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See Ya Later, June!

June sucks. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere there is a frenzy to June that is intensified with the proximity of summer and the promise of long days, warm nights and a feeling of freedom that can only come from a road trip. The only thing in our way is June.

This June brought a great deal of new requests for us at Thought Architects. We had five requests for facilitation – to help teams be better together, to make big decisions, to deal with communication struggles, to make meetings more productive, to reset. As we plan these and talk with our clients, we are hearing that teams are struggling. They are tired, frustrated and ready for a rest.

So, is it June or something else?

I think it is something else…and here is my take: it is a crisis of identity.

What do I mean by identity? There is role identity which is personal, who a person believes they are.

I am referring to organizational identity. Organizational Identity tells a group why it exists as a group, what work is done, and why work is done in the way that it is. It informs what the organization does and does not do, it informs the collective knowledge patterns, the skills that are honoured and honed, and how the environment is shaped. Identity is not static, and it is not one-dimensional. It is multi-faceted and always shifting and changing in subtle ways based on those we work with, interact with, support and serve. It is both perception and reality: organizational identity is not just declared, it is also rooted in the skills, behaviours and ways that an organization operates. Both are necessary to operate in harmony.

When there is a misalignment or incongruence between the perception and reality at any level, organizations are unbalanced. Organizations are groups of people, and so people are unbalanced.

Over the pandemic individuals were faced with questions about what was important to them, who they were, and how they wanted to live. No one came out of 2022 being the same as they were going into 2020.

Can we say the same of organizations? How many businesses or teams understand their organizational identity? How did an organizational identity change based on the changes the staff went through, or their clients, patients or key people they work with? How do organizations need to change based on the environment that is today?

Many groups have not done that deep dive - they are just "going back to normal". You may hear the need to explore identity in corporate speak terms like “pivoting,” “break down silos”, “level-set”, or “adaptive strategy.”

I prefer to think of it more tangibly. I help organizations answer three key questions: 1) why does an organization exist; 2) why do the groups in the organization do the work they do; and 3) why do they do it that way? These are questions that are answerable, tangible and provide the grounding for people and the organization to build collective mindsets and collective skills and to achieve the results they want to achieve.

Here is the thing: these questions are never “one and done.” Organizational identity is always shifting and evolving and so they must be attuned to regularly. It is, as a friend of mine often puts it: business therapy! One thing is for sure – more business therapy is needed now than ever.

These ideas and more will be the focus of the discussion with Theresa Tang at our last Campfire Chat before summer on June 28th. Join us, reflect, learn and enjoy the opportunity to say a collective fond farewell to June.

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