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May 2013

Creating Culture is Simple!

"Learning to take hold of one's life is very difficult in a culture that values property over life."

… Haki Madhubuti (b.1942) US poet &writer 

Have you ever wondered why attempts to create a constructive culture generally fail. If you have been reading our newsletter for any amount of time, no doubt you will know that I have thought about this a good deal.

After all, creating culture is simple. All you have to do is put a group of people together and wait. You do not even have to add water! In no time at all they will develop patterns of behaviour and relating and a culture is born. People who come into the group at later stage will tend to take on the culture of the group and so a culture can persist long after the original members of the group have departed.

However, what many organisational leaders seek is to create a desired culture, one that enhances the effectiveness of their organisation. If they are to be successful in achieving this then they need an understanding of what underpins culture. Clearly there are many different ideas out there defining culture. I find it useful to think of culture as a group's shared habitual patterns of thinking and acting. Therefore a shift in culture is a process of creating new habits of thinking and acting for the group. Understanding how we create habits is then critical if developing a desired culture is going to work. It is also useful to recognise that, although I am talking about shared habits, ultimately this involves individuals creating habits.

The process of creating a new habit is also simple, however clearly not easy! Habits are something we do without thinking about what we do, so the starting point in creating a new habit is to seek to establish awareness points when that habit is likely to play out in the future. Let us look at this in terms of a culture's foundations.

Any culture is built on values and we can deduce the values of a group of people by observing how they behave. For example, if the group acts in competition with each other, we can assume that "winning" is an important value for them. More often than not, these values are unspoken. They just are and they operate in the background. In our work, we distinguish between "espoused values", which are those people declare to be their values, and "values in practice", which are the values we deduce by observing people's actions.

This is also why creating a desired culture is simple but not easy. To begin with the group must espouse values that cover the spectrum of the culture they wish to create. If we use the constructive styles defined by Human Synergistics as a the basis for building a constructive culture then it makes sense to create a value for each of their constructive styles - Achievement, Self-Actualising, Humanistic-Encouraging and Affiliative. Most organisations do not do this in such a structured way. Rather certain people come together, create values from their conversations about their values but do not overtly connect them to the culture they wish to create.

The next key is to bring those values to life. This is where leadership comes into it. If an organisation's leader wants to create a desirable culture they must be accountable to hold the values at front of mind and hold others to account for them as well. They must do this again and again and again.

The most successful organisational cultural rebuilding comes when the head of the organisation understands their role and is completely committed to that process. If he or she is not then the chances of developing a desired culture is greatly undermined.

We invite you to explore more in the articles section of our web site.

Play Create Elevate

"Listen to sadness with special attention. It always speaks of matters of importance"

… Julio Olalla, Master Coach

wishing you good mental health…

Did you know that…

    1. Mental health issues cost $12 billion in lost productivity annually in Australia?
    2. Mental health claims now outnumber musculoskeletal claims?
    3. 1 in 7 people experience depression over their lifetime?
    4. 1 in 33 people experience bipolar disorder?

The statistics on mental health are mind-boggling and that’s just four of them! As we are expected to do ‘more with less’ in our workplaces and ‘more with less’ in our homes lives it is really no surprise that these numbers are a reality. It also means that it is highly likely that you or someone you know socially or someone you work with is experiencing a mood disorder of some description!

Indeed, if you know Jacqui personally you qualify. Jacqui’s approach to her mood disorder is “Five to Survive, then Thrive”. She believes there are five critical steps for her and other people experiencing mood disorders to take in order to make the best out of a challenging disease… because that’s what a mood disorder is. If you have diabetes you take insulin, if you break a leg you get it re-set and put in a cast, if you experience depression or bipolar disorder you need to take appropriate steps to manage your illness. And that’s what it is… an illness not a weakness.
These “Five to Survive, then Thrive” steps are equally important for colleagues, friends, family and significant others to know. So if think or have an inkling that you or someone you know might have an untreated or undiagnosed mood disorder now is the time to act and get educated.

At http://playcreateelevate.com.au/bounceforward you can read more about “Five to Survive, then Thrive” and you can find a range of resources to check out at http://playcreateelevate.com.au/resourcesandlinks.

play create elevate’s “good mental health & bouncing forward” programs

“good mental health & bouncing forward” programs are offered as one-hour briefings, half day workshops and one day programs. They are designed to be tailored to and meet the needs of your organisation’s good mental health and resilience goals.

“good mental health & bouncing forward” programs…

…inform participants how to support the early intervention and harm minimisation for themselves & others experiencing mental health issues.
…allow participants to take an active role in reducing the professional & personal impacts of mood disorders, such as lost productivity, impacts on the organisation’s bottom line and relationship breakdowns.
…supports and encourages the open and comfortable discussion of mental health challenges.

play create elevate’s full-day workshops:

  1. highlight the statistics
  2. explores the difference between being sad and being depressed
  3. identifies the signs and symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder
  4. walks through the steps to access appropriate support and intervention
  5. shares a ‘lived experience’ of depression and five steps to survive and then thrive
  6. explores and discusses unconscious bias related to depression and mental health issues generally
  7. explores resilience
  8. develops personalised ‘bouncing forward’ strategies
  9. explores and develops ways to have conversations about mental health concerns
  10. provides meaningful opportunities to engage in creativity and child-like play as a means of inoculating against stress, anxiety and depression

Elements of the one-day program make up the one-hour briefings and half-day workshops.
To book a session to meet the needs of your organisation’s good mental health and resilience goals or find out more contact Jacqui Chaplin  on  +61 (0)412 741 531 or email jacqui@jacquichaplin.com

Please check out the website, www.PlayCreateElevate.com.au, and let her know what you think.

More on PCE next month!

The Monthly Diversion

A Game to Try Us All

A nun walks into Mother Superior's office and plonks down into a chair. She lets out a sigh heavy with frustration.

"What  troubles you, Sister?" asked the Mother Superior, "I thought this was the day you spent with your family."

"It was"  sighed the Sister. "And I went to play golf with my brother. We try to play  golf as often as we can. You know  I was quite a talented golfer before I devoted my life to Christ."

"I seem to  recall that" the Mother Superior  agreed. "So I take it your day of recreation  was not  relaxing?"

"Far from  it" snorted the Sister. "In fact, I even  took the Lord's name in vain today!"

"Goodness,  Sister!" gasped  the Mother Superior, astonished. "You must tell me all about  it!"

"Well, we  were on the fifth tee and  this hole is a monster, Mother Superior. 540 yard Par 5,  with a nasty dog leg  left and a hidden green and I hit the drive of my life.  I creamed  it. The sweetest swing I ever made. And it's  flying  straight and true, right along the line I wanted...and then it hits a bird in mid-flight !"

"Oh my!"  commiserated the Mother. "How unfortunate! But surely that didn't make you blaspheme, Sister!"

"No, that  wasn't  it" admitted Sister. "While I was still trying to fathom what had happened, this squirrel runs out of the woods, grabs my ball and runs off down the fairway!"

"Oh, that  would have made me blaspheme!" sympathised the  Mother.

"But I  didn't, Mother!" sobbed  the Sister. "And I was so proud of myself! And while I was pondering whether this was a sign from God, this hawk swoops out of the sky and  grabs the squirrel and flies off, with my ball still clutched in his paws!"

"So that's  when you cursed" said the Mother with a  knowing  smile.

"Nope,  that wasn't it either" anguishly cried the Sister "because as the hawk  started to fly out of sight, the squirrel started struggling, and the hawk  dropped him right there on the green, and the ball popped out of his paws and rolled to about 18 inches from the cup!"

Mother  Superior sat back in her chair, folded her  arms across her chest, fixed the Sister with a baleful stare and  said...
"You missed the friggin' putt, didn't you?"


"Learn the fundamentals of the game and stick to them. Band-Aid remedies never last."

… Jack Nicklaus (b. 1940) US golfer


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