Like individuals, every organization has a unique beauty. But like individuals, no organization is without warts. The sooner you can look your organization in the mirror and make an honest appraisal of your beauty and your warts, the better. It’s a dead end to either become obsessed by your warts or to become infatuated by your beauty.
By God’s grace, New Life’s staff culture is more beautiful than when I arrived two years ago. There are lots of reasons for that, but none more significant than the process we went through a year ago to create a staff culture document and then to begin to invest time and energy toward making strides toward our staff culture document.
The process of choosing those values was messy, but the mess was important. Ultimately the process took just less than three months. I share our process not because I think we navigated the process perfectly or that we’ve arrived or that I would recommend the same exact process for another organization, but because there were important points of learning along the way for us that I hope can benefit you.
1. We committed to a process
Not everyone was thrilled that we were taking a significant amount of time to walk through developing a document that, to some, either didn’t seem to offer much hope for change, or was so obvious it didn't seem to need to be stated with a document. But everyone agreed that for it to truly be our staff's document, we all needed to take ownership. Furthermore, we agreed with the simple ground rules that our staff culture values would be those which represented “who we are at our best.” That spoke to the pessimists in the room, who might be tempted in such a document to focus on the warts. And it spoke to the optimists in the room, who might be tempted to include values that are great, but aren’t reflective of who we are.