If you were to create a cartoon version of your culture—exaggerated the way people show up in meetings, the way they communicate, how they articulate or don’t articulate priorities and values—would it make you better or worse? Would the result be an Avenger’s comic book or a Dilbert comic strip?

If you’re not excited about the exaggerated version of yourself, maybe it’s time to invest in some changes.

I often compare the drivers of company culture to those underwater jets in a lazy river ride at a waterpark. Most of the time, we’re unaware of their presence. We don’t think about our culture regularly. We simply show up and let the established current take us along.

Every once in awhile it’s useful to take a step back and ask ourselves, “Is this river ride taking us where we want to go?” Are we traveling somewhere that gives us a meaningful result or are we just floating around in circles—always coming back to the same issues, the same conversations, the same frustrations?

Exaggerating the current norms is like cranking up the pressure on those water jets. We can see a little more clearly where they are pushing us and—if we’re not satisfied with the apparent destination—re-orient them.

Try this: Write an exaggerated description of how your team currently conducts itself around the following elements, the good, the bad, and the ugly:

  •  Setting goals and strategies

  •  Making decisions

  •  Holding each other accountable

  •  Managing change

  •  Addressing uncomfortable conversations

  •  Building trust

  •  Collaborating

Do you like the cartoon version of your team? 

What does it tell you about the real-life version? 

At ESINC, we like to refer to ourselves as a “culture investment firm.” Every day, we help teams get a little clearer on the current value of their “culture portfolio" and the returns they are likely to see in the future. We help them see where the water jets are pointing them and how to adjust them when necessary. Because just like your financial portfolio, an intentionally designed culture portfolio gets you a better return.



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Andy Zimney is a Senior Advisor and Team Performance Coach at Employee Strategies, Inc., a boutique firm that partners with leaders to develop highly effective cultures that drive outstanding results. Contact ESInc to learn more about how they can assess your current culture and design customized and effective development experiences for your team. Or reach out to Andy directly.