Creating a ‘Buzz’ at Work!

Abundance Organizational culture Transformation


Key Point: The number one priority in your role today is to be a personal leader of change. Everybody has to have a growth mindset. If you don’t have that view in the organization I’m involved with, your future is definitely less clear and bright. Why? If we don’t grow we stand still, and with the speed and impact of what’s happening around us, this will likely mean personal and institutional failure. 

I’m fortunate to be personally leading a system-wide cultural change initiative. We already have a great culture, and this change focus involves finding a way to shift it into overdrive. I recently reviewed an important research based article in the McKinsey Quarterly, addressing contemporary organizational change. When authors Arne Gast and Raul Lansink asked change leaders what they would do differently next time, the top responses always included: “Spending more effort on engaging people and on developing and communicating change stories.”  

I’m confident in how we’re going to engage the organization in powerful, pivotal storytelling! And inspired by this research, what I’m really excited to explore more of, is what McKinsey describes as comprehensive “hive based” company wide engagement. This means getting employees talking to one another about infusing and driving the cultural shift in every direction. It also includes cooperating across intercompany boundaries, AND maintaining momentum through applying cultural drivers that reinforce the new behavior and prevent slipping back into old habits. 

McKinsey describes digital “hives” in the article noted above as “electronic hubs bristling with collective activity and designed to solve a particular problem or set of problems, to drive new habits, and to encourage organizational change. Digital tools to facilitate networking and collaboration propel these ‘horizontal’ cascades, which at their best can weave new patterns of engagement across geographic and other organizational boundaries. In this way, they make it possible to have new conversations around problem solving, unlock previously tacit knowledge, and speed up execution.” 

If we embrace and experiment with digital hives, I believe large numbers of previously “disenfranchised” employees will become personally involved in the transformation and customer impacting aspect of the cultural shift. Creating these hives requires confidence that people at EVERY LEVEL will do the right thing when given a chance, and the willingness of top managers to let go. Leaders certainly have to fearlessly own any cultural change process, WHILE simultaneously encouraging unrestrained participation at every level of the organization; however unpredictable the consequences. Like I’ve noted in previous blogs, sometimes you have to make the path by just courageously walking arm in arm. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Declare yourself a change agent! Start with yourself first and be accountable to help your “hive” change and advance.
  1. Learn how to use stories to declare where you want to go and how all people need to act to get there more rapidly and effectively. 
  1. Learn how to spark and encourage digital hives. Recognize that old fashioned, vertical, analogue, top down, change methods are likely too slow and usually run out of steam before aspirational milestones are reached. Don’t be passive… Don’t wait for some top down brilliance… Own your change… Collaborate with team members in every direction, and be part of an ever moving and progressing hive!

Digital hives in the Triangle,


P.S. Ok… I’m aware the last time I used the bee analogy I got stung… But no guts, no buzz! 

One Millennial View: Sometimes I think our roadblocks are in our own heads, insecurity based, or just reflect laziness to a degree where too many peers figure it’s “too risky to try, so why bother?” In my own organization, I’ve heard, “oh, well corporate would never go for that idea.” Frankly, I’m a little sick of it. That assumption is just a hunch with no merit. In “hive” talk, that attitude is a “buzzkill.” It halts a try. And by “try,” I mean putting in the extra effort to research, strategize, pitch and perform a concrete idea you believe in. How could a higher up have anything but respect for an employee (at any level) if they show them data that could support what the company is aiming for? Maybe I’m naïve to believe that these “big,” “scary” bosses don’t have their trigger finger on the guillotine as much as people believe they do… I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s not the movies: “A thought?!? From YOU? You’re fired! Get out!” is more or less fiction. I think if the cross-company idea is to earn, succeed and build, then an unexpressed idea from any level is a wasted opportunity. I’m not talking about pounding on Bill Gates’ office with a cool thought you wrote down on a napkin, but be appropriate, practical and take steps accordingly. Hives don’t have stingers to sting themselves.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis