

Silke Zanker:

Thank you Richi. Yeah, happy to be here as well. I’ve been with Axialent for around seven years now, and before that in the corporate world, mainly in branding and marketing. And within Axialent, I’m responsible for impact creation and my team and myself. So we look after solutions, product development, and the Axialent University, which is the readiness for our consultants. So Richie and I, we work hand in hand with our consultants, with the solutions and then obviously with our clients.

Tim Kuppler:

All right, outstanding. And what’s exciting about your organization is your global, working across many continents. So you’ve seen quite a range of different issues and challenges and have learned to overcome them. So go ahead, let’s get started.

Silke Zanker:

Yeah. So like you said, in our team, we work globally so most of our clients have presence all over the world and they are multinational organizations, and we work with them in helping them transform their cultures and everything based on their platform of conscious business. So conscious business is the philosophies, our perspective on the world and on business. And we do believe that if we, all together, raise the way we do business and we do it in a conscious way, that we can have cultures of excellence, so businesses that are successful, but also cultures of trust and mutual encouragement and where people really thrive and live their purpose. Because what is deeply embedded in the work that we do is that in our mission we want people to, yeah, to really express who they are through the work they do, and do that in a skillful way, but really connect to that true essence of who they are and the gifts they bring.

Tim Kuppler:

Sounds great.

Silke Zanker:

A couple of our … a few of our clients, not so easy always to make a selection after 15 years, but just to show broad range of the different industries that we work with, different countries literally from Latin America to Europe, to the United States, to Australia, Asia. Our clients are everywhere and in many different industries. And so that gives us the experience of knowing there are certain things that work, no matter which industry you’re in. And there’s patterns that we can say they are important when you look to change your culture. And that’s what we’d like to share. We want to share what are the levers to change culture, what have we learned, what works, what is more challenging, and also what’s the impact? So how do you measure the return on the investment? Richi, anything you want to add to that?

Richi Gil:

I know I was listening to you Silke. And I was remembering that, yes, this is our point of view. And one of the things we like to say in our workshops to our clients that it’s all about stories. So this is also a story that we tell, and that we believe, in which we believe in, and that have helped other companies. But please, don’t listen to this as we are claiming that we have the truth on how to shape the culture into a conscious culture, into an effective culture. That’s what I was thinking Silke. So, would you like to explain a little bit about this case that we brought and then we get into the how you do what we do?

Tim Kuppler:

Sounds good.

Silke Zanker:

Do you want to go ahead Richi?

Richi Gil:

Sure. Well, this is just one case for you to notice that culture … We say that an effective culture is such if it does support the business strategy. So, we don’t do culture change for its own sake. It’s always at the service of some strategy execution, which is at the service of the pursuit of the mission within ethical values. That’s what we stand for. So culture has to support the execution of the strategy, pursuing the mission. So, here’s just a very, very summarized a slide that shows that our intervention had, as a consequence, reduced stress in many of the individuals that participated in the program and the process, that there was increased engagement, motivation, more collaboration, more creativity.

Richi Gil:

And at the same time, as presented by an independent study done in the company to test whether this program was having traction or not for the company, there was a savings in excess of 100 million dollars just because people started to behave differently to adopt a different behavioral norms. They started to ask more questions to each other, so decisions became more agile and more innovative and they could make decisions faster and more effectively. And this resulted in a positive impact on the business.

Tim Coupler:

Outstanding.

Silke Zanker:

And we worked with about, I think, two and a half to three thousand managers directly and them leading around 10,000. So it was quite a massive impact in the culture. And also then obviously, that has a ripple effect for after the study. But we thought we share this to start with, to kind of guide also questions, and move into our conversation.

Tim Coupler:

Sounds good. And how long did you work with that organization?

Richi Gil:

We worked…

Silke Zanker:

We worked with them about two to three years.

Richi Gil:

Yeah. Yeah, several years. Three years, I believe, at least.

Silke Zanker:

Yeah. Yeah.

Tim Kuppler:

All right. So what is…

Richi Gil:

So, we like to present this slide in our interventions. And normally we would ask people what do they see here? And you get lots of response. Tim, if we ask you the question, “What do you see?” What do you respond?

Tim Kuppler:

I see a school of fish, most of them moving in the same direction, but a few going the other way, a lot going on there.

Richi Gil:

And weeds?

Tim Kuppler:

Yes, absolutely. Water.

Richi Gil:

Well, we have asked this question many, many times and very few people notice there is water there, but water is what … water to fish is what culture is to organizations, because you can’t see it until it turns toxic. Then it becomes very, very visible. So the conclusion is that you cannot not have a culture. I mean, culture will develop no matter what. You can choose, however, to have a conscious culture, an effective culture, as I said before, that will support the strategy.

Richi Gil:

But you will have a culture because we, human beings, we are social beings. And as we come together with our own stories, we start to develop social stories, and these sorts of stories are developed into culture norms that decide what’s accepted. How do we do things around here? What is rewarded, what is punished? So people pay attention to these norms, and they adapt in order to fit in. It’s as simple as that, and then as complex as that.

Tim Kuppler:

So just real quick, I know we see a lot where leaders think there has to be some huge problem or some big issue to start understanding culture. And many are not progressive as far as, yes, every senior leader should be understanding this topic and allowing that understanding that influence their decisions. Are you seeing the same thing where people kind of think, “Oh, I only need to work on this if there’s a problem”?

Richi Gil:

You’re good.

Silke Zanker:

I think you do. Yes, we do certainly. What is an interesting conversation then to have is to say, “Well, what is your next level even if you don’t have a problem today?” Because what we all know, and we all talk about it a lot, is that the world will never change as slow as it changes today. It’s only going to go faster from here on. And so, you can’t actually afford to wait until you have a problem. And so we have conversations with our clients around, “So what is that next level of performance, of enjoyment in your job, of service to the world, service to your clients.”

Silke Zanker:

And the moment you start having that conversation is that gap, that doesn’t always have to be a problem or a challenge. It can be an inspirational gap as well. So, but yes, clearly.

Richi Gil:

It has to be…

Silke Zanker:

And the more you can measure it…

Richi Gil:

I’m sorry. So, go ahead.

Silke Zanker:

Yeah, the more you can measure it and the more you can show from the very beginning that this is where you are right now and this is where you could be. That is a real motivational factor even for people that say, “We don’t have a problem right now.”

Richi Gil:

I was gonna say that what research is showing consistently Tim is that the two most important factors in establishing effective behavioral norms, so cultural norms, is a culture that’s innovative towards the insides and then it has adaptability towards the outside. It’s precisely because of what Silke has said, that the world changing at an ever faster speed. So the more your culture can adapt to the external and be innovative towards the internal, a much more effective culture you will have.

Tim Kuppler:

That makes sense. Yeah. Many would say you’re not even aware of your culture unless you have to adapt to something. Otherwise, it’s like the water you’re saying. Well, let’s go on here. So where do you start?

Richi Gil:

Okay. Can you move to the next slide?

Tim Kuppler:

Sure.

Richi Gil:

So where do you start? And of course, we recommend you start from what we call the very beginning, which is understanding the current culture. We like to say, in our philosophy, that a problem is not … Describing a problem is not a reason for intervention itself, because many times people describe all the problems they have. And that gives us the information, but does not give us the energy to suggest an intervention.

Richi Gil:

What defines the energy for an intervention is the difference between the description of the problem the person or group of leaders make, as compared to what do they … What would they like to have happen? What’s their aspiration? That defines what we call a gap. Without a gap, there is no intervention.

Richi Gil:

So, as you know very well because we use the Human Synergistic tools a lot, we measure the culture in terms of behavioral norms. But also, we measure the current condition of the culture, and then we work with the leaders in the room to define what is the ideal culture that you would like to aspire. The comparison between those two provide us with the opportunity for intervention.

Tim Kuppler:

So I know you believe in the depth of the assessments and the importance of understanding what people value, what’s the actual culture and the norms. Why, over the years, didn’t you go for the quick and dirty survey or the kind of “this is too hard, this is too deep”? Shouldn’t it just be simple? What’s Axialent’s view on that?

Silke Zanker:

Well, I think, looking back to what Richi had said earlier, what are the elements of culture? I think a lot of the messages that people perceive around culture, they are nonverbal. And so then they may not be as obvious. So what you see when you just do a quick and dirty may not really be the root cause and that is our experience. So now we do … We work with all the tools. We do qualitative interviews and we really like …

Silke Zanker:

When we do a diagnostic, we’re already there, look at the depths of what are the mindsets, what is driving people’s behavior and what’s the impact of the individual as well, because you need that information when you speak with the individual leaders to help them say, “You are part of that culture and you are impacting it whether you want it or not.” And in order to have that conversation, it’s like, do you want to run your business just on kind of an assumption? You’re like, “Oh, let’s just see.” No, you don’t.

Silke Zanker:

You do want to have as much data as possible. And so that’s been our, that in the long term it really pays off if you pay attention in the beginning.

Tim Kuppler:

Okay, and you…

Richi Gil:

It brings…

Tim Kuppler:

Go ahead.

Richi Gil:

I was going to say that this integration between the quantitative and the qualitative provides a lot of nuance into the source of the behaviors that you are serving in the company. So for example, let me give you an example. One of the questions we were asking with your instruments is, “To what extent are people expected to point out flaws in this company?” And that, when you dig deeper into that, is that coming from a desire to show up as … from a desire to be perfect, from a desire to compete with others, from a desire to please your boss?

Richi Gil:

What is the origin for pointing out source? And depending on what people tell you, the interaction can go in very different directions.

Tim Kuppler:

Absolutely. So yeah, I think that’s the important thing is, even as Human Synergistics, we’re not saying do the survey, read the tea leaves, take the actions. No, like Silke was saying, it exposes things that you may not be talking about or may not even be part of the conversation. You may not have even thought about it. But then when it’s combined with the qualitative to go deeper, as you say Richi, then then the understanding starts to come. But, you can’t do the quantitative without the qualitative. The quantitative is an option to really understand it. But you can’t solve the problem without doing the qualitative. Right?

Richi Gil:

Absolutely.

Silke Zanker:

Yeah. Yeah.

Richi Gil:

And we like to say it simple and not easy. The instruments, they look simple. But they portray a complexity behind it that you need a deep knowledge of how human beings think, feel and act in order to be able to intervene with the appropriate levers.

Tim Kuppler:

Okay. So we had a question come in about how to measure the culture and also measure correlation to results and business results. And I’ll give a quick answer to some of the things that we’ve been doing lately and then you can add to that. But for instance, we have a project now across 2100 stores. And what they’re doing is they’re providing us the financial results across all the stores. They’re providing sales numbers, turnover numbers and other things. And we’re able to analyze and be able to show, well, are there more constructive inclusive teams and cultures? Are we seeing better business results are not?

Tim Kuppler:

So, especially with large organizations from the very start, we’re often able to show that, yes, you’re already seeing some of the positive results from more constructive ways of operating, but we haven’t found the ways to spread those and to make those things the norm. So we can learn internally. So a lot of people think, “Well, we can use these tools and we have to bring all these new things.” Well no, the qualitative and quantitative can understand where there’s bright spots, where things are working.

Tim Kuppler:

So right from the very start, there’s measurement and connection to business results. And then of course, over time, if we have let’s say 500 of those stores over x performance level now, well maybe a year from now, two years from now, it can be half the stores or whatever it might be. What have you seen as far as connections to business performance and using the culture tools in combination? Richi?

Richi Gil:

Yes. I was thinking exactly that Tim, because in the same way we have a point of view on what affects culture in a positive way, in a way that will support the strategy execution, I believe that your tools do have a very clear point of view. And you say it’s better to have more constructive behaviors and less defensive behaviors, and we completely support that. What we have found is that as the culture, as the leadership … We want to talk about leadership in a minute because we believe leadership is the main lever in a company to shape the culture and to shape the culture quickly. Because one of the promises that we came into this Webinar with is that it doesn’t have to take forever to shape the culture.

Richi Gil:

You can start to work with the senior leaders. And we like to say leaders cast a long shadow. So as leaders start to shape the behaviors, the way that they show up, not what they say, because people don’t pay a lot of attention to what leaders say, they will watch very carefully what leaders do. So it’s values in action, not espoused values that they will be observing. When that starts to shift, that can create a ripple effect in the organization that helps you shape the company really quickly.

Tim Kuppler:

Awesome. So what-

Silke Zanker:

I think, Tim, we’ve had many of these conversations about the importance of linking any culture work you do to the business straight away, to business processes. So when we work with our clients, we look at, so what are the key business processes? Is it like how does business planning go differently-

Silke Zanker:

How does business planning go differently in a year after you’ve had intervention compared to the year before? How are you recruiting? And, in particular, when you work with a leader in that team, so we’re gonna come to that how you could write that down, then you can really see what’s the critical business process that if that was gonna go better than before you would really see results. And then you can have an eye on that from the very beginning like with your example with the stores. And then you can get the data, you know what to measure actually.

Tim Kuppler:

Alright. Well let’s continue. I already got questions about do you work with leadership, do you work with processes and I think, in your answers, you just talked about both sides being important. So let’s go on to the next part.

Tim Kuppler:

What about these 90-day sprints? You can’t change culture fast. Why would we even talk about 90-day sprints? What’s this about?

Silke Zanker:

Yes. Well, it’s about really looking at how the world moves these days and, like you said, the world moves fast and I think in every organization, you may have people who are the champions for your change and you have people that are not convinced and it is important to show results fairly quickly.

Silke Zanker:

Very few people will say, “Yes, no problem, let’s just wait three years until we see the results.” So the way to work with sprints would we say is, “So let’s look at your teams. Let’s look at, maybe, functional intact teams but maybe also teams around projects and what are the ones that will have the biggest impact on the business in the coming 12 months.” And we identify those, and then we work in 90-day sprints with these teams and we say, “So if the behavior of that team changes, if they do things differently, what’s the impact you can see?” And then you can work with sprints in parallel, you can work with them in different functions with different teams and create a culture change, basically break it down from a massive project to smaller projects and see smaller short-term results than if you stack them they really accelerate the change.

Tim Kuppler:

Okay. So could you give me an example of how that kinda plays out. I mean people get the work it would be, you’re working with process. Give me an example.

Richi Gil:

Tim, I wanna track it down, so, precisely with an example. I think you’re gonna know this, how simple it is and then at the same time it’s not easy. But it’s really simple.

Richi Gil:

Let’s say you have come up with some behavioral norms because you want to support a certain strategy, execution, that a group of leaders, they decide together with us, we coach them for that. We’re gonna listen to each other, we are going to build on each other’s opinions, and those become what we call the standards for the team. And we establish certain behavioral standards.

Richi Gil:

So once we accept the standards, what happens is we participate in the business meetings as the intact teams run their business and we become, because they ask to become and to be the gate keepers of these behavioral standards.

Richi Gil:

So the second step after finding the standards is that as the leader of the team, and even as a member of the team, you demonstrate those standards because if you define them, and then you don’t demonstrate them, let’s say the leader starts interrupting people, not listening to people, not respecting people in the meeting, that completely loses variability. So everybody will go cynical and will not believe that they really want to do that.

Richi Gil:

So demonstrate the standards is a second very important step. And then somebody, let’s say one of the team members, there’s a conversation going on and a team member interrupts another team member, and then nobody says something, and then nobody raises his hand to say, “Listen, you are not upholding the behavioral standard that we all agreed to uphold,” then comes the third step of changing a culture norm or behavioral norm because you explained to them that unless they’re willing to demand from each other the honoring of the standards, so you define the standard, you demonstrate the standard, and then you demand to each other that people will operate upholding the standard because if you don’t do that, then the cultural norm will not take roots.

Richi Gil:

And then, you demand that they do the same with their own teams. That that becomes the behavioral norms for other teams so you delegate this standard and that is what makes the standard go viral. So and then it becomes a new and verdict culture norm in the organization.

Tim Kuppler:

Sure. So how, we have some questions coming in like, “Well, what if the leader doesn’t wanna change their behavior?” Or “Where does the individual play into this and individual performance?”

Tim Kuppler:

You talked about a lot of work with the teams. Where does the individual performance tie in, where’s leaders that may not wanna change, how’s that play into your process?

Silke Zanker:

Well the individual plays a very important role. So we do work always in parallel with the team and then we work with the individuals through coaching, through maybe doing an LSI or a leadership impact and to really help them understand what is my impact either way on the culture and if I’m changing my behavior, how is the impact changing with that.

Silke Zanker:

And it really creates, I think it creates a beautiful traction also for teams when they work together, if everybody knows why we’re doing the work individually because you have to do that work yourself. So we believe it starts with yourself, it starts with how you influence others with your team and how it ripples out into the organization cause, yeah, very important in our work.

Tim Kuppler:

So pretty important concept with- So you’re assessing the org, understanding the gaps, you’re working with teams but not all teams. You’re focusing in on some sprints with specific groups, whether that’s the top team or division or whatever it might be.

Tim Kuppler:

In parallel you work with individuals on those teams, so you kinda got that individual, team, and org work all in alignment. We’re trying to shift behavior working with teams and individuals but where’s the translating it to action and the systems, the processes like Silke was talking earlier? Where’s that thick cause I believe these 90-day sprints and the least your language around them has kind of evolved as far as, well we’ve been working with teams but who says they’re gonna put things into action from a process standpoint and really imbed new structures and processes. So where’s that come in to the transformation process? Richie, what do say about that side?

Richi Gil:

Yeah, if you mind I would like to just go one step back because I think there was an important question: What happens if the leader doesn’t wanna change his behavior?

Richi Gil:

And that happens many times. And then we have this conversations with the leaders about, “What would you like? What’s your aspiration?” And what we find is that when you get into an inspirational conversation, many leaders, they want to go with job, they want to have an impact, they want to laeve a legacy that stays there even when they are gone. We confront the leaders with their own sense that we are here for a limited time. So the question is, “How would you like to be remembered? How would you like the people you touch, the clients you touch, the teams you touch be a little better off once you’re no longer there?” When you start to engage in that kind of conversations, many leaders start to realize that you don’t have to, like in the tools, we tell you is, “Look, you don’t have to be assertive, you don’t have to be red, you don’t have to be aggressive. You can be assertive in a constructive way. There are blue ways, there are constructive ways of saying what you think, understanding what about the how’s of things and then negotiate it to come to an agreement.

Richi Gil:

So they start to see how they do not have to give up their drive, their passion for excellence, but they’re connected to something that’s bigger than themselves. And that, many times, created inspiration for those leaders to want to do the work because the person who asked the question is correct. If the leader doesn’t want to do the work, there is no work to be done. But our job is to invite and to inspire the leader that, maybe, there is an aspiration he can fulfill by doing the work.

Tim Kuppler:

So you’ve coached them like that, and let’s say it works for five out of ten, seven out of ten, but then the others are going back into the teams and you’re noticing that, “Hey, they’re not really taking action on what we’ve talked about.” How do you hold leaders accountable cause there’s always gonna be those outliers, right?

Richi Gil:

Yes. and then you go. Cause we’ve had these cases, many of them. When the leader really does not wanna do the work and he does not want to consider other possibilities of looking at the world, we like to say that we look at the world through filters. And we have a point, some points, so we will have a filter of curiosity is better than a filter of certainty. A filter of unconditional responsibility is better than a filter of feeling a victim of circumstances. Now, if leaders like to blame others for their challenges, if they don’t wanna take responsibility, if they don’t wanna be accountable, if they want to continue being certain about the world, at one point, we might just have to walk away because you cannot work with somebody that doesn’t wanna work with you.

Tim Kuppler:

Silke?

Silke Zanker:

Yeah. What I’d like to add is something that Richie mentioned earlier when he gave an example of how we work. So I do think, from our experience, it is critical that we are part of the business conversations. So in everyday meetings that, we facilitate meetings, that we arrive there where the business happens. And I think that’s the opportunity to then also show, really clearly show, what’s the impact of behavioral changes and what’s the impact if you don’t wanna change.

Silke Zanker:

And so I see our job as being a sounding board, as helping people uphold the mirror. They have to do the work themselves and that’s pretty clear but also, so you can do a lot. Let’s say you do workshops, you do individual work, but really where then the rubber hits the road is when the leaders are in their environment and they have meetings with each others and we are bound, we are able to show them the successes but also the areas where there’s still development to be done. And that helps a lot of leaders. But then, also, you can only do as much as you can do and then if people don’t want to…

Richi Gil:

And it’s also true, Silke, that some leaders, because these guys as you saw, Tim, before, this can have a huge financial impact, a positive part, that they get interested because of that. So it’s not because they believe in being more conscious leaders, and here we say, “Well sometimes you start with the right things for the wrong reasons.” But once you start, and you can see the benefits of becoming a more conscious leader, you see that you don’t have to give up the financial impact and you can do both. But sometimes, you just have to start the process. And many leaders start it because they want to get better business results.

Tim Kuppler:

Well, isn’t that the tipping point you’re trying to get to with these sprints is showing results? The results actually precede the culture change because these other groups, these other individuals aren’t gonna copy the approach or do similar things if it didn’t work in the first sprint. So is the sprint concept, that we can actually see results in 90 days, enough to be able to at least get other groups encouraged in doing more or is there some other purpose for this sprint?

Silke Zanker:

For me it’s two things. It’s A) to show results but also to motivate people to do the work. And that happens really fast if you’re in the business versus you do long interventions and people don’t quite know where all of this is going.

Silke Zanker:

And as we know, I think that you need to interweave a culture change in a way that, or at least I think that that’s beneficial for the business where it’s not like yet another thing to do. It’s like we are running our business, this is what we’re hired for and so our job is to help the leaders to help that interweave with the business.

Silke Zanker:

So part of it may be interventions, where they go for two days and learn some new skills and behaviors, but part of it is to clearly show it can happen as you’re working on the business.

Tim Kuppler:

I wanna make sure we get a connection to the processes that might have to change, or the decisions that the group’s making to solve business problems. Where does that more process side, what we’re actually implementing to move the business measure, where’s that connect with the leadership, the coaching, and these other things that you’ve been talking about so far? Richie?

Richi Gil:

There are many processes, Tim, that are directly related to the kind of culture you are creating or the culture norms you are creating so, for example, how do you recruit people? How do you hire people? What kind of profiles do you bring into the organization? And then, how do you compensate people? Because let’s say you are trying to create collaboration in the company and then you bring in lone rangers that like to work by themselves and they are very autonomous people that they don’t like to work in teams. That is giving totally the counter, the opposite message about what do you really care about.

Richi Gil:

And then the other is the succession process. Which people do you promote? How do you pay your bonuses? Those are processes also that in a way reflect, the artifacts that reflect what’s important to you. And the way you pay bonuses will say a lot about what kind of culture norm you’re trying to create.

Tim Kuppler:

So will those be addressed as part of the sprints, or in parallel with the sprints?

Richi Gil:

What we will do is, you see, processes are like artifacts of the culture. In order to change a process, we believe that, first, the leaders, they have to shift their, we call it a mental molars or mindsets, their filters through which they look at the team and at the challenges they are facing.

Richi Gil:

Once they have shifted those filters, so to speak, then we can support them in engaging in conversations around the processes. They are gonna change the processes but the processes that they are gonna get to from a different level of consciousness are not the same processes they would get to from the parallel consciousness. So once they’re looking with different eyes, then they will come up with many different ideas of how to change those processes and we support them. It is then that- we’re not process experts. We are experts in supporting them changing the processes.

Tim Kuppler:

Okay. Let me go…

Silke Zanker:

If you go to the next slides, Tim, does that them speaks to what Richie just said. And so here you see how we build our approaches, build on the platform of conscious business and what Richie just mentioned is, so when you look at the BE level which is the platform, which is your mindset, how you look at the world, your attitude, whether you’re more red, green, or blue, and obviously we suggest it is more effective and leads to better outcomes if you come from a blue mindset and attitude, that then leads to processes and skills that can be applied throughout the organization.

Silke Zanker:

And so if I look through a blue lens, to speak in your language, I will define a process in a different way. So that’s why our work always starts at looking at the mindsets, how emotional mastery, how much awareness do you bring to your business, and then you look at the skills and how you do the things.

Richi Gil:

Iceberg here that you see has the human dimension, which would be the technical dimension. So processes, they have a technical dimension, but they also have a human dimension.

Richi Gil:

So what Silke was saying is first, we build the process capabilities which is a platform so that once enough, so that then conversations, the way people solve differences, and the way they execute which we call impeccable coordination will be built on much more robust process capabilities. And then the processes on the technical side will be affected too.

Tim Kuppler:

Okay. So you talked about the work with individuals, the work with the team and the sprint, you talked about getting kind of, it sounds like an aha and more of an understanding and consciousness about their own behavior and what’s needed. Where’s the shift come to put that into action in the sprints or elsewhere when it comes to the business problems and what results you’re actually trying to achieve? Is this more of a leadership development sprints or is there a clear business problem that’s being addressed in the sprints?

Richi Gil:

Do I go, Silke?

Silke Zanker:

Yeah. Go ahead and then I’ll add …

Richi Gil:

I go and then you add something. So, it’s both, Tim. We believe first that there is a moment where we felt the team, the leadership team, or the intact team become aware of certain opportunities and then they start to practice and when we practice, we present all these philosophy, these principles, and these skills and we use the real business conversations as a background to practice with real situations because that creates good energy in the room. It creates traction. People get involved.

Richi Gil:

Now, that’s one part. That’s becoming aware. Then there’s another intervention that we are doing the 90-day sprints which is supporting the teams through facilitation while they run the business. So there, the foreground becomes the business and then the background becomes all this philosophy that we are seeing here but it’s at the service of the business. So we show them make better business decisions to have better conversations to decide who’s gonna do what by when in a form that’s impeccable. And that creates a network of commitments that can completely change the way they do business. But we do it through facilitation support. And then we can, what Silke said before, the individual support. So it’s three lines of intervention. It’s the workshops, it’s the facilitation.

Richi Gil:

It’s three lines of interaction. It’s the workshops, it’s the facilitation, and it’s also the individual coaching. Silke?

Silke Zanker:

Yeah, and maybe just to speak about the entry points. The entry point in an organization can then be through the business and the business leaders who say, “We have a clear challenge, a problem, that we wanna work on, adapt.” It also can be through HR and obviously from the very top. There’s different entry points and depending on were you enter, that’s how you build your story of support.

Silke Zanker:

It differs from organization or organization and one thing that we hold very dear in Axelent is that we don’t have off-the-shelf solutions. We have out methodology and our tools, but then it really depends on where the client is at in their journey and what they need and what will create the biggest impact for them in the short and in the long term.

Richi Gil:

Just an example, a very short example for you to see how this affects the way that clients do business, I got one client once took me in the hallway and said, “Look, I want to share something with you, that because of the work we’re doing with you, something has changed forever in this company. Meetings now start on time.” And for them, that was a huge breakthrough. Because our experience is that in many of our clients, people are not very conscious of the way they manage time. And then meetings, they start late, then they run longer, and then you get later to the next meeting, and every, that has an incredible ripple effect in your organization. So just by meetings starting and ending on time, this was a major shift for them in the way they do business. Such a simple things like that can completely transform your culture. One thing that you decide to change for good.

Tim Kuppler:

Can you connect this to a business problem? You’ve been contacted because an organization’s having troubles with launching new products. Or there’s service issues, or there’s quality issues. Because I think everybody on the line’s getting the sense of how the leadership development works, how the facilitation can work, but where are you’re doing it and how you’re coordinating it so it impacts the business problem?

Silke Zanker:

I’ll and hand over to you Richie.

Richi Gil:

No that’s okay.

Silke Zanker:

We believe it comes back to our work together also. It is to really do a very good diagnostic at the beginning, because there can be many reasons for why you have service problems or where the quality problems come from. There’s not just one answer to that question. It is in the beginning to look at that.

Silke Zanker:

I remember a client we’ve been working with. For them it’s been very much about the type of conversations they’ve had as a leadership team, but also afterwards with their teams. One thing that we often say is you change culture one conversation at a time. So for them, the entire challenge of why they were slower than the competition was because they were not speaking on eye-to-eye levels, so people were coming from different positions and they were talking about, “This is my position, this is your position,” and people were not looking at what was underlying this positions. What’s my view of the world, what’s your view? What’s the interest behind it?

Silke Zanker:

The moment they started breaking that up, they had different insights and they would collaborate in a different way and therefore be much faster in response to whatever was in the market.

Silke Zanker:

That’s my take on it, is you link it to the business problem in the very beginning when you do your diagnostic and then throughout, because, of course, as you do the culture work, different things may pop up. It’s something you always need to have your finger on the pulse.

Silke Zanker:

Richie.

Richi Gil:

Yes, I would just add that we would never act on the symptom, Tim. Whatever the client tells you the problem is, we look at that as a symptom of something. We ask a lot of “why” questions. We want to go upstream to understand. If you look at the iceberg, the client tells you a problem, he’s always talking at the half product level. He’s talking what can you see above the surface. What we do, is we go upstream, or we go deep, to understand what processes might be affected and what points in the platform, in the process capability building, can be affected that gives rise to that symptom. We ask a lot of questions.

Tim Kuppler:

I know you have some other visuals here. What’s this all about? Soka?

Silke Zanker:

It basically shows what we touched upon earlier, the different levels around the individuals on the personal level that plays a role in your organization. The interpersonal level, the “we” dimension in a team that’s also in an organization, and then the impersonal level, which is where a lot of the processes and business aspects lie. What we say is in all our work. The model you saw before and this model, they go hand in hand, and like you often say, it’s a model, so it’s a simplification of what is really there. What we say, these three elements, these three dimensions, they go together and they go hand in hand.

Silke Zanker:

In a business we may have the tendency to only focus on the “it” level, on the impersonal level, and maybe neglect the “we” level and the “I” level. Sometimes when we do culture work we may look very much on the “we” level and forget that there is an “I” dimension and there is an “it” dimension. It’s that question of, it needs to make business sense as well, because it’s part of why the organization exists. There’s individuals that play a role, so those three, they go hand in hand and they are important to manage and to align.

Tim Kuppler:

Excellent. Tell me more about mindsets and behaviors. Richie, you want to take that?

Richi Gil:

Yeah, well this is what we’ve been, in some way or another, talking about during the last minutes. We like to say that mindsets is the stories the build around what you see out there in the world. We like to say that human beings build stories all the time. We build stories. What becomes problematic is that we see something in the world, we build a story around it, and then what we do is we believe the story, because it is our story. So it has to be true.

Richi Gil:

But then what’s most problematic, is that we forget that we have told ourselves a story. And then we believe, we walk around thinking that the story we tell is what’s true about the world. And then, of course, other people tell themselves different stories, because they come from a different background, they make different interpretations, they have different values, what’s important to me. And they come to different conclusions.

Richi Gil:

What we like to teach and to help people become aware of is that it’s not about … the stories are not a problem. What is a problem is the forgetfulness of the stories. If we remind each other of the real stories, then we can enter a conversation with a spirit of diversity, with a spirit of, “Oh, well look we disagree. So tell me more, how do you come to this conclusion?”

Richi Gil:

Whereas if I am certain about my story, and you disagree with me, then I will spend our meeting trying to convince you that of course I’m right and you’re wrong. And of course you will try to do the same, because you are right and I am wrong. And then that will get us stuck like this. If we can remind ourselves that they’re all stories, then we can become curious about your story, and you can become curious about my story, and together we can build a narrative that integrates and transcends the stories.

Richi Gil:

It’s so simple and yet so elusive to be able to remember in the moment, in the heat of the moment, that you are just telling a story, and that the story could be grounded or the story could be unhelpful for what you’re trying to accomplish. This work on mindsets and behaviors is, once you become aware of the stories and how do you want to react once you realize you have a certain narrative, then you can build different behaviors on how to listen to each other, how to engage in a difficult conversation, how to give feedback, which is something that happens all the time with our clients.

Richi Gil:

All our clients do is communicate with each other one way or another. One to one, one to many, in meetings, in. You change the way you communicate, and you can change the way you made the decisions, and you change the way you commit to each other, that will change our culture. But it’s not possible, we believe, if you don’t act on the stories that we built, which is the mindsets.

Tim Kuppler:

Got it.

Silke Zanker:

And I think, Tim, it also speaks to something that I’ve been observing. If you compare a work with culture ten years ago and today, it’s a topic that many people speak about and many organizations. It’s a very popular topic. The impact sometimes that I see is so that many companies now have very clear vision and mission statements, very clearly values everywhere on the web site and in the hallways. And there is an understanding that sometimes is missing that it doesn’t take away from us doing the work. And the work is being done when we change our mindsets and when we change our behaviors. That’s why we emphasize it so much, because the work is not putting a nice poster in the hallway.

Silke Zanker:

I think the people who are on this webinar and us here, it’s part of our job and what we need to do for the world in terms of, we know the impact of how you change culture in a lasting way. Versus, what’s a marketing way of talking about it. The depth of the work is really what is important to us.

Tim Kuppler:

What’s popular out there now is obviously alignment approaches, aligning everything with your values, others of course all the emphasis on engagement, and other things. Obviously you’ve run into that so much over the last 15 years. How do you help people understand that working on those things is really not working on culture? You’re working on things that are just on the surface. How do you create that understanding where maybe that HR leader or top leader, they even talked about those being the culture. How do you manage that conversation that there’s something deeper there?

Richi Gil:

Our style in which we engage the leaders of the teams is very facilitated. We create what we call “moments of truth” in the room. Something that’s real for the business emerges, and then we facilitate a conversation right there and then. We never know what’s going to come up. In the way we do it, we model a cautious way, a skillful way of doing it. And then leaders say, “What did you just do?”

Richi Gil:

This is such a different conversation from the ones we used to have. And then we explain to them, “Look, we are just having … it does sound like a conversation, but this conversation has a structure behind it.” When you don’t know the structure of the conversation, it sounds a little bit like magic. Because you don’t know what’s going on, but then the outcome is completely different. Then we tell them, “Look, this magic can be learned. You can learn it, and we can teach you the structure of the magic. But at the end of the day, it’s just having different conscious conversations.”

Tim Kuppler:

Got it. So what were you trying to get across with this Culture ROI page? Soka?

Silke Zanker:

I think that that’s what we mentioned in the very beginning, just to say, we do encourage all our clients to mention the return on investments, whatever work we did together. It was the example we gave in the very beginning. Do you have a couple of more questions that we could address?

Tim Kuppler:

Yeah, absolutely, we have a lot here, actually. You talked a lot about mindsets and behaviors, but what about emotions? It’s easy when you’re in the coaching session and things are settled, but when we’re under stress or there’s tough decisions that have to made or lots of pressure, where’s that play in to what actually plays out in your behavior?

Silke Zanker:

I’m laughing because I just finished an article about emotional mastery today. If you remember a few slides there, we were speaking about this iceberg, where the “being” level is at the bottom, and then you have the “doing” level and the “having” level. Emotional mastery, we call is a meta mindset. It’s underlying all the other mindsets, because depending on how you work with your emotions and whether you take things personally, whether you are attached to the stories you tell yourself, and you believe them, and then you forget that these are the stories you made up, depending on all of that, you will choose how you view the world, and which mindsets you take on. For us, it’s very important work and how we go about it is to also really look at and say, “Let’s harness the power of emotion, and let’s be curious of what the message is, that positive and negative emotions, how we sometimes label them as human beings, have to share with us because they all have a message.

Silke Zanker:

It’s very important work, and Victor Frankel said … There’s an amazing sentence where he’s and response there is a space, and in that space lies your freedom to make choices, to make conscious choices. And the work is a lot about becoming aware of that stage and increasing it. Awareness-based practices, being able to regulate your emotions, being mindful, all of that is a big part of the work we do and the work we invite our clients to do.

Tim Kuppler:

Excellent. I’ve got another question on measuring the ROI. You had said that sometimes the presented problem aren’t the real problems or the underlying issues. But at the end of the day, if you were brought in because we were having quality problems or because we’re having safety issues or customer experience issues, how do you measure ROI at the end of things if the problem shifted, or do you have to connect things back to the original problem? How’s that work? Richie, you want to take that?

Richi Gil:

Yes. We like to recommend, as Silke said before, that ultimately we end up measuring impact on the business. So ROI is not happy faces at the end of our workshop or that people think that this is the best leadership program that they attended. That’s not what ROI means. You have to engage with the client, because we influence intermediate variables. We influence behaviors. And then behaviors, in turn, will influence outcomes. If you want to establish how much of the outcome was influenced by your intervention, you have to jointly, collaboratively, move upstream and understand how this translates into the ultimate bottom line.

Richi Gil:

For that you need to work in a collaborative way with the client, which is what we did with out client with their case we presented at the beginning of our webinar today.

Tim Kuppler:

All right, excellent. I do want to make sure we finish close to on time here. Where can people learn more about Axelent, your work, some of your thought leadership? Soka, you want to start?

Silke Zanker:

Yeah. Our website, if you go to the second to last slide, I believe, axelent.com, you’ll see our website, www.axelent.com. You can also send us an email, to Richie or me, so yeah you can leave that up. Happy to respond and engage in conversations, because this is just the first conversation, so really happy to respond. On our website, you see articles, you see videos, just lots of our work, and we love to share. Because what we said in the beginning, what is really important to us is that we share this work and that we enable people to live their purpose and that we all together create more and more organizations that do business in a conscious way, because we believe business has the power to have a positive impact on the world. It’s really up to all of us to make that work. So looking forward to engaging with people, and continuing that dialogue.

Tim Kuppler:

Richie, any final words of encouragement?

Richi Gil:

Likewise, Tim, this is really, as hopefully at the least can see this is our passion. We love what we do and we love to engage in these conversations. We encourage disagreements, different points of view, because in that richness is where you continue to build a pool of meaning. This is what we are all about, to help people, teams and organizations, connect to their true nature, and then to express it skillfully, that’s our mission.

Tim Kuppler:

Awesome. Well Richie and Soka, thanks so much. Of course we value our partnership with Axelent tremendously, admire you for not only wanting to measure the business impact, but actually knowing whether the culture has shifted and that we’re actually measuring attributes of the culture itself. Love how to work across individuals, teams, and the organization. Love how you brought in the sprints as a way to drive learning more quickly on things related to business problems, so it could be translated, not to just generic things, but more sprints, more shorter term goals based on a longer term vision and problems and challenges. Love where you’re headed, and thanks for sharing a little bit of what you learned, and we’ll figure out ways to collaborate and get more of your content out there to both of our audiences.

Tim Kuppler:

Thanks so much and…. Thank you to everyone that attended, we’ll have a follow-up email to you with some links and additional information where you can learn more. Thanks everybody.

Silke Zanker:

Thank you. Bye.

Richi Gil:

Thank you. Bye bye.

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