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For the Love of Company Culture

"Stop Trying to Change Your Culture! Human-Centered Design for Organizations," a FastCo Innovation workshop by Turi McKinley and Linda Quarles.

Last week, frog Org Activation experts Turi McKinley and Linda Quarles led a workshop on how to bring human-centered design principles to organizations. A great place to start: rituals.

“We want our people to love their work, their colleagues, and to bring their best selves each day. We all strive for company cultures that foster this environment. So why is it so difficult?”

frog is working to answer this very question. After spending decades bringing transformative products and services to life for our customers, we’ve turned our sights to the organization as a design challenge, and employees as the customer. No more top-down interventions that target the culture as the problem. At frog, we believe that true change starts with articulating the purpose of the organization, and then understanding the underlying mind-sets, needs and perspectives that create rituals and behaviors within organization.

This structured session led small teams through defining and concepting employee experiences that have the power to transform culture from within. Participants were asked questions like “What do you believe in and why does it matter to you?” because as Linda says, “the conversation matters–connection matters.” And this conversation and connection included topics that ranged from grit, fast failure, gratitude, belonging, storytelling, vulnerability, generosity to challenging the status quo. 

Participants worked in small groups to talk through goals, values and processes that can help build culture from the people out. Because, “even the smallest team rituals matter in what we design for our customers,” says Turi. 

We had a great turnout of fantastic participants. Here are just some of the rituals the teams came up with:

To create a culture of optimism: The Awesome Wall… “Today is/was awesome because…” post-it wall for employees to add to daily

To create a culture of freedom: Cap and Trade… a system for meetings to protect and value individual focus time by having a limit on the amount of time employees spend in meetings.

To create a culture of openness: Seat Swap…swapping seats around their office and physically getting different perspectives.

To create a culture of authenticity: Authentic Ideas… giving permission to talk about the ‘bad’ ideas, as well as the good. These ideas allow you to feel like you’re truly showing your authentic self, and also introducing a culture that doesn’t expect perfection at all times. Besides, sometimes the best ideas come out the ‘bad’ ones.

“I hadn’t thought of the little things we do as teams and how they link to our beliefs.” – North American Retail Director

“I came back for the second time– last year was amazing.” – Finnish SW company lead

“Thank you so much… today was fantastic and I am going to use these methods immediately with my team.” – Financial Services CMO

“[The workshop] was insightful and some of my team decided to implement a couple of the takeaways (the today was awesome wall, in particular!)” – Marketing Director

We always love opening our doors to the design community, especially when it comes to fostering valuable people-first change in organizations. 

Find out more about frog’s Org Activation practice by downloading our latest service primer, Designing the Human-Centered Organization:

 

frog

frog is a global design and strategy firm. We transform businesses at scale by creating systems of brand, product and service that deliver a distinctly better experience. We strive to touch hearts and move markets. Our passion is to transform ideas into realities. We partner with clients to anticipate the future, evolve organizations and advance the human experience.

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