Case story: Positive Culture, part 1

Marcella Bremer Culture, Leadership, Positive Power Leave a Comment

A couple of years ago, a large biotech company set up its first overseas plant in Asia where around 600 people work to date. Let’s give this real company the name BTC.

Their challenge was there weren’t many skilled workers in the region. BTC hired local talent for their ability to learn and sent more than 300 employees to the “home plant” for training. In addition, they sent their best managers from home to the overseas plant to help groom the local talent.

The overseas training of local staff helped in building bonds amongst a diverse workforce which was a key contributor to overall success. That was 5 years ago. Today, BTC continues to focus on learning on the job across levels and functions to ensure its ability to attract good local talents.

Positive Agent

Kanna Krishnan is a “positive agent” and holds a senior position in Human Resources. He is tasked with developing a progressive culture for BTC. That’s why he used the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) and followed the Positive Culture Academy.

Krishnan is very enthusiastic about applying the tools in his company. He calls Marcella’s book (the basis of the Academy curriculum) the “blue bible”. “I take it with me to meetings, it’s on my desk: like a visual reminder. Let’s develop a successful, positive culture. Employees joke about me and the blue bible.” Here’s what he did:

Culture Survey

“We used the OCAI assessment, developed by Cameron and Quinn, and based on the well-researched Competing Values Framework, in the first quarter of 2018. We had a wonderful 95% survey participation rate out of 570 employees.

The result shows our inclination to move from an extreme focus on competition, targets, and efficiency to a culture that values collaboration, learning, and innovation. We have matured over the last 5 years and our talented staff are ready to do new things and keep on learning, while working cohesively as a team. They would like to move away from an overemphasis on process-driven efficiency and structured routines. We need those, but we also want more creativity. We’re ready for the next step.

Interesting is that the four elements of positive cultures (as taught in the Positive Culture Academy) align well with the Create culture type in the OCAI. However, we must be careful not to overdo it by being too entrepreneurial, engaging in too much change and ending up with chaos, wasted resources or irritation in the organization.”

Dream and Define

“We’d like to focus on developing the four elements of a positive culture.

Positive Awareness: BTC employees would ideally develop a “positive organic mindset” (part of the curriculum) by being open minded to facts, people, and ideas. They would see positive possibilities to aim for positive deviance, or extraordinary performance. That would be a wonderful fit with Create Culture.

Connection and Collaboration: Also important is that people care for their team members and engage in activities and decision making together. Ideally, they would ask questions without assuming and judging, be authentic and honest, and believe in others’ potential. If we support others and give help, we create a safe space without social risk.

Shared Purpose and Meaning: Crucial for BTC employees is to know their shared purpose and why they are doing their work together. Shared values matter, as well as knowing their individual contribution to the organization.

Learning and Autonomy: Managers need to trust employees as professionals and recognize people’s potential. Employees would have to take ownership of their results and their learning to leverage their professional autonomy.”

Dreaming and defining the preferred positive culture is not a useless exercise. It is the first step to developing a more positive culture when people agree and engage around this ideal. What would you wish for, looking at these 4 elements?

In the next episode of this blog, let’s see what Kanna and his company did to change toward a more positive culture.

Thank you for sharing your story, Kanna!

Do you want to learn more about developing a positive culture? Join this Positive Culture Academy. Go to the enroll page and start the change! The curriculum can be done self-paced and with others, as you wish. Help your team or organization develop its positive potential.

© Marcella Bremer and Kanna Krishnan, 2018. All rights reserved.


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