Liberating Change

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Can workplace culture be designed? That’s the question I always get when I tell people what I do for a living. People still think that culture is something that just happens organically.

A recent study by Glassdoor shows that companies with a strong culture outperform the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, delivering almost twice the gain. Glassdoor also declared 2020 as the beginning of a culture-first decade for organizations.

Every company has a culture, either by default or by design. However, successful cultures don’t happen by accident; they are purposefully designed and built. Here’s how:

1. Take a user-centered approach to culture design

Design Thinking revolutionized the way organizations solve problems and develop new products and solutions. …


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Illustration by By Hurca! — Licensed via Adobe Stock

How do you get teams working as well as they used to? How do you deal with issues that are being amplified by virtual distance?

Your culture depends heavily on connection and collaboration. However, the COVID-19 health crisis has forced most people to work remotely without the right preparation. Business as usual is a death sentence; keeping the culture alive while working remotely requires a new approach.

1. Start by Assessing Morale And Emotions

Make it okay for your team members to express how they feel. That people continue doing their jobs doesn’t mean that they are not struggling deep inside.

It’s okay for people to feel anxious, sad, lost, afraid of uncertainty, worried about losing their jobs, or a loved one. The list goes on and on. In the past few weeks, I facilitated tens of online sessions with teams and I observed a common theme: people are grieving. …


Prioritizing is not easy — especially when you must choose between two good alternatives

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Leadership is the art of making choices. Saying ‘yes’ is easy and comfortable, but what we say ‘no’ to defines our success. Great leaders know when to make sacrifices to stay focused.

Imagine taking over a tech company that’s losing money because sales are down. Will you choose to launch more products or cut the innovation pipeline by 70%?

That’s the dilemma Steve Jobs faced when he returned to Apple in 1997. The company’s sales plummeted by 30 percent during the final quarter of 1996. Apple was on the brink of failure.

Steve Jobs would turn around the company he founded, but first, he had to make some tough choices. Jobs reduced the number of Apple products by 70 percent. Among the casualties was the Newton — a favorite of former CEO John Sculley. …


How to create a culture where anyone can belong anywhere

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Source: Gustavo Razzetti (Liberationist)

Everyone acknowledges that Airbnb has disrupted the hospitality industry. However, what makes this company so unique is its obsession with culture. Speak to any Airbnb employee about what makes the company special, and they’ll answer “the culture.”

It all started back in 2012 by the advice Peter Thiel gave the founders after investing $150M in Airbnb.

“Don’t fuck up the culture.”

Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky was caught by surprise by those words.

Thiel explained that one of the key reasons he invested in Airbnb was the culture. …


Your values guide your life — if you know what they are.

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Pic by @clarktibbs/ Unsplash

Most people don’t know what they don’t know. Psychologists Rozenblit and Keil coined the term the illusion of explanatory depth to describe this phenomenon.

We all believe we know more (about ourselves) than we actually do.

My point is not to make you feel bad, but to invite you to reflect on what guides your life: your values. Most people are clueless about theirs. Even if you are clear on what you stand for, read on. Take a few minutes to revisit your values.

Please, know your values

We all have something that we stand for. However, most values were ‘imposed’ to us. We inherited our religion, political affiliation, our idea of building relationships -even our favorite sports team- from our parents. …


Your culture should be more than words

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Pic by @jordanmadrid / Unsplash

One of the most common misconceptions about purpose is that it’s something squishy and weak, that it’s only for lighthearted organizations. This couldn’t be further from the trust.

Being a purpose-driven organization is not about having a feel-good culture, but about solving complex problems. People want to be challenged. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Having a clear purpose comes at a price, however. …


5 methods to help teammates grow and learn

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Illustration by CurvaBezier/Licensed via Adobe Stock

Giving feedback is a gift that helps people learn and grow. When practiced as a team, it fosters collaboration — not just learning.

Collective feedback encourages people to focus on the outcomes as a team. They celebrate success and address failure as one, rather than focusing on who to reward or blame.

Here are five methods to help your team approach giving and receiving feedback as one.

1. Hold an Agile Retrospective

Regular agile retrospectives are a fast and effective way for teams to improve their performance.

An agile retrospective is a short meeting to reflect on a project. It could happen once the project is completed or after a specific stage. …


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Pic by @remiyuan/ Unsplash

The path unfolds itself.

The way of the changemaker is the most rewarding yet challenging path you can choose. The future looks bright ahead but the journey is messy and lonely.

“A change agent is a person who cannot help but to improve things. It’s like an addiction or a habit.” — Henrik Kniberg

I’ve always enjoyed the thrill of uphill battles — both as a former CEO and now as a change coach. That’s why I find it intriguing when I hear change agents complaining about how hard their job is. Especially, because that’s becoming a growing trend.

That you are in charge of driving change doesn’t give you any special privilege. It doesn’t guarantee your success either. Being a change agent is something you earn, not a title that is given by someone else. …


How to create a culture of constant feedback

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Photo by Lina Trochez /Unsplash

Feedback is a gift that keeps giving — it helps both the receiver and the giver grow.

Unfortunately, when practiced sporadically and without purpose, feedback makes people feel attacked rather than appreciated. It triggers adverse reactions that make our hearts pound and increases anxiety.

Ineffective feedback is a disappointing surprise, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

What gets rewarded gets repeated. When practiced frequently and well, feedback is a gift that uncovers infinite opportunities. Here are key steps to get your team started.

1. Ditch performance reviews

Assigning performance scores not only is deceiving but hinders performance rather than rewarding it.

Stack ranking was once the most destructive process inside of Microsoft. It created a culture where innovative ideas were killed quickly, and no one wanted to challenge the status quo. …


A tool to map, design, and evolve your organizational culture

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The Culture Design Canvas created by Gustavo Razzetti, Liberationist.

The Culture Design Canvas helps organizations map their culture to both provide clarity and understand the gaps between current and future states. It’s the foundation of most of the work we do at Liberationist.

Your workplace culture is the soul of your organization. Though it’s intangible and soft, it has a huge impact on how your people and business perform.

Mapping your workplace culture makes it easier for people to understand what your organization stands for. It also helps identify the gap between current and future states.

The organizational culture is dynamic, not static. The Culture Design Canvas is a flexible tool that allows capturing the different evolution of the organization’s ‘soul.’ …

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Liberating Change

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