Otis Woodard on An Everyone Culture
March 25, 2016
This is one of the most important business / personal development books you might read.
If you are interested in organizational change and have been around the block once or twice, you may have found yourself a bit disenfranchised or frustrated by flavor of the month attempts at "change." Or, you may be mystified why most leadership development doesn't seem to stick. Or you may have read about concepts like "learning organizations," "integral theory," "employee engagement" and the like but have no idea how to implement such things. If any of this sounds familiar to you, then this is the book you've long awaited.
Here, you will hear a breathtakingly refreshing refrain--if you want your organization to be a learning organization, or get employees engaged, or "grow" employees, you don't need a program, a workshop, a training, a change initiative or any of the other things you've likely heard of, or tried, and don't stick. According to the authors, you need three things:
- Home -- You must create an environment where people feel safe enough to grow and change.
- Edge -- Each person in your organization needs to identify what, exactly, their growing edge actually is (everyone, no exceptions).
- Groove -- You must embed practices in "way we do things around here" that actively support and challenge people to grow--on a daily basis.
A lot of books about change are based on beliefs and pet theories. Here's another refreshing change... this book is based on 25 years of adult development research by two Harvard professors. Further, it isn't solely academic research they are basing it on. They've studied three extremely successful companies who are already "there" as "deliberately developmental organizations." Further, they've helped other companies prepare for and begin that journey.
And for you, personally, the chapter on how to identify your own growing edge (Chapter 6 -- Uncovering Your Biggest Blind Spot) takes you through a powerful, four step process that will help you see in stark relief why you probably haven't been able to change the one thing that most holds you back. Do that exercise (as I did), and then imagine everyone in your organization knowing the same thing, and supporting one another in making their one big change. In that one step alone, you are going to realize what most organizations can't change, try as they might, no matter the good intentions they have.
And then there is Chapter 2 on adult development, the science behind it. It is fantastic. Clear. Accessible. There, the authors cover three stages of adult development--based on science and research--and the differences between the stages. And, guess what. Less than 2% of the population has reached the highest stage. You should know what that stage is, and you might want to consider--as I have--what achieving that stage of development might mean to you, your leadership, your life, your company. And, yes, the authors do tell you how to move yourself and others along those stages.
The personal development aspects of this book, alone, are worth the price of admission. Maybe you aren't that interested in organizational change, or don't feel you are in a position to effect organizational change, but are greatly interested in personal development and believe that by changing yourself, you can affect the people, company and world around you. If that sounds like you, Chapter 2 (adult development) and Chapter 6 (uncovering your blind spot) are immediately accessible, practical and potentially life-altering. Any person interested in their own personal development, and/or who supports others in their development needs to read, understand and apply those two chapters.
No, the book and the approach isn't prescriptive and doesn't contain a checklist. Your organization has its own culture, own needs and is at its own developmental stage. The authors understand that. One size does not fit all. So they give you a solid framework. They tell you how others have done it. And then you make it your own, working from where you are. That is the only way it truly can work, anyway, based on my experience.
In short, read this book.
Perhaps, like me, after reading scores of business books, leadership books, coaching books, organizational change books, personal development books over the years... you may conclude this is one of the five most important books you've ever read. And, perhaps, even THE most important one.