6 Ways to Build Culture. The Third Entity™.

The Third Entity™ is concept developed by The Center for Right Relationship (CRR Global) to describe the relationship that connects us but essentially has an existence of its own. In an organization it’s called culture. If the founder leaves the organization, the culture (and Third Entity) change. This phenomenon isn’t isolated to corporations.

The same thing happens at home when my husband and I have had an empty nest for 6 months and suddenly have it disrupted by having an 18 year old at home. The Third Entity shifts. The relationship has more of a strain because there are more needs to be met (and more food to be purchased) and boundaries tested (dishes being washed at 3 AM). The Third Entity

I had the privilege to test out the Third Entity of my Rotary club a few weeks ago. I say, test out, because I had never used some of the tools that I learned from CRR Global until I used my Rotary Club as guinea pigs. I have to say it was an eye opening and inspiring experience. I’ve been a Rotary member for over 10 years but to actually work with this group to discuss our culture and aspirations was really gratifying. You just don’t know until you know.

So this is what I learned about the group culture that ties us together:

1. Alliance. It’s really important to clarify the team alliance. When was the last time you verbalized what your marriage or culture or relationship is all about. What is the basis for its existence. I asked the club what sort of culture they wanted to create and the first thing that anyone said was “Fun”. I have to say it’s one of the main reasons I enjoy getting up every Wednesday for a 7 AM (yes…7 AM) meeting; we always have fun. Always. There is always good natured ribbing, crazy birthday hats and a joke that’s just clean enough to tell but raises a few eyebrows. Clarify your team alliance.

2. Flourish. What will it take for your team or relationship to flourish? I was surprised that there were many viewpoints on this question. Some folks said we needed more members, others said more fundraisers, and still others said more participation. These are all very different tangents for a small club of some 30 members. When is the last time you asked your spouse or partner or organization at-large what it will take to flourish? I think you would be surprised at the answer. It might be time to ask.

3. Conflict. Find out how you want to handle conflict. As in Patrick Lencioni‘s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, “All great relationships, the ones that last over time, require productive conflict in order to grow. This is true in marriage, parenthood, friendship, and certainly business.” If you can’t debate and raise some of the “Elephant in the Room” issues, it is impossible to progress. If you are surrounded by a lot of “Yes Men”…you are not likely to be making the best decisions. Create some ground rules on how to handle conflict and to make sure it’s not taboo.

4. Alignment. It’s not critical that we are in lock step as much as that we are headed in the same direction. You and I don’t need to be on the same exact path for us to succeed but we need to be in alignment. Marketing and Operations are going to take very different paths but if they know and are aligned with the overarching goal of “Outstanding Customer Experience” then we can succeed. Marketing might be creating authentic marketing collateral while Operations is making sure the quality and delivery times are superior. Different paths but aligned to the goal. Be aligned.

5. Listen. We need to be able to listen to dissenting voices. Some of the Rotarians wanted more members and others joined because we were a small group. These are dissenting views. But it had to be spoken. It needed to be acknowledged. This shows up all the time in parenting. Dad wants Johnny to go to the concert and Mom doesn’t. Let it be spoken so both sides can be heard. Listen to the dissenting view even if you don’t agree. Acknowledge the differing viewpoint. “So I hear you saying that Johnny shouldn’t go because there are likely to be drugs present”. Listen to dissenting views.

6. Decisive. Someone needs to make a decision; whether it’s the president of the Rotary club, the parent or the department head. Are we after more members or are we going to let it be? Dad acknowledges Mom’s apprehensions but they decide to say “Yes”. Decide and commit to move forward. If you don’t, there are back alley deals that will go on which will undermine the Third Entity. As Patrick Lencioni espouses, “Great teams understand the danger of seeking consensus, and find ways to achieve buy-in even when complete agreement is impossible.” Give up on consensus, make sure everyone has had their say, decide, commit and move on.

I think what surprised me the most about coming up with the team alliance with my Rotary Club is how much we were of the same mind. Here is a diverse group of professionals from varied fields, industries and backgrounds but we all had the same ideals. Service above Self. It’s the team culture that holds us together.

The Eeyore Effect. Don’t Mess with My Chi.

There are those who will wish you good morning. If it is a good morning, which I doubt” -Eeyore.

Sometimes I feel like the world is awash with Eeyores.  You know, the glass half empty people.  The punch list for the year long project has 100 items on it and all but one is checked off. We focus on the one incomplete item and gnash our teeth. Really?  Only one box left to check off and we are failures?  Quit messing with my chi. Eeyores Gloomy Place

What in the world do we do with these folks?  How do we dig out from the negative muck they produce on a daily basis?  Let’s pull up our boot straps or sandal straps (does anyone have boot straps any more?) and figure out how to bring some positivity into the work place and your life. Let’s figure out how to maintain some sunshine for the rest of us.

Here are some tips:

1. Losada Ratio.  Dr. Marcial Losada created and studied this ratio of positive to negative messages within relationships and organizations.  What he found was that organizations that have 2.9 or more positive messages over negative messages thrive.  Those that fall below fail.  In a marriage, it’s got to be 5.0 or better (thanks for emptying the garbage, Honey).  So if you want your business or relationship to thrive, stick a sock in it and start pumping some sunshine.

2. Gratitude.  Many author’s including Martin Seligman in the book “Flourish” recommend a gratitude journal or as he says “What went well”.  I do this.  Everyday before I go to sleep, I write three things that went well.  I have to believe that it improves my dreams because right before I put my head on the pillow, I’m thinking about all that went right.  It’s not like it’s gotta be “I climbed Mt. Everest”.  It could be “I got dressed” or “I made it to work on time”.  Focus on the positive.

3. Scenarios.  Reframe the scenario.  We all tend to focus on the negative.  If we make a change, the project will be delayed.  If it rains, the grass can’t be mowed.  Our limbic system makes us focus on the negative.  In “Flourish”, Martin Seligman suggests looking at the worst case scenario, but then looking at the best case scenario, and then looking at the most likely scenario.  The project might be late but it will serve twice the amount of customers.  The grass will grow… and the flowers as well.  When your coworker starts catastrophizing the outcome, ask about the best and most likely scenario.

4. Outcomes.  Ask your friend about what his best outcome would be.  Focus on The What that he’s interested in.  So Joe, “what would you like to see happen with this project?”  “What can you control in this situation?” “What would make you feel like you accomplished something?”  As David Rock espouses, focus on solutions (and stay clear of the problems). Keep it outcome based.

5. Hood.  If you are living in the 100 Aker Wood, stay clear of Eeyore’s Gloomy Place (rather boggy and sad).  Watch what neighborhood you hang out in.  If it’s obvious that your household or your organization is on the low end of the Losada Ratio, pitch in and turn it around or move on.  In the long run, if you sitting around all the gloom and bogginess, eventually the organization won’t be there or the relationships that brought the house together won’t be either.  And if you seek out a new “hood”, make sure you are taking the temperature (or feeling the vibe) of a potential new “hood”.  If you see any donkeys, move on.

If it turns out the Eeroye is a really important irreplaceable person in your life, say your child or your parent;  it might be time for a frank discussion.  Explain the impact it’s having on your life or your “chi”.  Sometimes they just don’t realize how they are being perceived and their impact on those around them.

How do you deal with the Eeroyes in your life?