Environments with strong collaborative norms and values encourage people to work toward a shared goal or vision.
Environments with strong Cultures of Genius prize competition over collaboration because they strive to be able to separate out and reward the elite few that “have it” from the many others that don’t. They often set up reward structures to limit resources and opportunities to these select few.
Environments with strong Cultures of Growth recognize that collaboration -- sharing ideas with others, gathering feedback, and improving ideas based on that feedback-- is the best way to surface innovative ideas and hone them into something great.
How to move toward a Culture of Growth through collaboration:
- Redo rating systems: Ensure that evaluation metrics assess for growth and learning, and not only performance.
- Compete to collaborate: Encourage competition among employees–to see which teams can collaborate the best!
Creativity & Innovation
An environment’s norms around innovation and creativity provide information to people about whether they are encouraged to think big and try out new ideas–or whether they should continue with "business as usual."
Strong Cultures of Growth encourage and reward people for searching out novel ideas to improve outcomes or processes, and view innovative and creative pursuits as learning opportunities, even when they don’t work out.
In strong Cultures of Genius, being creative comes with the risk of failure– and failure in these environments leads to shame and blame. In these environments, people are encouraged to rely heavily or solely on how things have been successful in the past so new ideas and ways of working are rarely offered or pursued.
How to move toward a Culture of Growth by fostering creativity and innovation:
Dedicate time to innovate: Carve out time and space explicitly for people to explore new ideas and approaches, or dive deeper into challenges or questions they may have about how things are currently done. To maximize the learning, provide time for people to share their new learnings with each other.
Risk-taking refers to whether people feel empowered to diagnose a problem and experiment with a novel solution or to set ambitious goals that require new approaches.
In strong Cultures of Growth data is used to inform risk-taking and experimentation that produces learning is highly valued and viewed as essential to achieve innovation and creativity.
Strong Cultures of Genius rely on the gut responses of its stars (rather than data) and risk-taking is often avoided because the chances of failure can threaten the group’s success and reputation. In these environments, the risk of failure is viewed as a worse outcome than the risk of failing to experiment and learn.
How to move toward a Culture of Growth by supporting risk-taking:
Use data to inform risk-taking: Set up a system to monitor progress toward a goal that allows you to routinely assess whether the idea or approach you’re trying out is getting you closer to your goal. Make sure to build time for reflection and learning into this monitoring system.
Integrity & Ethics
An environment’s norms around integrity & ethics signal to members to what extent unethical behavior–like cheating, withholding information, or cutting-corners– is common in that environment, as well as the extent to which it is accepted or condoned by the leadership in that setting.
In strong Cultures of Genius, performance is the driving focus, and one’s opportunities to remain and succeed in these environments is contingent on sustained, high performance. This can lead people to achieve by any means necessary, including through the use of unethical behaviors.
Strong Cultures of Growth, on the other hand, value the process as well as the outcome, and know that learning and growth require transparency and honesty. When ethical lapses do occur, people in a Culture of Growth are encouraged to engage in self-reflection and accountability to uphold their and the organization’s integrity.
How to move toward a Culture of Growth by ensuring integrity and ethics:
Integrate ethics everywhere: Be explicit about your expectations around honesty and transparency. Ensure that you have clear, accessible reporting systems through which people feel safe to report problems. Consider systems that ensure anonymity to protect those that fear retaliation.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Diversity, equity, and inclusion represent a collection of processes aimed at creating a setting in which everyone can thrive. These goals include hiring and retaining people with a variety of identities, backgrounds, and perspectives; distributing resources, support, and power within an environment so that all members feel empowered to succeed; and building a culture in which everyone feels they are valued and respected.
Environments with strong Cultures of Growth value diversity not just for optics, but because they know it makes them better. They recognize that a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences is necessary to think broadly and creatively, and solve their most pressing challenges.
In strong Cultures of Genius, the goal is to find the “geniuses”-- and the prototype for who can be a genius is often very narrow. This narrow lens often restricts who is allowed into the setting, as well as the opportunities for success and longevity that are afforded to them once inside.
How to move toward a Culture of Growth by cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion:
- Open channels for communication: Ensure that there are regular, accessible opportunities for people from underrepresented groups to speak with leadership.
- Reevaluate the messages you’re sending: If you don’t yet have people from underrepresented groups in your setting, consider why that might be the case. Is your website or reputation signaling concerns around DEI to prospective members? Are there barriers to entry that disproportionately may impact people from certain groups? What norms, policies, or interactions in the environment may send existing group members headed for the exit?