A Contest to Reveal Culture

In the last post I spoke about some of the foundational components to building a strong culture. It is necessary for people to feel safe and to believe they belong to something bigger than themselves. Also, for a culture to thrive it needs a clear mission, vision and an established purpose.

As a business coach in the Woodlands and as a business coach in Houston, a clear sense of purpose makes the possibilities for growth and advancement of an organization much clearer. Why? With clarity comes pointed and focused action. The individuals and teams who make up the culture have a clear purpose.

Several years ago, a designer and engineer, Peter Skillman, held a competition to find out the following: Why do certain groups add up to be greater than the sum of their parts, while others add up to be less?

To this end he assembled a series of four-person groups at three major universities and a few other places. He challenged each group to build the tallest possible structure using the follow items.

  • Twenty pieces of uncooked spaghetti
  • One yard of transparent tape
  • One yard of string
  • One standard sized marshmallow

The contest had one rule. The marshmallow had to be on the top. The most interesting part, to me, was not so much the task but the teams he assembled. Some of the teams were business students and some were kindergartners.

The business students strategized. The kindergartners had a different approach. They did not strategize, analyze or share experiences. They were too young, not only to strategize, analyze and share experiences. They did not know how to ask questions, propose options or hone ideas. All of which the business students knew how to do. Their entire technique was about how to bunch stuff together.

In dozens of trials around the country and in other parts of the world, the kindergartners won. Their structures averaged twenty-six inches tall, while the business students’ structures ended up averaging less than ten inches in height.

The results may be hard to absorb. Suffice it to say, as a personal development business coach, it was the kindergartners who had the greater personal development and self-improvement. In the next post I will discuss how these results came about. In a word, it is surprising.

Culture: When One Plus One Equals Five

I have observed in my in my practice of personal business coaching in the Woodlands and also in business coaching in Houston that certain concepts become the major focus of the time. Time management was big and coming into its own in the 1980’s and 1990’s. You just weren’t with it if you hadn’t taken a time management course. And, time management is still just as important today as it was back then.

Today, much of what I encounter has to do with company culture and how it is either helping or hindering a company. Culture comes from the Latin word cultus, which means care. Culture at its highest level has a clear purpose as expressed in the vision and more importantly, the vision statements.

These statements are more than just words. They define a purpose and a way to get there that is bigger than any one person. It gives the individual something to belong to and helps form a sense of team and cohesiveness. Culture sends a number of signals of how we belong to something. And when we belong to something as a teamwe can do greater things than if we siloed ourselves off and did it alone.

This is where one plus one equals five. This is where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. When it comes to culture, I become more of a personal development business coach in the Woodlands with an emphasis on self-improvement business coaching.

In order to have a geometric progression in growth, efficiency and effectiveness a team must feel safe. This allows them to be creative. The members of the team must feel like they belong. And, the individuals in the team must focus on their personal development or self-improvement. Why? Seldom will whatever we want to achieve individually or as a team exceed our personal development.

Definitions: Part 5-What a Personal Business Coach May Look at for Your Self-Improvement

In the last post we looked at the terms shifts, leaps, strengths and their definitions. In this post, we will look at symptom, motivation, and vision. Looking at how these four terms are defined will give us greater insight into what a personal business coach or a personal development coach may need to know to better coach his or her client. These four terms, symptom, motivation, vision and tolerations are key to understanding what is going on your business and life as well as those you may coach.

Symptom:When you think of a symptom very often it is in relationship to health. For example, if someone has a fever it may be a symptom of the flu. Very often symptoms give us a clue to something bigger that we can’t see, yet encourages us to ask more questions and to explore.

What is a symptom? The visible expression of a condition or situation; something that indicates the presences of something else. For example, if my client is speaking very quickly, he or she may be upset or not sure of what to say.

Yes, symptoms are clues. And in self-improvement business coaching, being able to recognize symptoms and to dig deeper to discover what they may be covering is essential to supporting my clients.
Like a good detective, the personal development business coach must see the symptoms, the clues, and then piece things together to solve the puzzle.

Motivation: An incentive or inducement to action. An example may be a client who is working hard at improving his or her communication skills because he or she wants to be promoted.

Notice that motivation is an incentive or inducement. Once the incentive or inducement is no longer available then what? A big part of continuous self-improvement is to always have an incentive or inducement to be your best.
Yet, to have success, motivation alone is not enough. If your intuition and discernment are off and you are not employing your strengths, you could set the wrong goals and priorities. When this happens, you start hurdling down the wrong path.

When you realize that your motivation has taken you down the wrong path what must you do to turn yourself around? You need more education. You must become educated about what brought you to going down this path that is taking you away from your goal of self-improvement. Secondly, you must get more education, or at the least re-educate yourself, so you can create a new pathway to turn yourself around.

Vision: A vision is simply something you see. A personal vision is something seen for the future. It involves anticipation, foresight, perception conception, and desire. It is a scene you create that is your vision of the future.

A personal or business vision is based on wants, needs, values, and goals. A vision may be singular in nature or involve many facets. The greatest value of creating a common vision that you and your client can share is that you both have a clear focus on where you want to be in the future.

With a common vision of the future it becomes much easier to co-create the mind maps that will be needed to take the client to the future he desires. Finally, the power of a vision, the future, is an awesome force. The vision of the future encourages us to become more. Also, it brings purpose to the present. With a clear vision of the future what you need to do in the present becomes absolutely clear.

Take a close look at these three terms, symptom, motivation and vision. Understand what they can do for you and your client. Symptoms can help uncover the true challenges. Motivation will create positive momentum for you and your client to achieve his or her vision. And lastly, but not least important is vision. With a clear vision of the future you will uncover the symptoms to problems that may be holding you back while creating the motivation to accomplish the vision.