Group Culture Is a Powerful Force

As a personal business coach in Houston I have the opportunity to work with teams in corporations. In my personal business coaching in The Woodlands, I get to work with small businesses and the teams within the businesses.

Whether the organization is large or small there is a desire to have good culture. It has been shown in studies that a strong culture can increase income by several hundred percent! We know that a good culture works. We are generally not sure why it works.

But the bigger question is: How do we go about creating it? Like the kindergartners referenced in the last two posts, culture is created by a specific set of interactions. These interactions are based on social skills. In his book, The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle references three keys to building a good culture.

1. Build safety—which through our social signals build bonds of belonging and identity.
2. Share vulnerability—explains how habits of mutual risk drive trusting cooperation.
3. Establish purpose—tells how narratives create shared goals and values.

The three skills work together to create a strong culture. I highly encourage you to read his book. And when you read it, you will learn something new that will add to your personal development and self-improvement. It will also give you a new awareness of how you can contribute as an individual to building a culture within the team or group of which you are a part.

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.