Here people are saying kind things about each others

· January 10, 2017

I’m very proud of my church (or corps as we say in the Salvation Army - the Vasa Corps of Stockholm. The moment I came there I felt right at home and I’m more than happy to, voluntary, spend a lot of my leisure time in the different groups of the church.

About a month ago I heard someone, that is new to our congregation, say something that summarised a lot of the spirit in the church:

Here people are saying kind things about each other

That did not only make me feel very proud and happy, but also signals a culture that holds true for many of the great place I’ve been working in or associated with.

I hope that you have had the opportunity to work in such an environment - it’s amazing. People are saying things like (these are all real quotes from work places)

Our IT support is amazing - it’s a pure joy to go there

Go over to the X team, they have such great programmers there. And they are very helpful too

Have you heard? We signed “Anna”I can’t believe that she is here - what an amazing person. I’ve heard so many people talk about her.

The guys in team X had such a hard time this spring, but they way they recovered was amazing. I’m so impressed with their work

There’s a sense of pride and fulfilment in the tasks that these teams do. All these places I’ve been, I’ve seen people that are given room to become something better together than the sum of the individuals. It’s been environment heavy on the WHY (our reason to exist and goals for the company) and light on the HOW (procedures and policies)

The opposite

Sadly I have also worked in other places too - that signals a culture of something else. And I’m ashamed to say that I often have contributed to that culture from time to time.

This is a culture of whining and complaining (guilty). Where the organisational boarders are drawn so deep that you can almost physically feel them - sometimes they even are physically with departments, that are supposed to serve each other, are in different houses or cities.

Here is where the departments have different goals (see my man Deming on this), KPIs and even reasons to exists. The accountability often sits between many groups and there’s a lot of finger pointing or sentences like “we’re waiting for X to be done” or “we can’t start our work until Y has done theirs”.

There are 2 very common questions that is used in surveys in organisations that highlights this:

1) I think that my department gives great service to others

2) I think that the service my department receives from is great

It’s a long running joke, but sadly quite true, that #1 always gets high score (“agrees with very much”) and #2 always get a low score (“strongly disagree”).

What you end up with is whinging, complaining and work against each other, in best case writing great SLA and contracts. The opposite of the Agile Manifesto principle #3 (“collaboration over contract negotiation”) The opposite of what a nice place is all about.


I wrote in the introduction that the behaviours I described signals a culture because you can’t push this way of talking and behaving onto people. It just happens when you have awesome people, doing things that they feel is important and give them the opportunity to be that awesome.

Those are the kind of places where i want to work. I’ve been there - it’s amazing!

That’s the kind of culture I want to be part of fostering and creating. It’s not hard, but it starts with me. It starts with kindness and caring for people.

Twitter, Facebook