Len Hawley, host of the Axe Files, a local radio show in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, was able to chat with Bryce Tully about organizational culture and how it’s more important than ever to take it seriously.
We can apply culture ideas from the sport space in the corporate space
- Change takes planning, time, energy and deliberate effort
- However, culture has a significant upside when used proactively
- There are concrete questions to start with when aligning culture
- The past few years have changed the game (with covid-19 and remote work)
So talk about innerlogic. Exactly, what is it?
Innerlogic is a culture-oriented company that provides deep-level diagnostic measurement and analytics on culture inside big complex organizations and environments. We started our business in the sports space. We signed contracts with basically every national sport organization in Canada through some of the governing body stuff that’s going on and then used that to understand non-sport environments better.
But at the end of the day, we’re doing the same thing in both places, where we’re helping organizations better understand the state and the health of the culture they create and the effect that culture has on both results and relationships inside of their business.
Bridging Sport to Corporate
What parallels can you see between sports and the workplace or society in general?
It parallels easily because people like how tangible and linear the outcomes in sport are. So it creates a more black-and-white or binary symbiosis between how something is run and how leadership is behaving to an actual outcome that we can all observe, watch, and see with our own eyes in the sports space. It helps us simplify, or for example, when we’re wearing the jersey of our favourite team, it gives us a greater sense of control, and it helps us understand what might be the cause of the way that this group is performing or behaving in these high-pressure situations.
Generally speaking, it’s been individually focused in the performance optimization space. So the world has done an excellent job with wearables and other things, understanding how one person is ticking.
But that untapped resource in our eyes is the intersectionality of a bunch of people working together to create a cohesive whole. And often, we assume that culture is sort of a one plus one equals three type relationship. But the reality is if you get culture wrong, it can often be a one plus one equals, -in sport right now-, -$500 million type relationship in terms of the issues that are starting to arise. So the stakes are high in getting people to work well together in safe, accountable, aligned environments.
Aligning Culture with Three Questions
Whether it’s a sports team or an office in a company you’re trying to put together, what are the keys when you’re trying to create that culture? What are two or three keys that create a unified culture?
Culture is a process, not an event. That’s the first thing I say to most groups we work with. This is going to take time, and it’s going to take a lot of little steps. It happens gradually. And then suddenly you go, wow, something’s ticking properly here, but it’s like watching your hair grow. There’s no motivational talk that’s going to really, truly shift your culture.
But to answer your question, there are three keys, three key questions really, if you can have honest conversations around the answers to these questions, then you’re on the right track. And the questions are: who are we? Where are we going? And why are we going there? If you can really dive into the nuances of those questions as a collective, you’re generally marching down the right path.
Forced Into a New Era of Culture
With what we’ve been through here over the last two and a half years, society has changed. How does it make what you do when you’re going out into the business community or sports community way more challenging?
With the pandemic, culture has changed a ton. The way that people work together has changed a ton. So the big challenge right now in the culture space is how worth it is to pursue that more human aspect of working together.
I like to think that you’re exchanging many things in any line of connection or communication with someone we work with. You’re exchanging information; that’s probably the easiest one. You’re exchanging energy; that one gets a lot more challenging in some of the new world of work and how normalized virtual work has become. And then I think most importantly, you’re exchanging values; So you’re actually signalling to other people what it is that you value and how far are you willing to go to stand up for those values. I think the latter two have been washed out a little bit. And people are really wrestling with how to create a tangible return on investment and getting those things back. There’s a long way to go before we figure out exactly what the ROI is on that.
The Future of Culture
What do you think culture will look like moving forward?
The status quo is working for some people, and it’s really not working for others. The reasons behind that are so complex, detailed, and nuanced that reaching a stage of alignment will be challenging. But at the same time, that’s the role that culture has played in teams forever, for decades and more.
Everyone has their own set of values personally. Everyone has their own personal experiences and life circumstances. But culture acts as this overarching umbrella or glue that brings all of that together towards something familiar and allows you to share some common principles, values, norms and behaviours in a particular environment. The role that culture and leadership in culture can play in that problem is huge at the end of the day. And optimistically, that’s the role that it’s always played anyway. We just need to apply it to a new kind of set of circumstances.
Bryce, it was neat to get your perspective and thoughts. I really appreciate you doing this, and I know I want to have you back and do it again sometime.
About the author
Bryce Tully, Chief Executive Officer at innerlogic.
He holds a master’s degree in Sport Psychology from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has worked as a Mental Performance Consultant with various Canadian Olympic teams for over a decade, including a most recent appearance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Bryce’s mission is to create the world’s best high-performance culture management experience and help organizations worldwide reap the tremendous benefits of enhancing and building their culture.