Many companies are surprising themselves during this crisis, with unexpected and inspiring adaptability responses. Let's learn how and why our org culture is suddenly doing (during crisis) what most of our companies could have been doing all along re: adaptability, courage, innovation, care and collaboration. 

  • Are you feeling proud about the work of your leadership?

  • Are you doing things you never dreamed possible or are you struggling with team members who are lost and confused?

  • What story will you tell when the COVID-19 pandemic is in the past and how will you make the most of the experience now?


Does the current, crisis-induced interpersonal climate mirror the organization’s culture? In many cases it does not. Right now is the time for leaders and teams to capture, reflect and understand why they are responding either effectively or ineffectively as an organization. 


Here is a quick, 3-step approach to more effectively capture the silver bullets of learning right now and compare them to pre-crisis behaviors so you can embed the operating model upgrades that you'd like to see persevere in your org, beyond the crisis. (This approach was developed by Human Synergistics International and is being delivered in partnership with Axialent all over the world to companies large, medium and small. This collaborative ongoing focus on mastering culture change, between Axialent, HSI and corporate clients... has been designed, deployed and re-designed inside of multinational organizations over the last two decades.)

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Start by engaging a team to provide unstructured feedback about what’s working, what’s not, and why - ask about the patterns of behavior that are emerging in the crisis.

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Sustainable change will depend on understanding the pre-crisis patterns of behavior and underlying beliefs along with what was reinforcing or encouraging them. Review each key learning and reflect on why it took a crisis to bring it out or to translate it to action. Capture some of the most significant systems, structures, job characteristics, and leadership approaches that were promoting the pre-crisis patterns of behavior.


Use a brief survey to measure and quickly engage organizational members on a larger scale, confirm some of the information gathered, and surface new insights. The survey will also help bring a common language and measurement to the process. Human Synergistics created the COVID-19 Culture Mirror to assist in this step. It is not a measure of culture (I.e., norms or beliefs) but rather captures and provides a snapshot of the patterns of behavior prevailing within an organization at this point in time. Robert A. Cooke developed the Culture Mirror by selecting items (behaviors) from his Organizational Culture Inventory® (OCI®), that have demonstrated a particularly strong positive or negative relationship to organizational adaptability and innovation.


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Steps 1 and 2 will provide the clarity necessary to refine your COVID-19 recovery plans as a step toward embedding positive culture change. They help transform the abstract into something leaders can understand and translate to three meaningful outcomes. The Mirror like the circumplex in general, helps to: quantify useful data, provide a language for understanding the current state of the organization, identify the dimensions that are attractive/effective, and helps us prioritize actions to be taken in order to sustain and embed them beyond the crisis.


Clearly prioritize, document, and communicate the lessons learned and related refinements across your team so everyone learns from the process.


Identify initiatives that are necessary and feasible in the short-term to begin to embed positive change and those that will need to wait until the crisis begins to subside.

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