Whose Job is Culture?

June 1, 2023

Whose Job is Culture?

Part of a ‘Teal organization’s’ way of being is to listen carefully to what is happening in the organization and respond. Not just to the loud voices but also to the processes that are being formed daily, that take us along our journey and tell us it is time to change.

This is happening with respect to our organizational structure. When we first changed from job descriptions to roles, we developed a role for Culture Lead. Often, culture is something we talk about and think about when things go wrong. We wanted a way of embedding it in our everyday practice, so that we grow the culture we desire with intention and consistent with our values.

There is a story that goes like this:

“This is the story of four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure the Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.”

It was with this story in mind that we decided to assign the role of Culture Lead in each program. Throughout the past 6 years the Culture Network has come together monthly to learn together about distributed leadership, share our successes and our challenges and support each other in making transformative change in the way that we do business at Compass.

If Culture is everyone’s responsibility, why have a lead? The same argument can be made for pedagogy, or for admin, licensing, finances, etc. So, what is the role of lead about? It is assigning accountability to a role that makes it stand out as important. That gives it equal footing to other leads and it cannot be lost in the myriad of other duties and responsibilities. There have been a few developments in our organizational practices that have led to a change in how we think about culture leads as the responsibility of one.

We are all stewards of culture. Within our programs we have humans who are stepping up and creating a joyful space for our teams. They are the folks who put up the gratitude boards, post messages in the bathroom that make you smile, cry and sometimes give you shivers. They are the ones who bring you a coffee or a plant or a hug to make your day and let you know they are there for you. We are all stewards of culture.

As our organization becomes larger, it is constantly on our minds how we can bring our family closer, keep the connections flowing in reciprocal communication circles. To this end, we decided to change up our network meetings so that every quarter, the other lead networks – admin and pedagogy – would come together for a full day meeting focused on culture.

Going forward, the Culture Network will meet quarterly and will include both Admin and Ped Leads. The focus of these meetings will be to nurture a culture of distributed leadership that includes transparency, empowerment, creativity and individual and collective purpose.

Thanks to all of you who are champions of culture, creating the safe, caring, joyful spaces every day, and listening and learning about how else we might create the world that we want to live in.

~ Sheila Olan-MacLean, Co-CEO