How It Began
In August 2014, forty-five of us gathered in Deer Valley, UT, to help shape a Center for High-Performing Organizational Cultures. Many of us were faculty, staff, alumni or Board members at Westminster College. Some of us were currently or formerly with W. L. Gore & Associates. Some were consultants and practitioners. Some were thought leaders who had written books on high-performing organizational cultures. Many of us were business leaders in our own organizations. But all of us had a commitment to the idea that organizations had the possibility of being more productive places by better tapping and unleashing the potential of people. The problem, as we saw it, was an inappropriate reluctance to move away from traditional models of organizing.
There is no doubt that the current “bureaucratic-hierarchical” model of organization has contributed enormously to the economic well-being of the modern world. Yet there are reasons to look for ways to make significant improvements. For example, the Gallup organization reports that only about 30% of all employees in the American workforce are “actively engaged” in their work. That means, 70% of all employees are unable or unwilling to give or use their full potential at work. What a waste of human talent!
And according to Gallup, the 20% of workers who are “actively disengaged” represent a potential loss to American corporations of $450-550 billion annually! The problem of a disengaged workforce is likely to get worse. According to MSN Money, 53% of millennials aren’t engaged at work at all, and approach their jobs with a detachment typical of “temp workers.”
We also know the complexity and speed of change that organizations now face is stressing their capacity to adapt. However, some organizations using approaches different from the “bureaucratic-hierarchical” model seem to be thriving in this environment. They are innovative. They are capable of moving quickly. Their employees are energized and engaged. We firmly believe an organization’s culture can be a source of strategic competitive advantage.
We would like to develop and share knowledge, experience, and perspectives that can help organizations improve their performance while also becoming really great places to work. Something more, something better, is possible.