Over the years as I work with executives, their senior teams and their organizations, I have been referred to as an organizational physician. Typically, a senior leader recognizes an issue/problem/challenge/symptom that is preventing the “patient” from being healthy and effective.
My approach is to listen well and ask questions that get at the core of what is causing the “symptoms” that the leader wants/needs to change. As we all know, symptoms are only the signs of problematic systemic issues. Sometimes it is easy to make a symptom go away without ever fixing the real problem(s).
Like a Physician, I ask the same questions in different ways in an attempt to uncover the real culprit(s) that are causing the pains/problems/dysfunctions. Once I get a sense of the system that is broken or a dysfunctional mindset, I conduct a few other tests to help verify/triangulate the origin.
X-rays and MRIs provide a clear perspective of what is going on inside of the patient. I seek other perspectives as well. These team/organizational MRIs can be conducted using a variety of further examinations such as: through interviews, facilitated discussions, trait/style/culture and communication surveys, and/or systemic assessments.
Leadership Inquiries and Transparency
I am being inundated with requests from leaders to help examine cultures and leadership styles through for signs of racism and structural/systemic racism. In over 30 years of organizational development/effectiveness work, I have never seen so many leaders voluntarily seeking help to know if they are a part of a sick culture. Many are wanting to know if they have created or perpetuated behaviors that have affected, infected, or perhaps contaminated their cultures, violated their values, and unknowingly supported systemic and structural racism.
To help serve these inquiries, I conducted and extensive search to find the best organizational assessment tools to that would, like an MRI help me and the organizations that I serve, to get a clear picture of what is going on and even more importantly what systems and processes have created, support or feed the dysfunction that lead to the resulting symptoms/problem(s).
The question that I posed to myself was, “What is the most valued and reliable organizational assessment in existence?” And “Do they have an assessment or survey that could help answer these urgent, compelling and important questions around the health of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion SYSTEMS/PROCESSES?” It didn’t take long for me to think about The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for Performance Excellence (MBNQA)
In one of my former VP jobs, my company began the process of applying for MBNQA. I had never heard of it before but was quickly brought up to speed on the importance of its impact. I attended training to get even more immersed.
Basically, the MBNQA has a set of criteria that it uses to examine the effectiveness of an organization’s systems and processes relative to the factors that make organizations perform at the highest levels. It is based on a framework that, when followed, pushes an organization towards Performance Excellence. Instead of describing it further you can learn more about it using This Link:
After much research, I found an inclusion assessment that uses the Baldrige approach to assess the processes and systems relative to diversity and inclusiveness. The designer of the assessment is a veteran of both DE&I and Process Improvement. What a combo!
Like the results of a physical exam, the outcomes from the assessment provide a clear roadmap on where to start working to improve systems and processes that are sick/dysfunctional and that go against organizational Core Values that typically include respect, inclusion and fair treatment (equity) of staff and other stakeholders. Much like a financial audit, it identifies areas of improvement that we help our clients facilitate and implement plans for improvement. Has your organization had a physical examination recently or ever? Perhaps it is time.
In addition, I am using other, less rigorous, climate/culture/DE&I surveys for some clients who want to start a conversation around DE&I as it relates to the culture and how business is conducted.
Both of these approaches are infused with strategic executive coaching, facilitation and consulting to help maximize the financial and time
investments that are required to engage the organization as it makes changes to the way things are done. This foundational work is critical for buy-in, change and sustainability.
Is it time for your organization to get a physical? If the whole thought of this scares the beJeebers out of you, but you know you need to do SOMETHING, perhaps you need an experienced partner to help you get started or to continue to accelerate your efforts and improve your organizational health.
Perhaps one of your next steps is:
- Collaborate: Start a conversation with a professional who can/will ask you a few penetrating questions about what has been said or done that have created your current culture/environment.
- Be Open To Change: We all say we are open to change until we are asked to do something that is hard for us to change. Change for others is great! When it gets close to home and even personal, we can sometimes resist or deny that we need to change.
- Mission, Vision and Values (MVV): Read your organizations’ MVV and consider if you consistently embody, support and demonstrate (verbally and in your behavior) those things that your organization is supposed to stand for?
- Join Forces: Find a consultant who can help you think/talk through where you are and where you want to be in the future. Do you know if you are on track or if there are thoughts, behaviors and processes/systems that prevent fulfilling your MVV with thoughtful, intentional attention of Diversity, Equity an Inclusion? Get help.
We are here to help intentional and passionate leaders examine, processes, improve and respond to material issues that define your organization, your culture, your leadership and ultimately those who work on your team or prospective team members who you have never considered being on the team before.