Sometimes in life we are lucky enough to connect with people who truly inspire us. David Irvine, davidirvine.com, is one of those such people for me. I was fortunate to have taken a workshop with David 25 years ago. Yes, back then he was a participant like the rest of us. Over the years, I have followed his work, read his books and listened to his talks. David is gifted. One of his greatest gifts is that of a storyteller. He is able to tell stories that we can all relate to. This is how he delivers his message. Always, the stories are from the heart. David is also admittedly a good observer.
This time, David was in town to speak to the EARN (Employee Attraction and Retention Network)Breakfast. He was speaking on the importance of culture in our organizations, teams and families. “While goals give you direction, culture gives you the energy to get there,” he shared. Culture answers four questions: What do we value? Where are we headed? What makes us special? What is it we do that makes a difference in people’s lives? To illustrate one of his points, David shared the puzzle analogy. He said in so many ways our organizations are trying to build a puzzle with no clear idea of the completed image. We are very busy trying to put pieces together, without knowing what it should look like in the end. He also said, ” Culture trumps talent.” And went on to talk of the Olympic super star teams that are not always successful because they can only play as individuals, not as a team. With a strongly defined and aligned culture, organizations have better hiring, better promotions, better internal fit, better engagement and better retention. There are three critical components to designing an aligned culture: Our vision, where do we aspire to go? Our claim, who we say we are. Our reality, who we really are.
David suggests there are six steps to designing and building an aligned culture.
1. Make building trust your #1 leadership priority.
2. Create meaningful conversations around your core values.
3. Make values actionable.
4. Turn actions into mutually agreed upon promises.
5. Continuous reinforcement.
6. Engage people through values alignment.
Ultimately a positive culture is one where individuals values overlap with those of the organization. It is a place which is life giving for those in it. It is a place for people to unleash their greatness. David defines greatness as the commitment and capacity to fulfill your natural, authentic potential. After all, isn’t that what life is all about?
“You are not here merely to make a living. Your are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” Woodrow Wilson