Organizational Culture and Employee Engagement

I have always been fascinated by team dynamics and organizational culture. As a Human-Centered designer, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to apply my skills and expertise inside organizations working on questions of values and vision. In my experience, it’s amazing how well the HCD mindset and methods support authentic discussion and tangible action for teams and organizations!

Below are a few examples of workshops I’ve created and facilitated to bring teams together:

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Tapping into Values as the Foundation for Business Strategy

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We all know, at least in theory, that our values are important barometers for measuring how well we live our lives. But how often does a team or organization take time to explore what they value collectively as a team, and how honoring those values will make them more successful in business? (spoiler alert: it will!)

I recently joined a small, growing team at their annual retreat to facilitate a values-focused, strategic planning workshop. We started by exploring their team values through the question “What makes a great team?” From there, we evaluated their year in review (employing one of my favorite brainstorming techniques, the Sh*t Storm), and connecting those pain points with moments when the team was not showing up with their core values. Taken together, the team was able to see how honoring their values actually enables them to work with clients in ways that not only feel authentic and aligned, but actually support the business’s financial and operational goals.

Joining Two Distinct Cultures into One Cohesive Team

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Recently I had the opportunity to join two teams inside a community hospital – the design thinking team and the lean operations team – as they went through the transformative process of merging. While aligned on their high-level vision and purpose, these teams were fundamentally different groups with unique methods, norms, and traditions. The question thus became: “How might we unify ourselves into one cohesive team, while continuing to nurture the elements of each group that are special and meaningful?”

To support this transition, I prepared and delivered a day-long workshop to begin the process of unifying the two teams. Through preparatory interviews, I learned about the differing styles of each teams, which helped me identify the activities that would best support conversations and action. Then, through a variety of consensus-building activities, the team identified its core values and discussed ways to put these values into action – a practice that continues today as they deliver human-centered care to patients and their families.