Blog : intentional company culture

The Business Case for a Human-Centered Business Model

The Business Case for a Human-Centered Business Model

The old ways of leadership and business are being disrupted. We are leaving the Information Economy behind and entering the next evolution: the Idea Economy.

In the Idea Economy, value — and the future of business — lies in ideas, innovation and implementation. The traditional mental models and application methods no longer apply. In addition, as the drive towards big data continues to grow, so too must there be a drive towards genuine consideration of the human element that contributes to these larger systems.

Complex systems naturally function at an optimal level, but much can get in the way. Businesses are complex systems that have human beings at their core. They must be attended to, or the many issues that plague businesses, such as decreased productivity, high turnover, workplace bullies, and the multiple costs associated with stressed-out workers, will only increase. Fortunately, the opposite is also true: It is possible to unleash and realize an innovative company culture, in which engaged employees communicate effectively, collaborate freely, and work enthusiastically to realize their company’s vision.

Employee engagement is more than just a buzzword. Genuine engagement involves a comprehensive understanding of the human element of your business.

Disengaged employees can cost your company a lot of money, due to declining productivity, turnover, absenteeism, poor customer service, and the inability to realize the full potential of the employee and the organization as a whole.

Actively engaged employees are three times more productive (Rapid Learning Institute “What Drives Employees to Disengage and How to Win them Back”). And, companies with a formal engagement strategy in place are 67% more likely to improve their revenue per full-time equivalent on a year-over-year basis (Aberdeen, The Role of Engagement in Performance Management, September 2016).

ic3 can help you improve engagement and effect positive change in your organization in three ways:

  1. Identifying outdated and ineffective patterns (symptoms)
  2. Teaching you how to change those patterns
  3. Guiding you through the process of intentionally creating the desired outcome

Identification only comes through awareness, and awareness must be consistently practiced. Otherwise, we become “lost in familiar places”, blind to the systemic dynamics and patterns that are driving less-than-optimal behavior.

Learning how to change takes consistency and training. This includes learning skills which once were pejoratively called “soft”, such as awareness, effective communication, collaboration, empathy, respect, and creativity. In truth, these are all mental skills of a higher order and are now considered essential to a high-functioning organization. Unfortunately, they are also some of the hardest to find in business today. This is because historically, these skills were not consistently valued, so they haven’t been consistently taught. Now that leaders are coming to understand their value, they are scrambling to catch up.

Intentionally creating your desired company culture involves understanding what isn’t working, learning the skills required to make the necessary changes, and fostering the ability to imagine new possibilities.

Imagination — one of our most advanced mental operations — requires us to work at optimal capacity. It asks us to move beyond fear of safety and satisfaction and to connect and collaborate with others. In addition, it requires proficiency in empathy and creativity as well as linear logic and analysis. It’s the evolution from “me” to “we” (e.g., from reactive to receptive mental states). From here, lasting positive change is possible, and consistently innovating with the end user in mind is an everyday occurrence. From here, purpose-driven, positive impact is achievable as well as genuine, lasting employee engagement. 

In this environment, employees are genuinely engaged because their whole selves are being considered. They have a sense of identity, feel valued, are provided with growth opportunities, and feel a part of something larger than themselves. When this occurs, your company culture has become intentional.

So we ask you to start using your imagination now. Imagine for a moment what your ideal, fully-engaged, and innovative company would look like. What would be different in terms of culture, productivity and motivation? What would be different in your ability to use innovation and creativity to offer the best services and products to your clients? How could you impact your industry, and the world beyond, in a different way?

At ic3 consulting, we guide our clients to create insightful companies by building intentional cultures and fostering innovative collaboration.

No matter where your organization stands now, a more insightful, collaborative and intentional company culture can be as easy as ic3. Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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Your Business & Your Brain

Your Business & Your Brain

How Understanding Brain Function Can Help You Take Your Business to the Next Level

Basics of neuroleadership explained in ic3’s brain and business infographic.

 

Within each division of the brain, there are certain needs that must be satisfied before we can think and act from the more advanced, thoughtful and evolved parts of the brain. For example, imagine that before you even begin your workday, you wake up late, skip breakfast, and have an argument with your partner. It’s now 9:30am and you have to tackle a project that requires creativity and strategic thinking. It’s due by 2:00pm, but you’re feeling scattered and can’t seem to focus. That’s because you haven’t fulfilled your brain’s fundamental need for nourishment and connection. And until you do, you won’t be able to function at optimal levels.

So how does this relate to your business? Well, in each company there are basic day-to-day, or operational, functions that need to be taken care of before it can evolve to the next level. Only when those functions have been adequately addressed can the company begin to focus on:

  • creating a sense of purpose
  • cultivating genuine employee engagement
  • standing out from the competition, and
  • conceiving innovative solutions, products, and services

How does this happen? By leveraging specific characteristics and traits in its employees that, when combined effectively, support the ongoing growth of the company.

We call this the evolution from me to we.

Let’s take a closer look. Click on the brain and business infographic below to enlarge.

neuroleadership basics

 

Co-founders Dayna Wood and Jennifer Carey help CEOs and their teams create a fully engaged and innovative company culture through offsite corporate retreats, CEO intensives, and ongoing accountability services. Their diverse backgrounds make them uniquely qualified to address the critical human-element of business.

Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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The Gears of Creativity – The Creativity Cycle Explored

The Gears of Creativity – The Creativity Cycle Explored

In my previous article, Why the Creativity Cycle is Like an Outstanding Cup of Coffee, I discussed the necessary ingredients of the creative process, such as the importance of protected time, a culture that supports creativity, constraint within the creative process, and not taking the process too personally.

In this article, I’ll explore the cycle of creativity and its relationship to our current understanding of the brain. The importance of dissecting the creative process and organizing it into a guiding metaphor is manifold.

As anyone who has tried to bring a creative impulse from ideation to iteration can attest, there is a great risk of getting lost in the creative process. Understanding the cyclical nature of the process can offer perspective and clarity. It can also supply “gas” for the long haul, giving fledgling ideas the chance to come to fruition.

Different skill sets are needed in each stage. If you know where you are, you can seek assistance to close any gaps in your knowledge. You can also take the necessary measures to protect your time and resources in each phase of the process — even those in which it appears as if not much is happening.

There are a number of diagrams and stage theories that outline various steps within the creative cycle. For our purposes here, each step will be represented by a gear, in order to emphasize that the process is not a linear, but rather cyclical and interconnected. I’ll also describe each step in relation to the structure and division of the brain. (For more on this, see my previous article on imagination).

The brain can be divided in multiple ways. However, an important distinction to look at in terms of creativity is how the brain is divided horizontally.

There are two hemispheres: the left and the right. Though the hemispheres work in concert to create a unified sense of self and personality, each hemisphere attends to the world differently and, therefore, processes information in distinct ways. This provides us with great advantages, including the ability to understand a situation from many different perspectives, as each gear in the cycle of creativity allows for various vantage points. We’ll explore each of these gears in detail below.

Gear 1: Preparation

Preparation is a fundamental part of the creative cycle. Although it’s not the “sexiest” part of creativity, this is the stage in which you are doing your homework and setting the stage, defining the constraints and framework (link to the previous article), for your project. Here, you are elbow deep in research and working primarily from your left brain. The left hemisphere is the great “unpacker” of information; it breaks information down by sorting, categorizing and analyzing.

Gear 2: Incubation & Insight

While the left hemisphere specializes in language, logic, and facts — which are imperative during the preparation phase — the incubation and insight stage requires a letting go of linear and conscious thought processes. Insights, or “a-ha moments”, happen when we are not concentrating specifically on the project. In these moments the right hemisphere is activated, and you need to allow time and space for your ideas to percolate. This is how you allow the web of interconnected ideas — however incongruent they might seem — to surface as a cohesive insight.

You might be asking yourself, “How do I stop consciously thinking and allow this process to develop when I have a deadline to meet?” It’s a common question. For those who consider themselves creatives, this might be a no-(left)brainer (pun intended). However, for those who are used to thinking in a strictly analytical fashion, it will feel very, very different.

The right hemisphere doesn’t use everyday language (which is housed in the left hemisphere) to communicate. It usually communicates without words; for example, you’ll get a gut feeling, or an image or diagram will pop into your head seemingly out of nowhere. So we have to learn to listen in different ways. A few ways to begin to listen differently include:

  • Find ways to transcend language, such as with the use of imagery
  • Creativity (crafting, cooking, gardening, etc.)
  • Spending time in nature
  • Stepping back to see the whole picture (what I call “zooming out”)
  • Being embodied (practicing yoga, dancing, etc.)
  • Listening to music
  • Welcoming opposites. The tension of opposites is part of the creative process and can produce results that are greater than the original parts. (Brain science tidbit: The right hemisphere has the ability to hold dichotomy. It does not categorize things as opposites, but rather sees them as connected and in relation to one another.)

These are just a few ways you can practice tuning into your brain’s right hemisphere. As you learn to listen differently, keep in mind that bringing this information into our daily lives does take a certain amount of trust.

Gear 3: Evaluation

Here you have a chance to turn your idea back over to the left brain and sort out the logistics. Now is when you ask yourself if your project is worth taking all the way to iteration?

David Kelley, founder of the Stanford d.school, and his brother, Tom Kelley, are New York Times bestselling authors of the book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All (Crown Business, 2013). They have a set of guiding principles that can aid in this evaluation: FIRST, with genuine curiosity, ask “What is desirable (human)?”  THEN, ask, “What is viable (business) and feasible (technology)?”

Gear 4: Integration, Imagination & Iteration

Imagination is based on the creative power of opposition, and is a result of the synthesis between the right and left hemispheres. Imagination, insight, and creativity all require this integration of the left and right hemispheres.

This stage requires you to get your hands dirty and do it! It is where head and heart, brain and body, and conscious and unconscious come together to manifest your masterpiece — or complete failure!

Remember that failure is an inevitable part of the creative process. It doesn’t mean your idea or product is necessarily bad. It just means you have the opportunity to go through the creativity cycle again, with your newfound knowledge, so you can make it even better.

It is also important to remember — especially in this part of the cycle — that fear in its many manifestations will arise. It presents itself in every stage, but as you prepare to actually create, it can become even more pronounced. Fear lets you know you are on the edge of your comfort zone, and you are about to grow. This is a good thing. So don’t run away from your fear; run towards it. (Stay tuned for my next article, which outlines how you can embrace fear through mindfulness techniques).

Gear 5: Upleveling

Gear 5 connects back to Gear 1. The left hemisphere, dissecting information in a highly focused and narrow way, offers many contributions, including breaking down tasks and learning complex sequences. However, it is essential to return this information to the right hemisphere, where it can again be viewed within the context of the whole. This is where perspective comes from, as well as the ability to attend to new information in our environments. In this phase, we start the creativity cycle anew, but upleveled: armed with our newfound learning, product, and understanding.

It is my sincere hope that this, admittedly, very left-brain dissection of the creative process will help you manifest your next creative idea. It just might be an idea that can help change the world for the better.

 

creativity and business

Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

As an employee engagement consultant and professional psychotherapist and coach, Dayna combines out-of- the-box thinking with solid scientific research, so her clients get the best of both worlds.

Dayna is the co-founder of ic3 consulting. ic3 consulting helps business leaders re-engage, re-align and re-ignite their workforce to create highly empowered teams that communicate effectively, collaborate freely and work to realize their company’s vision. Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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Why the Creativity Cycle is Like an Outstanding Cup of Coffee

Why the Creativity Cycle is Like an Outstanding Cup of Coffee

If you’re like most people, your standard cup of “morning joe” is okay. It serves a function by helping you go from barely functional to getting you through your routine each morning.

However, the standard cup of coffee is very different from a fantastic cup of coffee that’s so good, it makes you stop and savor each sip. So, what separates an okay cup of coffee from a superb one?

It begins with intention — the desire to make a great cup of coffee. Allowing yourself enough protected time to go through the process is important, too, as is your knowledge and understanding of the steps involved. This knowledge can include far-ranging topics such as the quality of the beans and how to store them properly, roasting types and preferences, timing of grinding, filtering techniques, water quality, and temperature and equipment standards. This is a far cry from scooping some coffee grinds into a machine, pouring in water, and turning the button from black to red. And, so is the result.

Similarly, there is a large divide between producing an adequate product or service and creating something that awes, inspires, disrupts — or all of the above. Like making a remarkable cup of coffee, you need to know each specific ingredient and step required to make a great product or service.

There are distinct stages in the creative process, which we will dive into in our next article in this series. First, let’s examine the concept of creativity itself.

Creativity is a word that has an almost magical connotation because it’s often assumed that it’s an attribute of only a select and chosen few. Many people believe that you have to be an amazing visual artist to be creative. Some also believe that creativity cannot truly be defined, because of its utter uniqueness. But the good news is, all humans are creative. Our earliest ancestors had to be creative in order to survive, and it’s still hardwired into our brains.

So, the question isn’t “How creative are you?”, but rather “How are you creative?”

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the key ingredients of creativity is constraint. Creativity functions best when it is understood and practiced within a framework, and it blossoms within defined boundaries.

For instance, when making a cup of coffee, the equipment, steps, ingredients, and processes are pretty well-defined. Within that structure, it is possible to create something anew, as well as to question what had been previously assumed as “obligatory”. A great example of this approach is the recent popularity of nitro cold brew coffee. All that said, you still need coffee, liquid and and equipment, and you’re still working within the structure of “coffee making”.

Furthermore, there is a risk of getting lost in the creative process once you are in it. Think of how many brilliant ideas never made it beyond the brainstorming phase. Not because it wasn’t a great idea, or because funding wasn’t available, or because of functionality questions; but rather, because the person who generated the idea became too bogged down in the details — or in their personal “stuff”, which will inevitably surface. So structure not only provides perspective and clarity, it protects fledgling ideas and supplies energy for the long haul.

Different skill sets are needed at each stage of the creative process, and it’s wise to plan for this. If you know where you are at any given stage, you can seek assistance to close any gaps in knowledge that might arise, and then continue with the process, rather than giving up or going back to the drawing board. This is how you turn your idea into an original new product, service, or methodology that can set you apart from your competitors.

Another critical ingredient in the creative process is fostering a culture in which it’s supported — in all of its stages. Feelings of fear, loathing, and failure are inevitable parts of the process and can arise anew in each stage. If you want to create a work environment that encourages creativity, it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether or not your current culture welcomes these challenging feelings as signs of growth and the arrival of something new. If they are considered taboo, you will need to plan on how to address them when they come up.

One of the most challenging aspects of creativity is the temptation to take feedback personally. Creativity feels extremely intimate, like shining a bright light on our most soft and vulnerable parts, so we can be very sensitive when it comes to hearing comments and criticism from our peers. It can take a tremendous amount of self-awareness to manage the emotions that can come up. In general, it’s a good idea not to take yourself too seriously, and to do your best to keep a sense of humor throughout the process. Training your team or staff on how to provide feedback in a compassionate and constructive way is also very helpful.

To recap, some of the necessary ingredients of the creative process might seem antithetical at first, such as:

  • Protection (for instance, of time and culture)

  • Universality (We are all born creative!)

  • Constraint (Including understanding the various stages of the creative process. Stay tuned for our next article)

  • Fear (and a whole gamut of “negative” feelings)

  • Not taking it personally (What can be born from the creative process has the potential to be life-altering, but if you start taking yourself too seriously, the creativity is already doomed)

You might not always choose to journey through the creative process — just like you might not always choose to make that outstanding cup of coffee. However, once you taste and experience the difference, you will truly understand how it is hard to go back to just “okay”.

Stay tuned for part two of this series, in which we’ll we describe the cycle of creativity and its relationship to our current understanding of the brain.

 

IMG_7126 Small

Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

As an employee engagement consultant and professional psychotherapist and coach, Dayna combines out-of- the-box thinking with solid scientific research, so her clients get the best of both worlds.

Dayna is the co-founder of ic3 consulting. ic3 consulting helps business leaders re-engage, re-align and re-ignite their workforce to create highly empowered teams that communicate effectively, collaborate freely and work to realize their company’s vision. Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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Transparency at Work

Transparency at Work

Want to Be The Best Place to Work? It Starts with Transparency

Do you want your employees to be more engaged, energized about their work and stay in your company longer? A key component to making that happen is transparency. Transparency, as used in business and defined by Wikipedia, implies openness, communication, and accountability. Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed.

In order to discuss Transparency, we have to begin with discussing Trust. It has been proven time and again how important it is to relationships to have trust. So, why would it be different in employee relationships?

For example, suppose that you hear through the grapevine that your company has lost some of your best clients. Without all of the information regarding goals, current financial data, and standing, you start to fear that the company is going to close. Suddenly, you’re anxious as you arrive and leave from work, not knowing if the doors will be closed in front of or behind you one day. You’re so concerned that you start to look for other positions, taking your focus further away from your current position and leaving you with very little, if any, creativity or innovation.

All of the above could be solved with one conversation. That conversation could be the business leader letting everyone know the current financial standing of the company. That conversation could include a visual presentation of the financial data. That conversation could simply be the boss saying, “don’t worry, you’re not going anywhere, YOU ARE SAFE”. It could even be, “I can’t tell you what things will look like in two years but I can tell you right now, everything is fine.”

That kind of disclosure suddenly produces an employee who is lighter, more grounded, less anxious and at peace. They feel safe. They feel the lines of communication regarding this important topic are now open and they can trust that IF anything were to happen, they’d know because you’re willing to shed light on the subject, taking them out of the perpetual dark world of “what ifs”.

This sense of trust and safety that transparency fosters can be reached even further beyond the disclosing of financial status and beyond the goals and missions of the company by openly admitting mistakes. If that just made you cringe ask yourself, what is so bad about CEOs, leaders, management teams, sharing mistakes that have been made? In fact, didn’t we all learn how to walk by falling? Why is it so different? Don’t let the ego get in the way of these amazing teachable moments.

As a business leader, be honest about individual and collective mistakes. Not only will this help others to learn and grow in your company at an increasingly rapid rate because mistakes won’t be repeated, this will also give everyone permission to be more open about their own individual learning process. CEOs are human too and your employees will respect and trust you, even more, knowing that to be true. If you’re still cringing, a little hint to help you admit your defaults is to use humor. That will lighten it up for everyone involved.

When employees can trust that the leadership will be open and honest with them, they can trust the leaders themselves, making it a healthier relationship. Furthermore, it promotes belief and optimism around the company’s success as a whole.

As a quick recap, here are steps you can take to make transparency a key component in your company’s employee engagement:

 

  • Open, clear and honest communication around:

    • Mistakes

    • Company goals and mission

    • Financial data

    • Strategy

    • Any changes

  • Make yourself available for conversations and clarification

  • Include your employees in the decision-making processes

 

About ic3 consulting

ic3 consulting is a staff engagement consulting practice that delivers improved employee satisfaction for their clients. ic3’s mission is to make the world a better place, one company at a time through facilitating the creation of human-centered workplaces and business practices.

Co-founders Dayna Wood and Jennifer Carey help CEOs and their teams create a fully engaged and innovative company culture through offsite corporate retreats, CEO intensives, and ongoing accountability services. Their diverse backgrounds make them uniquely qualified to address the critical human element of business.

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 Jennifer Carey, EdS, LMHC

Jennifer applies her background as a Psychotherapist to help optimize company cultures through her writing, consulting and speaking on employee engagement. Some of these crucial skills include mindfulness, human dynamics, and interpersonal communication.

Jennifer is the co-founder of ic3 consulting. ic3 consulting helps business leaders re-engage, re-align and re-ignite their workforce to create highly empowered teams that communicate effectively, collaborate freely and work to realize their company’s vision. Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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