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Maine ATD thoughts, News, & Happenings

  • Tuesday, October 18, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today's program was really good! 

    Generally, I think most of our programs are really good, but I guess I'm not always writing a blog post after them, so there's that.

    Today, Kathleen Kerr gave us “Moderating vs Facilitating – Learn the different skills needed to be an effective moderator,” which really got me thinking!

    I've facilitated a lot for a long time--and both facilitated as in content-neutral, process guide and as in learning facilitator with some expertise in the content. So, the distinction between the roles was really interesting and created new facets in my "Crystal Palace"--OK, wouldn't it be cool to be one of those Sherlock-y people who visualizes the complex relationships to that degree? perhaps "Crystal Cottage" is more accurate! :) 

    Anyway, all of that thinking about the roles and nuance resulting from purpose, was joined by the prospect of building a panel. I guess until she said it, I assumed panel moderators were brought in just to moderate after the panel had been assembled by someone else. I don't know who I think I am. I have only worked in the non-profit/education sector where there has never been enough money to toss around to have two or more people do what one person can do by herself, so obviously it would be the same person, but...

    The prospect of building a panel really got me! Then, already primed by the facets of my Crystal Cottage regarding roles and responsibilities of Moderators and Facilitators, I suddenly saw the kagillion facets of humans and the x to the 10th power or that in their interests/perspectives, and Whoosh!

    Imagine being a moderator who is assembling a panel of people to talk about a hot button topic. Consider all you must consider:

    • what is our context?
    • why are we looking at this topic in this group?
    • why is it hot?
    • what are the different perspectives of this topic?
    • which of those perspectives must we include in our panel?
    • how big/small should our panel be?
    • what voices do we need to represent for it to be taken seriously?
    • what voices do we need to represent to serve the topic and the group?
    • who has those voices?
    • what does each of those people bring?
    • how does each of those people connect?
    • and on and on

    I work with volunteers, and so this idea of finding people who don't just fill a role, but also bring value to the role is wonderful! I love the idea of being thoughtful on all sides of the invitation to help--whether on a panel or on a board or with a troop of Girl Scouts:

    • Is this role right for me? +Is this person right for this role?
    • What will I get out of this role?    +What will this person bring to this role?
    • Who will I/this person be serving and serving with?
    • How will that work?

    So many things!

    People are awesome and wonder-filled and weird and difficult and mysterious and brilliant!

    That's what I loved about today's program, too! It was offered by Kathleen, who is chapter member and a volunteer for ATD Maine! AND she came on the heels of Richard Parent and Sheila Adkins, also both members and board members for our chapter! Our chapter is a treasure chest of brilliance and insight and experience and opportunities for discovery!

    Where does your brilliance lie? What interests or insights or experience might you share with us? And how would that sharing serve you?

    Let's dive into that next week.

  • Tuesday, October 11, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It turns out that there are a bunch of rules of thirds!

    Go figure!

    There is the one for art where you divide your field into thirds both horizontally and vertically and place important parts of the picture along the guidelines and at the intersections of them.

    Lighthouse Painting: Example of Rule of Thirds (with grid)

    And then there is the sports rule of thirds Alexi Pappas mentions in her book Bravey. A coach told her 

    “When you're chasing a big goal, you're supposed to feel good a third of the time, okay a third of the time, and crappy a third of the time...and if the ratio is roughly in that range, then you're doing fine.”

    I like the picture for that one, too:

    But I'm really thinking about a whole other rule of thirds! My colleague Suzanne opens many presentations with the reminder to participants that they are critical to the success of the workshop as she explains that the topic accounts for about a third of the session's quality, the presenter another third, and the participants the other third!

    I love that!

    Haven't you done presentations that were spectacular, and you knew that you'd been your regular level of awesome, but the participants were engaged and engaging? And surely you have topics you prefer to present than others. Obviously you do a great job with the duds, but some topics just sing for you, right? And of course, some days you just aren't on as well as your normal brilliance. It happens. I know all of those situations have been true for me many times!

    Lately, though, I've been wondering about other opportunities to apply this rule of thirds. 

    I posit that it applies anywhere one is involved.

    If I'm a member of a club, I find more meaning from that club if I put more energy into it with the other members.

    If I'm a member of a community, I appreciate the community more when I'm invested in it with my neighbors.

    I love that feeling of "we're all in this together!"

    What about you? Where are you invested, with whom? and What do you get out of it in return?

    Where else would you like to test that rule of thirds to find meaning?

  • Tuesday, October 04, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Did you know: (I'm sure you do, but just in case) The MerryMeeting Bay is one of four confluences in the world.

    Three are famous, having loomed large in the histories and economies of their regions: the Sacramento, San Joaquin delta in California; Tigris, Euphrates delta in Iraq; and the Ganges, Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh. The fourth is Merrymeeting Bay in Maine. It is unfamiliar to most people, even within its immediate vicinity. (source)

    (If you haven't gone to give it a look lately, do it this autumn--straightaway to see it at peak--by going out SR24, which starts as Elm in Topsham, then becomes Middlesex at the rail overpass. Keep going past the Cathance Road a couple of miles until you notice a cemetery on your left. Look to the right to see a stunning view of the MerryMeeting Bay. The book about it at the link above is really interesting, too.)

    I love that idea of "confluence"--the merging of similar but apparently distinct parts. I often notice it in things I read and listen to, noticing how an article, book, or interview has so much more meaning because of another I've recently read or heard. Or maybe because of a project I'm working on.

    Right now, for example, I'm preparing workshops for a conference. Coincidentally, a podcast I listen to interviewed Woo-Kyoung Ahn about her new book Thinking 101, which is based on a class she teaches and includes lots of ways we short-cut thinking with biases and assumptions. I promptly got the book and read it. (OK, listened to it on Audible, but...)

    Then, I read a blog post by Fox Wizard--Dr. Jason Fox--on Smuggling Insight wherein he looks at "slipping past the gatekeepers," referring to the ways we resist new information! THEN, in another podcast, I listened to Dr. Erika James & Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten discuss their book, The Prepared Leader, in which a central theme is how we need to get out of our ego and to prepare for something unexpected to happen and mess up our timeline! (This book is next in my queue!)

    I needed the messages in these three sources right now. 

    Of course I've been building and offering workshops for a long time. I have a degree in education and another in psychology, so I should know this stuff, right?


    And isn't it lovely when things come together in a way to shine a new light on what we "know" to challenge us to look at it from a different angle or two (or 360)?

    Each of these in their own way took me back to more recently reminders in Adam Grant's Think Again, Carol Dweck's Mindset, and Brian Grazer's Curious Mind--and others! 

    Aren't there a lot of smart people "out there" with so many amazing insights?

    What confluences are you noticing in your life, now or as you look back?

    How are you drawing on those to find meaning?

  • Tuesday, September 27, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    How do Meaning, Mattering, and Belonging relate to each other? And how do we as talent development professionals, as learning professionals create meaning and a sense of mattering and belonging for the participants in our work?

    We tend to experience negatives so much more intensely and remember them more pointedly than positives (#BrainOnTheSavannah?), so I'll start by asking you to remember a time when you felt like you didn't belong or like you didn't matter.

    What was that like for you? How did it feel in your body? What was it about the situation that made you feel like you didn't belong or didn't matter? How did you feel about the others in the group or place? What did you want to do? Or what DID you do?

    Take a minute to really think about that feeling.

    If you were to re-write that story to make our hero (you) feel confident, like you matter and belong in that situation, how would you write it? What would you change outside of your character

    Would you add someone? Would you give someone who was there some special lines to say that would make a difference? What would you change? And HOW would that make a difference to our hero (you) in the end?

    As people who enjoy learning, we sometimes have a hard time imagining how vulnerable some of our learners feel when they participate in our sessions. Personally, I love that feeling of being a bit off balance in a class because I know that means I'm going to learn something, AND I have lots of positive feelings, memories, and results from both the learning process and having learned things, so I DIG THAT FEELING!! Bring it on!!

    But what if you have a history of feeling humiliated if you're wrong about something? or a history of being told you need to have all the answers? or of not trusting people around you to give you grace?


    We are super powerful in our role--we know this!! We can create and change energy in our sessions, whether we are in person or virtual, by using language, activities, physical structure, tools, groupings, and more. It's like magic! However, we have to think about it--to plan for it--to be aware of what our learners need and to use these techniques to make a difference.

    What can you do?--What can we do as talent development professionals, as learning professionals to create space where learners find meaning, feel belonging, and are reassured that they matter as they make themselves vulnerable to learning something new and to discovering different perspectives?

    What techniques and tricks do you already use to provide that support? What is one more that you'll try this week? Share in the LInkedIn chat!

  • Tuesday, September 20, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As a self-identified Lifelong Learner, I was happy to see that Lifelong Learning had the highest proficiency score for all  four of the professional categories ATD highlighted for the Capability Model Assessment benchmarks.

    ATD created a 5-page benchmark report that is a gap analysis for all TD professionals and then also broken down into categories: HR/OD, Instructional Designers, Talent Development Managers, and Trainers/Facilitators. It's an interesting place to compare and contrast your own assessment results.

    Have you given yourself time to learn about the capability model and take the assessment yourself? You can find the assessment here. Self-Awareness is the first step in Lifelong Learning, right?

  • Tuesday, September 13, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You know, oh so often we see articles or hear speakers talk about the importance of taking breaks and taking vacation time. It's important for our mental health and our energy levels, right?

    Well imagine taking a two-week vacation where you don't even check email (gasp!) only to return to find your world higgledy-piggledy, with big decisions made about your jobs--professional and volunteer--with no prior notice and an inbox full of articles about quiet quitting. #Coincidence?

    What is the Universe trying to tell me? You know, besides challenging my hubris in taking time off?

    I'm not a surgeon or POTUS.

    I get to take time off.

    And it was GOOD time, doing good stuff, with good people, and made me feel GOOD. Unlike our usual vacations, we had PLANNED this, and I told people about it ahead of time. I'd prepared my work load and projects.

    But coming back to so much completely unanticipated surprise (redundant--perhaps, but that's how surprising it was) was effective at negating some of the lingering good feeling and rather set me back to the stressed out, tired state of pre-vacation.

    And that was what I returned to, no matter how much wishful thinking or hysterical outbursting or polite business emails of feedback or stewing or asking "but why?" I did.

    So, where's the meaning?

    How do I find meaning in it? What is it teaching me?


    So, not one to look a coincidence in the mouth, I looked up quiet quitting, which is a phrase I'd never heard before last month but have heard about 9,632,745 times in the last four weeks. I thought it would be the professional version of ghosting, where one just stops showing up to work one day, but NO! Instead, it is just quietly not going above and beyond, not taking on extra projects. So, #JustDoingYourJob

    Maybe the Universe checked a different definition? What is the big deal about just doing your job? Isn't that what we're supposed to do? And then the other stuff is the icing? #ButtercreamThanks

    That above and beyond stuff, those extra projects are what keep me coming back! They are the things that give my roles meaning! They make the job fun! Who'd cut out the fun bits if they didn't have to?

    So, Universe, what is the meaning of all of this? 

    Is it all just a massive inconvenient coincidence meant to challenge my professional control of emotions and maybe manage my expectations of others?

    Reality, I've given feedback, mostly better than I would have expected, and it has been received, again, mostly better than I expected. In a couple of months, I may think of these as small roots across my path rather than the smack in the head they felt like--maybe more than a couple of months, but not too long. I also won't not continue to raise my hand to take on those extras! I love the extras!

    Maybe it was that practical exam I needed to prove I could clearly communicate frustration and set some boundaries where I need them.

    Yeah, maybe that.

    OK, Let me know if you read all of this by posting your favorite candy bar in the comments of the LinkedIn post! I owe you one! (Offer expires September 30, 2022 :D)

    And please feel welcome to share some of your similar professional adventures! #LoveCompany

  • Tuesday, August 23, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Great thanks to this week's author ATD Maine Chapter Communications Team Member Kym Dakin 

    We spend so much time and energy running away from uncertainty. Yet here we are, surrounded by it, marinated in it, and in some cases, choking on it.

    What would happen if we embraced its value instead?

    Uncertainty on Steroids

    In March of 2020, just as it became clear that some weird and deadly virus thing called Covid-19 was not going away, and was, in fact, killing increasing multiples of humans across the globe, I lost my job. I also lost my five in-person training contracts that I had spent considerable time putting together, and that I had counted on to amplify our income. Like so many others at the time, I could no longer be in denial about what was happening, and how it made me feel. I was shocked, devastated, and suddenly dog paddling in a swelling river of financial fear.

    This was uncertainty on steroids. And no one on our planet was ready for it.

    Right now, I m reading a remarkable book The Upside of Uncertainty* by Nathan and Susannah Harmon Furr. At a time when so many of us yearn to go back to our pre-Covid normal”, the authors are instead making the case for going forward into uncertainty so that we may discover its gifts.

    As we watch working culture grapple with trying to attract enough employees to stay in business, as we witness the vulnerability of what many of us assumed were rock solid political institutions, as we become aware of an entire generation of skilled and vital people moving away from the long-established 9-5 work model, many of us are thrown back on old ways of coping with uncertainty. And many of those ways are decidedly toxic.

    The Power of a Pause…

    But instead of drinking, shopping, click-baiting, or yelling too much, we could pause and reframe what is going on in front of us. We could begin by asking questions, we could challenge ourselves, those we work with and those we love to take a deep breath and consider flipping the lens on what looks like a crisis from disaster to opportunity.

    This is not easy.

    We are wired to run from uncertainty as if it s a forest on fire. Our lizard brain kicks in and everything speeds up inside and outside of ourselves. We run from our feelings and move into panicked action of any kind, just to feel like we re doing SOMETHING. We ve heard and perhaps experienced for ourselves the stories of compound disasters when we can’t allow ourselves to feel pain and fear: the unexpected death of a spouse and the surviving husband totals the car, she loses her job and accidentally sets the kitchen on fire.

    Running away invites more chaos and pain. Just like what our moms may have told us about dealing with nightmares: we need to face the monster chasing us and make it our friend.

    Why Uncertainty is Good for us:

    The unknown is everywhere in our world, and it always has been. Exploration does not happen without uncertainty as its impetus. In the Positive Intelligence model, the ability to Explore, to get curious, ask questions and dig into deeper information is one of the five Sage powers needed to subdue our lizard brain.

    I would argue that true growth, true accomplishment needs uncertainty somewhere in the process. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Anything truly valuable that anyone has accomplished, from raising a child to flying to the outer reaches of the universe has been undertaken by taking on risk - and risk is birthed in uncertainty.

    But What if I Fail?

    Fear of making mistakes can be paralyzing. Prolonged paralysis has many possible disguises: laziness, complacency, and even the appearance of contentment with the “way things are”. One of the gifts of the energetic entrepreneurial culture, however, is the bold acknowledgement that innovation is impossible without the lessons of failure. Edward D. Hess, Professor of Business Administration and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden Graduate School of Business claims in a Forbes article titled Creating An Innovation Culture: Accepting Failure is Necessary:

    “Innovation requires a mindset that rejects the fear of failure and replaces that fear of failure with the joy of exploration and experimental learning. We also found that innovation organizations understand that failures are a necessity (in as much as 90% of the time) so long as the learning comes from small risk experiments. As one innovation leader stated: we celebrate success; we console failure; and we get rid of those who are afraid to try”.

    Again, thePositive Intelligence model has wisdom to add as well. By strengthening our Sage muscles, we grow our capacity to look at any failure, challenge or even disaster as a gift and opportunity to learn, amplify our power of resilience, and find inspiration in the journey.

    Business as UN-usual…

    Are you working in an organization or a business that is having difficulty attracting employees? One of the unexpected lessons that the pandemic drove home is the palpable discovery that people need meaning and the opportunity to grow in their jobs, personally as well as professionally. This requires risk on the part of a business to look more closely at job requirements and to begin to listen and embrace what employees need and want. Could a position be a work from home hybrid? Could there be job sharing for employees caring for small children or elderly parents? How can you design a particular job so that it is not boring and repetitive? Reimagining what specific jobs could look like requires us to wade into the waters of uncertainty, but once we do, we will be on our way to hiring and retaining truly valuable employees.

    The necessity of informed, human-centered strategy is stitched throughout the ATD Talent Development Capability Model. The need to embrace a certain amount of risk is at least strongly implied if not directly addressed in these three elements:

    Lifelong learning: Sometimes called continuous learning, agile learning, or learning drive, this is marked by traits such as self-motivation, insatiable curiosity, and intelligent risk-taking.

    Talent Strategy and Management: For an organization to realize its potential, talent development should be integrated into all components of talent strategy and management.

    Organization Development and Culture: To remain relevant, organizations must continually develop capability and capacity.

    For all of us in these times, we are called to develop our “capability and capacity” to learn, to grow, to evolve our ways of thinking and the actions we take. We cannot make the changes we so desperately need in our world without embracing uncertainty.

    So - How do we do THAT?? 

    Here are 5 simple steps you can take just for yourself as a way out of paralysis, stasis, boredom or complacency, so that you can reap the benefits of uncertainty:

    Move Your Body: You’ve heard it before and it’s true. Think of your body as a different kind of brain - one that feeds you information through your senses and perceptions, one that needs to move in order to do its job. I’m experimenting with seeding different kinds of movement throughout the day as a way to transition from one activity to the next like: 10 minutes of yoga on an app like Down Dog , a quick round of 5 Tibetan Rythms, or just a quick walk around the block, the building, whatever is outside your door. My husband and I started getting conscious about daily walks and daily yoga at the start of the pandemic, and these practices continue to nourish and fortify us.

    Find a Healthier Routine: When the world loses its bearings, that doesn’t mean you have to. A morning ritual can help.There is value in being conscious of whatever your actions may be that start your day.  Does your alarm wake you up with a loud clanging sound? Maybe you prefer to start things off that way, but there are alternatives that make for a sweeter experience. Do you then scurry to the shower, throw on your clothes, grab a cookie for breakfast, charge out the door…and still expect the rest of your day to go well? Let’s consider what might happen if you got up one hour earlier and made choices about what would provide a healthier and even more joyful start to your day. Find some great ideas here.

    Be Open to a Silver Lining: The Positive Intelligence model, along with so many other coach programs, positions a “glass half full” attitude squarely in the center of mindset resilience. No matter what may happen to us on our lives journey, if we can manage to actively seek for a gift or opportunity in the event, we can almost always find one. I realized that the “gift” of the pandemic was Time. For the first time in my adult life, I had unstructured time - hours and hours of it. I decided to write a book about Head Hands & Heart listening, published by Routledge Publishers and on sale in early 2023!

    Follow a Curiosity:  Think about it. Try to remember a time when you were simultaneously very afraid and very curious. Apparently, these two emotions cannot exist in our psyches at the same time.  Allowing yourself just a little time and space to follow a curiosity can produce excitement and hopefulness where there was boredom and burnout. Next time you feel anxiety, get curious as to how this plays out in your body. Take some time to ask questions and consider alternatives. My curiosity got piqued with an invitation to join a women-only class in creating an online product - and the result was a bookmarking app for online meetings called Nugget - which sold for a nice price this past December!

    Ask for Help: If you’ve got resistance to asking for assistance…. do yourself a favor and get over it. Please recognize that your mindset has been hijacked by our culture’s toxic myth of the “self-made man”  - when truly, there is no such thing and there never was. We are all of us grappling with many flavors of uncertainty right now and much as we would love to blend them all into a delicious stew… this is not always effectively done on one’s own. Help could be as simple as an in-depth talk with a trusted friend, taking a class in a subject of importance to you, or signing up for a sample coach package. My clients have found it helpful to find out which of the 9 Saboteurs impede their progress and fuel their toxic response to uncertainty. Sign up for a free Saboteur assessment and one hour coach session with me to explore how these uncertain times can better work for you!

  • Tuesday, August 09, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dog days of summer?

    What does it mean?

    It's the question she always seemed to be asking--maybe because it's the question I am always asking so I interpret her inquisitive look with my own question? the question we all have asked forever, right?!

    For whatever reason, I was wondering what the Dog Days of Summer means this week. Probably delirium from the perpetual heat! 

    It's never been a pressing question for me--I've always associated it with baseball, something I spend very little time thinking about, sorry America's Pastime devotees!--Boys of Summer : Dog Days of Summer--> same : same.

    BUT they're not!

    (I know you knew that, but go with me)

    Since I woke a-wondering, I looked it up (we do live in magical times!) and found the reliable National Geographic explanation:

    For many, the “dog days,” evoke those summer days that are so devastatingly hot that even dogs would lie around on the asphalt, panting. But originally, the phrase had nothing to do with dogs, or even with the lazy days of summer. Instead, the dog days refer to Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, which means “big dog” in Latin and is said to represent one of Orion’s hunting dogs.

    To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the time Sirius appears to rise alongside the sun, in late July in the Northern Hemisphere. They believed the heat from the two stars combined is what made these days the hottest of the year, a period that could bring fever or even catastrophe

    Humans are awesome! We love a good story, and if the world doesn't give one to us, we'll make one up for ourselves! 

    What is the meaning? What is our interpretation? Why does it matter? How can you ask?!! How can it NOT matter?

    (Yes, it is noisy in here! Isn't it also in there?-->"here" = my head; "there" = your head)

    What are you thinking about? What are you interpreting? What are you giving meaning to for yourself? for others?

  • Tuesday, August 02, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I've been listening to Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers on Audible--and specifically chose to listen rather than read a hardcopy because of his innovations with the audio book format--and Whoosh! Communication is such A Thing!

    That reminded me of Loretta Ross' TED Talk from just last year. She was at TEDMonterey with the topic "Don't call people out--call them in."

    What is more meaningful than taking an opportunity for growth--for all involved--than to try to understand and to be understood? 

    Here, watch Loretta J. Ross, a professor at Smith College, who studies human rights and white supremacy, as she talks for 14 minutes about Calling In.

    Happy August!

  • Tuesday, July 26, 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today's author is Communications team member Kym Dakin! 

    What’s your morning routine?

    Have you thought about it? Do you know why you take the same actions consistently to greet the day? Are you aware of how you feel when, for any reason, you can’t complete them?

    My summer morning routine involves the following: start the kettle boiling, wipe off the chairs on the deck, get the cushions for said chairs from the garage. Set the tea bags brewing for 5 minutes, do the 5 Tibetan Rhythms, remove tea bags, bring books, iPad and tea out to the deck, connect with my goals for the day through my Best Self journal.

    When I have an early morning work commitment, which means I can’t follow this protocol, the day doesn’t go as well. It just doesn’t. So I’ve started getting up WAY early on those days, just so I can do my morning ritual.

    Rituals and Meaning

    I’ll define the word “rituals” here as the actions we do over and over to reinforce meaning. Many of our rituals: birthdays, holiday celebrations, anniversaries, were easily taken for granted, and/or begrudgingly tolerated in our achievement-driven culture.

    Then Came the Pandemic

    Suddenly those actions that connect us as a species were ripped away. And a profound loneliness, a jagged disconnection, took their place. We were taught a painful lesson about the value of ritual.

    Working Rituals

    In the workplace, we have rituals too: inductions, promotions and retirements are only a few of the more familiar. (Although, in trying to find a graphic for this post – a search under “workplace rituals” offered all these photos of guys shaving…really. ) And again, we may find ourselves impatient with having to make time for these rather arcane protocols, but they do connect us, one to the other.

    This makes me curious… what would it be like to work in an organization without meaningful rituals?

    What would be missing? Plenty, as it turns out.


    I’m on the board of a local branch of an international non- profit. We get together to create consistent, organized public events. There is a structure and a sequence to the actions needed in producing these events, so the ritual in how things get done is very clear. It’s like baking, right?

    The ingredients and the process is predictable and reinforced over time. You can vary the recipe, improve it even, but if you vary it too much….. it’s a different animal altogether.

    In this group however, I am keenly aware of the absence of interpersonal rituals that make people feel part of the effort. It’s rather ad hoc; people do things that they are used to doing and everyone rallies when problems come up, and then…. it all comes together. So the product gets produced, but there are no rituals for anything having to do with group cohesion. There are, for instance, no established protocols for welcoming people into the group and/or assisting them in finding ways to be helpful. Even members with prestigious titles or who represent valued partnerships do not necessarily get introduced or welcomed. No one is acknowledged for doing good work or making a special effort in specific areas, and the “post mortem” after each event is largely focused on what went wrong and what needs fixing for next time.

    If this Organization were its own Planet:

    Stay with me here – the landscape would be rather bleak, murky, the available resources not immediately obvious.

    The “Natives” would not express much curiosity or interest in someone from outside their known world, and it would be up to the visitor to actively observe any clues; language, behaviors, appearance etc. for how one becomes part of this group. Kind of what Seth Godin might describe as Planet “Inertia”….

    If this organization were a for-profit entity, how would this absence of ritual effect the working culture? How would it impact morale, retention…. the bottom line?

    Reinforcing the ATD elements:

    Research done by Terrance Deal and Allan Kennedy regarding the impact of ritualistic culture on the profitability of nearly 80 companies determined that the highest performers had in common one clear  factor: all of them applied intentional rituals to reinforce a desired company culture.

    Four Benefits:

    Paolo Guenzi, author of “Leading Teams – Tools and Techniques for Successful Team Leadership from the Sports World” and Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., author of: Nine Things Successful People Do Differently cite four general benefits of workplace ritual.

    Stimulates Emotions:

    Reduces Anxiety: Heading into a nerve-wracking session with a client, making a pitch, asking for a raise, you can help yourself by doing one of Amy Cuddy’s Power Stances, and your team can get galvanized to clinch that deal by creating a ritual like a “group shake” everyone shakes themselves all over while shouting “Shit!” at the top of their lungs. The resulting laughter stimulates breathing and better breathing is good for the brain.

    Helps us Focus:

    Mindfulness practices are especially prevalent in Asian cultures, as well as multiple religious traditions around the world, because they prove highly effective in boosting individual productivity and decreasing interpersonal stress.

    Creates Shared Identity:

    Inter-company sports competitions are particularly effective in getting people to bond quickly as a team. An extreme example? Denmark’s Grundfos Olympics, engaging 1,000 employees in 55 countries.

    Many of the foreign participants are welcomed into employee’s homes, further cementing employee relationships across the globe.

    Reinforces Desired Behaviors:

    Bosch Automotive wanted to spur more innovation and risk taking in their Key Account Managers. But in a largely hierarchical culture, many of the KAMs were notably reticent to speak up much in meetings. In order to engage their input, Bosch put together a color card ritual: saying nothing in a meeting gains a KAM a yellow card, if the same thing happens the next time, s/he is issued a red card and not invited to the next meeting. The message was strongly reinforced: “Don’t come to the meeting unless you are willing to speak up.” Over time, this ritual stimulated input from some of the most reticent KAMs, who often had the most valuable ideas to contribute.

    ATD Chimes in…

    As a learning entity focused on employee engagement, development, and education, the Association for Talent Development (ATD) refers, at least tangentially, to the importance of these elements in The ATD Capability Model in the following aptitudes, found under “Impacting Organizational Capability/Organization Development and Culture”:

    • Knowledge of the principles, policies, and practices associated with programs and initiatives designed for organizational well- being
    • Knowledge of strategies and techniques for building, supporting, and/or promoting an organizational culture that values talent and learning as drivers of competitive advantage.
    • Skill in designing and implementing employee engagement strategy.

    Another Take on Ritual:

    McKinsey & Company’s Marvin Bower commented on the ritualistic “style” of working companies that he described as “the way we do things around here”. I knew instinctively what he was talking about, though my reference was from another world entirely. In theatre performance, “the way we do things around here” is known as “Style”. The world of the story gets reinforced through specific behaviors, clothing, pace, and communication patterns. A theatre company worth the price of admission would spend considerable time determining and reinforcing the stylistic rituals that define the culture of a particular play. Just as my non-profit board culture would benefit from defining the elements of our own group “style” and, even more importantly, how to graciously communicate it to prospective members.

    I hope this post sparks some curiosity about “the way you do things” wherever you find yourself in these long hot summer days.

    Kym Dakin is a Public Speaking Coach, a certified Mindset Coach, ATD member and published author.

    Her book: “Using Head, Heart & Hands Listening in Coach Practice will be published by Routledge Publishing in October 2022. See more at


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