Jim McCarthy will be presenting the keynote "Culture Hacking and the coming era of Magnificence" on Wednesday evening of the conference.
We asked him to elaborate on culture hacking and he and his wife Michele, (and colleague) were kind enough to oblige. You can find out much more about the McCarthys at their website http://www.mccarthyshow.com/
Culture Hacking: The Magnificent Destiny of Software and the
People Who Use It
By Jim and Michele McCarthy
The era of designed culture begins now.
What is a culture?
A culture both describes and shapes a group. It is made up of a set of elements: shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices. And more. Any group who lives according to a unique set of these elements has a culture. Corporations, civic groups, and even families have their own cultures.
There are millions, maybe billions, of cultures.
How do things stand with cultures now?
Cultures are something you more or less inherit. You walk into them and take your best guess about how they work. There is no way to opt in or out.
Cultures are made up of a jumble of attitudes and practices along with a concoction of rules, mores, and taboos. Typically, none of it is written down. There are no references, guides, or even explicit rules for the cultures in which you live. At the extremes, there may be laws, or formal corporate policies. Someone might help you. Otherwise, you are on your own. It’s anybody’s game.
Whether or not a given culture is comfortable to live in, productive for the people who work in it, or helpful or rewarding in any way for anyone at all is pretty much an accident of fate.
In 1996, we began experimenting with team cultures in a way that would change things.
To address the specific problem of self-destructive behaviors within teams in corporations, we created and repeated an experiment. Our experiment requires that a group of people do the following over a period of four or five days:
Form an aligned teamCreate a state of shared visionDesign, implement and deliver a great product.In this environment, we found we could rapidly develop and deploy new cultural elements as they were discovered and/or created. Every innovation was repeatedly tested by many teams in different situations.
We have been iterating the same experiment for the last 16 years.
We assessed the results of the ongoing experiments in two ways. We looked for correlations between experimental elements and the state of that team’s end product.We examined the effects of cultural elements on individual team members:what they felt was their most significant learning or collaborative experiencetheir immediate sense of personal gainwhether or not any gains persisted into their post-experiment life.Using these rough measures, we determined which innovations were most effective and which could be discarded. The new knowledge from each experiment was recorded and passed on to succeeding teams as their starting point.
We continued to experiment in our own teamwork laboratory. We also began trying out the most successful practices in everyday corporate settings. As it turns out, we were also unconsciously inventing the process of incrementally creating cultures.
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