How visibility can influence your culture 

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 29th October 2018

I recently visited Launceston to spend a day with a local management team. I stayed in a very cool new hotel – Peppers Silo Hotel. As the name suggests, it is an old converted grain silo, and I loved it!

I had dinner in the hotel restaurant and was blown away by the way the kitchen worked. I have worked in restaurant kitchens in the past and have always found them chaotic places; run on energy, adrenalin, shouting, cursing and lots of urgency. These kitchens often produce great food but can have a challenging culture that is often set by the head chef. 

The kitchen last night was different, and how it operated was dictated by the fact that it was a completely open kitchen. Diners could see and hear everything that was happening in there, which of course influenced how the staff behaved as they created great food. I watched as the chefs worked in a focused and intense way, but without the drama, chaos and reactivity that I have seen in the past. They worked together in a collaborative way and were led by a calm head chef who set the tone. I believe that because the kitchen was open to the diners, this not only dictated how the staff worked, it actually set the tone for their culture. Did this lack of chaos and urgency lead to poorer quality food? Absolutely not, it was fantastic! 

Imagine if our clients could see the inner workings of how we produced work for them sometimes. I wonder if how we worked was totally transparent, we’d work more proactively and less reactively? Would we focus more and stop ourselves from getting so distracted? Would we learn to collaborate more effectively and with less friction? 

When it comes to productivity, many of our personal organising systems are somewhat invisible to others. Our schedule and meetings may be visible, but how we manage our emails, our tasks and our projects is often invisible to others. This can lead to less than effective productivity at the personal level, which in turn can influence the culture of the team or organisation.  

But when we commit as a team to adopting a common system to organise our work, and we develop agreements on how we will communicate, congregate and collaborate together, we begin to make how we work more visible. And this can start to shift the culture of our team to a more productive one. In fact, when we work with teams on this we call this a ‘Superproductive’ culture.   

I believe we can do better work with less stress if we work in a culture that supports productivity, rather than getting in its way.  

How would your team’s culture change if we made our organising systems visible to everyone? 

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