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JD Evolution 2021

Normalcy is returning to my professional world.

I attended an in-person conference for the first time since 2019. What a relief! And what a workout for my networking and listening muscles! I find that these events fly by -- one speaker after the other, coffee breaks and chatting, shutting out the world beyond those walls.

I was so focused on hearing from experts in the leadership world that I didn’t even realize it was gray and damp outside. I took sloppy notes in my program booklet. And then, I drove home and laid that program on my desk. Sure, I shared my takeaways with my colleagues, but I did not implement anything I thought I should right away. I needed time to digest, so here I am, reflecting on the 7th annual JD Evolution Live Leadership Conference held October 5, 2021.

This year’s theme was “Making Money | Doing Good” and according to John Dame, the best companies are doing this through an “intentional and robust culture and team.” The highlights of the event included a morning workshop, a growth panel discussion, then an afternoon keynote speaker.

David Friedman, author of Culture by Design, started the day with an engaging workshop on the importance of culture in the workplace. Employees boast or complain about their workplace culture, but what exactly is it and where does it come from?

I thought his first example introduced the concept in terms that everyone in the room could understand. He told us about his hometown and the strong reputation of its successful high school girls’ lacrosse team. Girls grow up there and want to become a part of it. Why is that team successful year after year? Especially since it has two forces threatening its success: the player pool is limited to that single town and there is extreme turnover. Every year, the seniors graduate and first-years arrive.

Again, why is that team so successful?

That team has a strong culture.

What would happen if your employee pool was limited to your town, or even your region, and your turnover rate mimicked that of the high school lacrosse team?

Is your company culture as strong as the lacrosse team’s? What does the lacrosse team do to repeat success year after year? It’s quite simple…

Expectations are high. Every year the team wins because the players who strive to make the team want to be on a winning team. They work hard to win.

“An organization is only as good as its people perform.” -David Friedman

Friedman presented his 8-step framework for organizations to embed a high-performing culture. He emphasized that those posters hanging on the walls of your workplace are not culture. They may display inspiring messages, a lofty vision, or just beautiful scenery with some words, but they do not inspire action or performance. The first two steps of his framework are the most important: defining and ritualizing.

The Communication Gym team is working on clarifying our culture, and that begins with step one: Defining. What does great look like for us? What behaviors do we expect of all employees? What do our great employees do? Notice the shift in thinking here. We aren’t talking about values, we are looking at desired actions.

It has only been a month since I heard David Friedman speak and I already recognize a change in the way I consider my desired culture for The Communication Gym.

What does great look like for your organization?

Stay tuned for more reflections on Evolution 2021 and subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss our weekly workouts.

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