Smith Weaver Smith has been in business since 1996, and we have served hundreds of clients in business, higher education, k-12 schools, membership associations, and large nonprofit organizations. But in recent years we have been busy promoting other businesses, so it’s time to reframe and refocus our face to the market.
I’m going to start out this blog by giving you some ideas of who we are, what we care about, and what are the things we help others to accomplish. Because we’ve worked with so many clients in different in different spheres of influence and quite different missions, we’ve gained some interesting perspectives on how people come together to solve problems or take advantage of opportunities.
All of our work is about getting things done–as fast as possible, as well as possible, as efficiently as possible. Usually the many stakeholders have conflicting ideas about how to do things, what to do, and even what is the purpose of the project. They have differing notions of what is fair, just, or pragmatic; they use different languages to express themselves; they have differing senses of how to disagree productively and how to reach consensus.
All of these traits come down to culture. When I am working with one company that wants to grow their business, it’s their company culture that either supports the effort or gets in the way. When the company is stagnant or has reached a plateau, that’s a sign that they have a culture that worked in the past but won’t work for the future.
When two or more organizations come together in a joint venture, their differing cultures impede progress. We often work on partnership projects with education and business, or nonprofits and for-profit organizations. Their fundamental beliefs, values, and ways of doing things could not be more diverse. Yes, in order to accomplish a bigger goal, they have to create a new culture within which they can operate together.
Edgar Schein, retired from the Sloan School at MIT, defined culture as “the shared history of what works.” When you think of it that way, you can understand why people resist or undermine culture change and prefer their own culture to that of others. After all, if it’s working, why would we want to change it?
The problem, of course, is that lots of other things are changing, and often what used to work, works no more.
That’s why we are strong believers in collaborative processes that help people define and create new functional cultures to accomplish their biggest goals.
That’s what we’re all about, and that’s what this blog is all about.
Have you ever worked in a culture that was getting in the way of progress? We’d love your comments.