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What is supremacist organizational culture?

My experience with culture change management is that of the fish in water--leading change isn’t a set of tips, it’s a state of being.

This is one of the best listicles I’ve ever come across. Serious kudos to Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun for getting deep in a relatively light-touch format. There are so many zingers that I can hardly pick just one, but this line stands out --

  • making a mistake is confused with being a mistake, doing wrong with being wrong

Perfectionism, my friends, is a public health issue. Don’t take my word for it: depression, anxiety, and burnout have skyrocketed. You would like to build a company that’s ready for the future? Yes, your products and programs must be strong. But your people must be stronger.

To prevent burnout in organizational culture, KPIs and OKRs must shift. Numbers on their own, for example, are not a strong indication of value-added. Nuance and quality are harder to define, but better indicators of a value proposition. Nuance and quality are also way more advanced because you cannot appease everyone’s sensibilities all the time. Numbers are absolutely important, but they’re also management 101 -- they’re easy because a Chief Executive can say, “look at our big numbers.” Quality is advanced leadership because it takes more than a few words to show deep, systemic, world-bending value creation.

A question I use to help leaders with strategy is, “what and who is being served?” Reverse engineering is often the smoothest way to design for value and to quickly understand nuance. Speaking of not trying to be perfect, instead of hitting on The Most Perfect KPI Formula Ever, consider the “points of influence” you’d like your products and programs to have. What’s a point of influence? Hint: it’s not your money or your title. A point of influence is why and how people behave in response to you.

Your single greatest point of influence is how you respond to yourself. When you generate an idea, a motivation, a spark, how do you relate to it? Qualify yourself!

There are many ways to control, but the worst prison is what you do to yourself. Do you let yourself make mistakes without feeling like a mistake?

Organizations get to make mistakes too. The North Star for organizational change is getting crystal clear about what value you’re adding, whom you’re serving, and why you’re doing it. If it’s bucks for the sake of bucks or numbers for the sake of numbers, you might be sniffing up the wrong tree. If it’s to design superb products that include, accommodate, and serve, you’ve got an anti-supremacist, pro-inclusion project in the making. Sweat the numbers less and the quality more… and be delighted by the influence you create.

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