Becoming a world class culture practitioner
For several years, Adaptive Cultures have been conducting a Development Program for culture practitioners and building a community to co-learn and evolve as practitioners. The key intentions of these are to build capacities necessary for the 21st century challenges that are upon us in order to influence the potential future of our communities, our industries and our world.
Knowledge does not equal effectiveness
There are many diagnostic tools and methods available for culture practitioners. These enable the practitioner to build knowledge and skill. Yet there are very few programs and practices available to deeply build the capacity of the practitioner.
Capacity relates to awareness and adaptability. For example, how aware am I of myself and the systems I work with (individual, social, structural) and what is my ability to transform myself and adapt my mindsets and activities to be more effective?
Too often practitioners gain confidence through using specific processes or methodologies and become overly reliant on them. Processes and methodologies are useful tools in the toolkit, however no tool or process will be useful in all contexts. Research and common sense tells us that capacity of the practitioner outweighs the methodology in creating sustainable change. With greater capacity comes the ability to appropriately select tools and methods at the right time and apply with greater skill and awareness.
To become a world class practitioner is about BOTH capacity (awareness and adaptability) and capability (skills and knowledge).
Adaptive Cultures has found that to build both capacity and capability requires an approach that is both personally provocative and highly practical. The key foundations for the world-class practitioner are:
How you show up is your best intervention.
To show up as the best possible you requires a lot of personal work. It requires an awareness of your triggers, buttons and default behaviours.
- Where do you go to in moments of anxiety and how does that serve you?
- What would you need to be free of in order to be able to observe and respond rather than react or become caught up?
- How do you courageously share the truth as you see it, while maintaining compassion for people regardless of how dysfunctional their behaviour may appear on the surface?
A keen awareness of organisational systems and the deep structures that hold culture in place.
What are the stories that sit beneath the surface, that create beliefs and a sense of fear or trepidation? Are these real or imagined?
An appreciation of the power structures inside the organisation.
- What are the delegated authorities held within different roles?
- What are the implicit and explicit rules about dealing with people in positions of authority?
- How do people gain or leverage power through their networks and relationships to important and powerful people?
A great capacity to help the organisation to convert cultural insights into practical day to day actions and activities.
Understanding the stage of cultural evolution of the organisation helps the practitioner to understand which tools, processes, conversations and language make it easy for the organisation to move forward and difficult for the organisation to go backwards.
A learning mindset, a capacity to turn the silliest of mistakes into an opportunity to grow and develop.
World class culture practitioners continually perceive opportunities to help organisations to apply and encourage a learning mindset. With a learning mindset, organisations don’t take imperfection so seriously, but rather use it as energy to continue to enable cultures to change and adapt.
- Communities of learning and aspiration emerge as we create safe environments for growth and experimentation
- Champions for the new culture gain support and momentum
All culture work is in alignment with and service of the business strategy.
In order to build congruence and urgency for change, the organisation’s culture and strategy need to be in complete alignment. A culture practitioners job includes asking provocative questions to ensure this alignment is real and continues to be adapted as circumstances change.
Bckground to the Practitioner Development Program
The Practitioner Development Program runs over a 12-month period as a way to support practitioners to build and develop these capacities – development happens as an ongoing process rather than a one-off event.
The Program commences with a 2-day retreat – working on ourselves, deepening our understanding of culture and becoming clear and intentional on how and when to bring cultural interventions into our organisations. World class Adaptive Cultures diagnostics and methodologies are introduced as tools rather than silver bullets.
The one certainty in any personal or organisational culture or change work is that you will face challenges, stumble and occasionally fall. And we must celebrate the learnings that come, accept with humility that we are not yet perfect and hold ourselves with the highest levels of accountability to get up and keep going! When practitioners have honed this mindset, they are truly on the way towards world class.
To support the building and integration of new capacities of the practitioner, the work continues in applying theory to real life. This is inevitably messier and more challenging that is often spoken about in theoretical papers or organisational case studies.
Participants are supported through coaching by facilitators, peer support and comprehensive ongoing practical application over a 12-month period.
By the end of the Development journey, participants have not only gained skills, knowledge, tools, methodologies, capacity and awareness, they have applied these to a real-life change or culture project.
The Learning Community
We are very selective about who we invite into our learning community. Too often we have been part of community groups where the stated aspiration is to collectively grow and learn, yet the behaviours of individuals have often been of one-upmanship, defensiveness and self-interest. We are seeking expressions of interest from people who genuinely want to be part of a learning community, who are prepared to do the hard work needed for personal development, and who are willing to support others on their learning journeys.
Alternatively, you may be interested in joining the Adaptive Cultures Community to connect with passionate culture leaders and practitioners from around the world to share challenges and successes, and deepen your learning about how to evolve organisations through disruption.