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Development Culture in Your Organization

Author: Peggy Simonsen
Copyright: ©1997
Publishers: David-Black Publishing. Palo Alto, CA
Book Review by: Cathy Bernatt

Development Culture

In November 1999, I quit a job of 8 1/2 years due to feeling that my creativity and ideas were being squashed more and more and as a result I was becoming increasingly unhappy and personally unfulfilled. I tried to communicate my needs and desires very clearly to my bosses. Reality was, there was no more room for me to grow and for me growing and the freedom to exercise my creativity were key to my inner satisfaction.

In February 2000, I began to fulfill a long held dream to create "the company" that I always wanted to work for. "Development Culture in Your Organization" could not have been recommended at a better time. While reading it, I found myself continuously shaking my head in agreement with the principles and philosophy of a development culture.

My philosophy is that by putting people first, creating trust and honest communication, developing a shared vision and mission and supporting lifelong learning for all members of a team, we can create a "sanctuary" –- a place where people feel excited to come to everyday; where they can serve others, and in doing so, gain inner satisfaction as they work toward achieving their personal and work goals at the same time. This, I believe, is the essence of a development culture.

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For so many corporations, people are looked at as an expendable resource to be exploited. In a development culture, people are number one. For, as Lance Secretan says, in Reclaiming Higher Ground, "Building greatness (or a Sanctuary) is achieved one human being at a time... the difference between whether an organization is mediocre or superb is determined by whether all its individual members are mediocre or superb." (Secretan, p. 52) Creating superb people is a primary goal in a development culture. The first step in achieving this is to find mutual values.

In my first official Creating ...® meeting, I asked each member of the team to share one word which was most important in expressing a value they hold dear. We went around, and as each person shared, we realized that there was tremendous overlap in our values. It was the beginning process in forming a statement of shared values. For our second meeting, I asked everyone to think about what their own personal and professional goals were and how they saw being able to achieve them. Although we are only beginning this company, I explained my philosophy of lifelong learning and said once we were liquid; I wanted to formulate a policy that supported individual staff development that would assist each person to achieve their personal and professional goals. One of my strengths is in coaching and motivating others to accept and believe that we are better than we know we are. Everything is possible -- if you can dream it, I believe you can realize it.

Most people are uncomfortable with change and the unknown. A key factor that works to lessen fear associated with change is communicating clear goals. Once clear goals are communicated and expectations understood every member then has responsibility to commit and deliver. Evaluating and monitoring oneself and each other is important and honest feedback needs to happen at this stage. Mistakes are accepted in a development culture, as risk taking is necessary to grow and learn. Taking risks opens the door to innovation and creativity but it also increases chances of mistakes being made. But to grow, people need to feel free to take risks and make mistakes. The key afterwards is to stand at a distance and learn from the mistakes. At Creating...® we are building a development culture!

Gottlieb, M. R., & Conkling, L. (1995). Managing the workplace survivors: Organizational downsizing and the commitment gap. Westport, CT: Quorum Books

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